Environment & Climate

Scientists Just Published a Study Calling Out the Head of the EPA by Name

by Samantha Page – No, warming is not ‘leveling off.’ A new study appeared in the journal Nature on Wednesday, directly refuting the idea that satellite data has shown global warming has leveled off, a claim made by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt earlier this year. “Satellite temperature measurements do not support the recent claim of a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades,” the study says. The researchers were upfront about why they ran the study, calling out Pruitt by name. “Mr. Pruitt claimed that ‘over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming.’ We test this claim here,” the researchers write. The study was authored by Benjamin Santer, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and three Livermore colleagues, as well as three scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Washington in Seattle, and...

Read More...


Seven Things You Need to Know About the G7 Summit (VIDEOS)

What does the G7 stand for, who are the key players and what are the potential bust-ups this year? The leaders of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – countries collectively known as the Group of Seven (G7) – are meeting on Friday for a two-day summit in the resort town of Taormina, Italy. The bloc meets annually to discuss a wide range of issues, including global economy, security and energy – and this year will be no exception. But with four out of seven leaders sitting at the G7 table for the first time, including US President Donald Trump, experts will be looking for signs about potential policy shifts amid growing global challenges. Syrian conflict tops G7 summit agenda Trump, in particular, is likely to face peer pressure over his protectionist and climate-sceptic stance, which has put him at odds with some of the...

Read More...


Exxon Loses in Court and Must Turn Over Documents to NY AG Schneiderman

by DWG – Exxon must now submit to a document proctological exam conducted by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. From Reuters: May 23:  A New York state appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Exxon Mobil Corp should be compelled to turn over records in an investigation into how much the company knew about global warming as it continued to publicly downplay the effects it was expected to have on the fossil fuel industry. Exxon has been battling subpoenas from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is probing the company for fraud in its public statements about climate change. The appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision, rejecting Exxon’s argument that the court did not properly consider which state’s laws on turning over evidence in an investigation should apply in the case. The investigation is taking place in New York, but Exxon’s headquarters are in Texas. This is a big deal....

Read More...


Top 10 Brain Damage Causing Habits

by Amelia Kinney – Brain damage is often a result of unnecessary stress and exposure to air pollutants. You might reconsider the consequence of these seemingly innocuous habits when you learn how they can inhibit neurological function and cause the brain to age. 1. Understimulation Remember, for the most part, your comfort zone isn’t doing you any favours. Break away from your normal routine and explore, write, create and travel. Try new things that stimulate the senses. Learning new skills keeps your brain young, and should be a priority at every age. 2. Skipping Breakfast Not eating breakfast can lead to lower blood sugar levels, which ultimately deprives your brain of nutrients. If your brain isn’t given sufficient nutrition, it begins to degenerate. Eat a healthy, filling breakfast high in protein. 3. Smoking Smoking cigarettes can cause obstruction of blood flow to the brain, and also can lead to escape of...

Read More...


Offshore Wind is Now Competitive With Nuclear Power, and Gas is ‘in sight’

by Joe Romm – As prices plummet, offshore wind wins German power auction — with no subsidy. The price of offshore wind power has been dropping so quickly that it threatens to upend the electricity industry around the world. Last month, Denmark’s Dong Energy, the world’s largest provider of offshore wind farms, won a German power auction without needing any subsidies. Dong is a rebranding from Danish Oil and Natural Gas, as the company sells off its fossil fuel businesses to become a clean energy leader. Average global prices of off-shore wind dropped a game-changing 28 percent last year. Ray Thompson, chief of business development at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy said last month that “it’s staggering to think that in not much more than five years, we could have turned a technology seen as prohibitively expensive into the lowest cost, utility-scale technology available.” By 2016, offshore wind prices had nearly dropped to the level...

Read More...


Rollback of Environmental Rules Will Fail to Bring Back Coal, Report Says

by Mark Hand – ‘Responsible policymakers should be honest about what’s going on in the coal sector.’ “Can Coal Make a Comeback?” asks a new report by Columbia University researchers. Spoiler alert: In its first few pages, the report states that President Donald Trump will almost certainly fail to bring jobs back to coal country or dramatically boost coal production. Rolling back environmental regulations, as the Trump administration frantically sought to do during its first 100 days, will not “materially improve” economic conditions in the nation’s coal communities, according to the report. During Trump’s presidential campaign, he repeatedly vowed to end a “war on coal” allegedly waged by the Obama administration. But as long as natural gas prices remain at or near current levels, U.S. coal consumption will continue to decline despite the Trump administration’s plans to roll back Obama-era regulations, the report says. “Responsible policymakers should be honest about what’s going...

Read More...


Experts Resign From EPA Subcommittee to Protest Trump’s War on Science

by Deirdre Fulton – “These scientists are putting their feet down in the face of Trump and Pruitt’s total disdain for science, reality, and the very foundations of our government.” Protesting the Trump administration’s “continued obfuscation of scientific evidence and the research enterprise,” two scientists resigned Friday from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advisory subcommittee focused on public health and pollution. Specifically, Drs. Carlos Martín and Peter Meyer cited the EPA’s recent decision to not renew the terms of Drs. Courtney Flint and Robert Richardson on the agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors. News outlets reported this week that the EPA was considering replacing up to a dozen such scientists with representatives of the very industries the agency is tasked with policing. Board members Flint and Richard were co-chairs of the Sustainable and Healthy Communities Subcommittee, on which Martin and Meyer both served. The subcommittee “looked at how to improve environmental health...

Read More...


Glacier-Less National Park? Climate Change Melting Iconic Formations

by Deirdre Fulton – Some glaciers have shrunk by as much as 85 percent. Climate change is melting the glaciers in iconic Glacier National Park, according to scientists, who warn that the majestic natural formations could disappear entirely within our lifetime. The park, which celebrated its 107th anniversary on Thursday, boasted 150 glaciers in the late 19th century; today, only 26 meet the 25-acre threshold to be considered glaciers. That’s according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data released Wednesday, which finds that as global temperatures have increased, the park’s major “named” glaciers have shrunk by an average of 39 percent—and some by as much as 85 percent—since 1966. While the loss in Montana “is more severe than some other places in the U.S., it is in line with trends that have been happening on a global scale,” said Portland State University geologist Andrew G. Fountain, who partnered with the USGS on the multi-year study. In...

Read More...


‘Huge Victory’ in Seneca Lake: After Years of Protest, Gas Storage Project Abandoned

by Nika Knight – “Don’t think people can’t make a difference. People can prevail.” After a years-long popular resistance against a proposed fracked gas storage project in Seneca Lake, N.Y., the people have emerged victorious. The Arlington Storage Company announced Wednesday that it was finally abandoning a contentious plan to store fracked gas in unlined salt caverns along the pristine lake in New York’s Finger Lakes region. “This has been a long drawn out battle to protect a world class region from a Texas-based oil and gas corporation. They only see dollar signs, where we see tranquil beauty, clean air, and fresh water,” said Joseph Campbell, president of the Gas Free Seneca coalition of businesses, in a statement. Ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber, who has been involved with the protests led by We Are Seneca Lake since they began in 2014, reported for EcoWatch: The news broke Wednesday in the most...

Read More...


World Worries as Trump Set to Dump Paris Climate Deal

by Common Dreams staff – Trump has called climate change a “hoax.” Tweeted: “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop.” The world is worried as Decision Day nears. At a April 29th rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Trump said he would make a “big decision” on Paris within the next two weeks and vowed to end “a broken system of global plunder at American expense.” Now the Trump administration has a meeting scheduled this Tuesday to decide whether to drop out of the Paris Agreement. During last year’s campaign Trump called the Paris climate agreement, COP21, a “bad deal” for the U.S. and promised more oil drilling and to revive the fading coal industry. He’s also called climate change a “hoax.” Trump’s senior strategist Steve Bannon, White House counsel Don McGahn, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are leading the climate deniers urging Trump to officially...

Read More...


Pack Your Bags: Human Have Just 100 Years to Get Off Earth to Survive, Says Stephen Hawking

by Andrea Germanos – Upcoming series set to show that “Prof. Hawking’s ambition isn’t as fantastical as it sounds”. If the human species is to avert extinction, it’s got just 100 years to leave Earth and colonize a new planet. That’s according to noted theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who makes the prediction in the upcoming BBC series “Expedition New Earth,” set to air later this year as part of its reignited Tomorrow’s World programming. “Professor Stephen Hawking thinks the human species will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive. With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics, and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious,” a BBC press statement announcing the documentary says. The show will explore “if and how humans can reach for the stars and move to different planets” and will take viewers on a global journey that “shows that Prof. Hawking’s...

Read More...


NY Times Publishes a Second Error-riddled Piece by its New Climate ‘Disinformer’

by Joe Romm – Why does the paper keep running Bret Stephens’ columns without fact check? CREDIT: Department of Energy On Monday, the New York Times published a second error-riddled collection of misinformation by its new columnist, “climate change bullshitter Bret Stephens,” as Vox aptly describes him. In his new piece, “Answering your climate questions,” Stephens makes several false and misleading claims, relying mostly on right-wing talking points that are years out of date. Stephens has become a “disinformer,” as the Washington Post puts it, because he uses “logically flawed comparisons to sow doubt about climate change projections.” He also ignores or dismisses the global clean energy revolution. After hiring Stephens, the Times promised to apply the “same standards for fairness and accuracy” to opinion pieces that the paper did to news stories. Yet they clearly didn’t fact-check this new piece — even though the first piece was so deeply flawed that Times reporters and...

Read More...


Company Behind Dakota Access Pipeline Spills Over 2 Million Gallons of Drilling Fluids into Ohio Wetlands

by Natasha Geiling – Energy Transfer Partners has twice spilled drilling fluids into “pristine” Ohio wetlands this month. Energy Transfer Partners — the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline — has spilled drilling fluid into two pristine Ohio wetlands this month, according to information reported to the Ohio EPA. The spills were not related to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and instead occurred while Energy Transfer Partners was constructing a different pipeline that would stretch 710 miles from Appalachia to Ontario, Canada, according to the Washington Post. Drilling fluid is used to cool equipment and is not toxic, but it is often mixed with substances like clay, making it mud-like in texture and viscosity. Environmental groups worry that because of that texture, a large enough spill could essentially smother wildlife and ecosystems in the wetlands. According to Energy Transfer Partners’ reporting to the Ohio EPA, the company spilled as much as 2 million gallons of drilling...

Read More...


Climate Denial Textbooks, Coming Soon to a Public School Near You

by Dartagnan –  It’s bad enough that a hateful propaganda site like Breitbart News has its sordid tentacles entwined with the critical mental functions of the current White House occupant. It’s even worse when one of its featured columnists mates with a right-wing think tank to spawn poison aimed at our children in the public schools. The Heartland Institute is a tool of major fossil fuel producers and the Koch Brothers network of polluters salivating to maximize their profits with a clueless, malleable dupe like Donald Trump in the White House and a compliant Congress eager to serve them. Heartland propaganda is at the core of the climate denial industry which still seeks to convince the American public that there is some type of “debate” among scientists about the science of climate change. The latest well-funded salvo from this noxious organization comes in the form of a thin, glossy book, titled...

Read More...


Tesla’s Solar Roof To Cost Less Than A Regular Roof – Even Before Energy Production, Says Elon Musk

by Fred Lambert/Electrek – Solar energy is already competitive in several markets and while the price of the solar roof could be more expensive than a regular roof as an upfront investment, those electricity savings would quickly add up and made the product competitive with normal roofing solutions. Elon Musk made quite the announcement in November 2016. During the special shareholders meeting to approve the merger with SolarCity, which they approved by 85%, he said that he was coming back from a meeting with the SolarCity engineering team about the solar roof and that he now feels confident that they could deliver the product at a lower cost than a regular roof – even before energy production. That’s different from what the company was claiming before the meeting was held. And it’s an incredibly bold claim since if it turns out to be true, no homeowner would have any reason not...

Read More...


The “100 by ’50 Act” Cannot Become Our “North Star”

by Ezra Silk – On Tuesday, Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders are scheduled to introduce the “100 by ’50 Act,” billed as “the most ambitious piece of climate legislation Congress has ever seen.” 350.org’s Jason Kowalski has expressed hopes that the symbolic bill, which aims to build a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050, will become the “North Star” of the climate movement. Yet the April 17th draft of the bill is incremental, non-comprehensive, and fails to meet the challenge of this historic moment. It’s time to go back to the drawing board. We need a true climate emergency bill grounded in climate truth. #1: This bill will not solve the climate crisis. In a blog post for 350.org, Senator Jeff Merkley acknowledged as much: “This legislation isn’t designed to solve the crisis on its own, but to put forward a clear way to end the primary driver of global...

Read More...


Great Barrier Reef Reaches “Terminal Stage” as CO2 Levels Rise at Record Rate

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report – I’ve been writing these climate dispatches every month for over three years, and each successive dispatch becomes more difficult to write than the last, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) become increasingly severe. Species, ecosystems, glaciers, sea ice and humans themselves continue to absorb and pay for this human experiment of industrialization gone horribly awry. Many are paying with their very existence. Two months ago, I spent some time researching and writing in Australia. I visited the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), where I reveled in the majesty of intact towering coral structures flourishing with marine life. Yet I was also devastated during this visit — again and again, I happened upon bleached out and silently dead areas of barren coral wasteland, which not long ago teemed with living beings. Roughly 20 percent of the coral on the outer reef were...

Read More...


The Top 7 Ways the Trump Administration is Attacking Science at the EPA

by Myriam Alexander-Kearns and Alison Cassady – The core mission of the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, “is to protect human health and the environment.” As part of that mission, the agency works to ensure that “national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information.” During the first four months of 2017, President Donald Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and their allies in Congress have proven themselves hostile to the role of science in achieving the agency’s mission but all too willing to heed the requests of polluters. Here are the top seven ways in which science is already under siege at the EPA. 1. Administrator Pruitt rejected decades of science to keep a dangerous pesticide on the market Chlorpyrifos is a common agricultural pesticide that causes neurological harm in children who were exposed to it in utero. In 2016, the EPA’s scientists concluded that the...

Read More...


Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Threat of Science Denial (VIDEOS)

by BILLMOYERS.COM STAFF – Neil deGrasse Tyson says that when you have people who don’t know much about science denying it and rising to power, it’s a recipe for the complete dismantling of our democracy. Just in time for Earth Day, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson releases a short film on Facebook that he says “may be the most important words I have ever spoken.” It’s already been viewed nearly 20 million times. DeGrasse Tyson highlights some of the points he made in his three-part series of conversations with Bill Moyers in 2014, which explored a variety of topics, including the beauty of the scientific method in the search for truth, the value of innovations in science and technology in the ascendency of America, and how political debates about established science are delaying critical conversations about the best ways to combat climate change. “You have not fully expressed your power as a...

Read More...


100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 3

by STEVEN HARPER – Across the federal government, Trump is determining the country’s fate. The first 100 days of deconstruction set the stage for 1,360 that will follow. Trump promised to be a transformational leader. It wasn’t an idle threat. He has assembled an unprecedented governmental wrecking crew. This is the third installment on Trump’s a unique combination of kleptocracy and kakistocracy that is reshaping America in ways that most of voters won’t like. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Don’t let the symbolic American missile strike on a Syrian airfield, dropping the “Mother of All Bombs” on tunnels in Afghanistan or threats directed at North Korea distract from a central fact: Trump is Putin’s President. Former ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is a player in the resulting saga. After Trump announced his choice for secretary of state, former Russian Energy Minister Vladimir Milov said that Tillerson was a “gift for...

Read More...


EPA Considers Gutting Regulations on Lead Contamination

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent out a notice on Wednesday announcing a series of upcoming public meetings in which it will consider gutting rules and regulations meant to protect the public from lead and hazardous chemicals, including training programs designed to prevent children from being exposed to lead paint. The notice went out at 2:30, just as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was meeting with residents of a neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana, that has been contaminated with lead for decades. Six weeks after beleaguered residents petitioned his agency to take emergency action to protect them from lead contamination in their drinking water, Scott Pruitt was visiting East Chicago as part of the kick-off tour for his term as administrator of the EPA. “That timing is discouraging, obviously,” said Debbie Chizewer, an attorney at an environmental law clinic at Northwestern University who...

Read More...


Kentucky Coal Company Announces Plans to Build the State’s Largest Solar Farm

by Natasha Geiling – The company says the farm will give jobs to displaced coal miners. A Kentucky coal company announced this past Tuesday that it is planning to build a solar farm on a reclaimed mountaintop removal coal mine and that the project would bring both jobs and energy to the area. Berkeley Energy Group, the coal company behind the project, billed it as the first large-scale solar farm in the Appalachian region, which has been hit hard by the decades-long decline in the U.S. coal industry. The company, in partnership with EDF Renewable Energy, is currently conducting feasibility studies for the project on two reclaimed strip mines, both located in the eastern part of the state. Berkeley Energy Group estimates that the solar farm could produce as much as 50 or 100 megawatts of electricity, which would be five to ten times the size of Kentucky’s largest solar farm. Berkeley...

Read More...


This Earth Day, Defeating Trump is Job One

by Libero Della Piana – This Earth Day, we face a climate threat greater than ever before. And he lives in the White House. On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump consistently mocked climate science and promised to gut policies protecting our communities, natural resources and the environment. He called climate change “a hoax” invented by the Chinese government. In and out of office, Trump has been consistently at odds with scientific evidence and consensus on climate change. His is also at odds with public opinion, which increasingly acknowledges and understands the threat of global climate crisis. Despite its failures to advance a legislative agenda, the Trump Administration has successfully used executive orders, rule changes in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies, and the use of the Congressional Review Act to undo crucial protections of air, water and the environment. Trump’s greatest achievement thus far may very well be turning...

Read More...


‘Payout Time’: Exxon Seeks Waiver From U.S. Sanctions to Drill in Russia

by Nika Knight – “Exxon applied for waiver from sanctions on Russia. Among departments who must approve: State Department, run by company’s ex-CEO” Exxon is applying for a waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to bypass U.S. sanctions against Russia and resume offshore drilling in the Black Sea with the Russian oil company Rosneft, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Among those charged with deciding to grant the permit is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon who previously oversaw the company’s Russia operations. Rebecca Ballhaus  ✔@rebeccaballhaus Exxon applied for waiver from sanctions on Russia. Among depts who must approve: State Dept, run by company’s ex-CEO https://www.wsj.com/articles/exxon-seeks-u-s-waiver-to-work-in-russia-despite-sanctions-1492620677 … 1:09 PM – 19 Apr 2017   “Ka-ching! Payout time,” tweeted Rachel Maddow in response to the Wall Street Journal report. Rachel Maddow MSNBC ✔@maddow Ka-ching! Payout time.https://goo.gl/Zv9pT1  1:52 PM – 19 Apr 2017 Exxon Seeks U.S. Waiver to Resume Russia Oil...

Read More...


Wilder Fires and Rising Waters, Climate Impacts Coming to America’s Door

by Lauren McCauley – Pair of new studies show how American climate refugees will ‘reshape’ population landscape of the nation. Americans in many cases have been slow to acknowledge the real threats posed by global warming. But two new studies out Monday found that people living throughout the United States could soon see their communities forever altered by higher seas and raging forest fires. While the United States has lagged in taking dramatic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or transform its power grid to accommodate renewable energy sources, other nations have taken the lead. Further, studies have historically shown (pdf) that Americans are generally reluctant to perceive climate change as anything more than a moderate risk, seeing it as something that impacts people in more vulnerable, developing nations. The idea of a person becoming a climate change refugee seems similarly foreign. However, Mathew Hauer, a demographer at the University of...

Read More...


Energy Secretary Targets Wind, Solar After Overseeing Renewables Explosion as Texas Governor

by Mark Hand – Rick Perry wants answers to baseload generation retirements. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn’t mention renewable energy by name. But his request for the Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate how federal subsidies boost one form of energy at the expense of baseload generation was clearly meant as a swipe at wind and solar energy resources. In an April 14 memo to his chief of staff, a copy of which DOE provided to ThinkProgress, Perry directed the agency to look at the extent to which “continued regulatory burdens, as well as mandates and tax and subsidy policies, are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.” Perry previously served as governor of Texas where he led an expansion of renewable energy sources across the state. Texas leads the nation in wind-powered generation capacity with more than 18,500 megawatts, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration....

Read More...


7,000 Massive Methane Gas Bubbles Under the Russian Permafrost Could Explode

by Joe Romm – Scorching March brings Arctic temperatures up to 20°F warmer than normal. Russian scientists have recently discovered some 7,000 underground methane bubbles in Siberia that could explode anytime. ‘Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost,” explained a Russian Academy of Science spokesperson, “which is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during last several decades.” Video of one of Russia’s methane bubbles, which have been called ‘trembling tundra’ This discovery is especially worrisome for three reasons. First, methane traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. Thawing permafrost creates both CO2 and methane (CH4), but most models of thawing permafrost assume only CO2 is created. If, as it appears, a lot of methane is being generated, then we’ll see even more extra warming than scientists have projected. Second, a recent study found global...

Read More...


New York Times Defends Hiring Extreme Climate Denier: ‘Millions Agree with Him’

by Joe Romm – The Times replaces search for truth with search for popular ideas that are false. But would they hire a Holocaust denier? Amidst backlash and subscription cancellations for hiring extreme climate science denier, Bret Stephens, the New York Times offered a stunning defense: There are “millions of people who agree with him.” With that ‘logic’, the Times could hire as a columnist former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke — or a flat earther or someone who thinks vaccines pose a health hazard. After all, millions agree with them. Screenshot of a typical pop-up ad in the NY Times new ad campaign This defense is especially absurd since, as I detailed Friday, the Times has been running a major ad campaign claiming there is no alternative to the truth — and former Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Stephens has repeatedly dismissed as “imaginary” the climate reality reported...

Read More...


Underwater Pipeline has Been Leaking Gas into a Beluga Whale Habitat for 3 Months

by Katie Valentine – An underwater natural gas pipeline has been leaking for three months into an endangered beluga whale habitat. Alaska’s Cook Inlet has long been known for its stunning mountain views and the endangered beluga whales that inhabit the watershed. But a series of oil and gas leaks from underwater pipelines, one of which is still ongoing, has residents and environmentalists concerned both about the short-term impacts on sensitive wildlife and the long-term risks of the region’s aging pipeline infrastructure. “It’s a radical physical environment for steel infrastructure,” Bob Shavelson, advocacy director at the Cook Inlet-based Inletkeeper, told ThinkProgress. The southern Alaska inlet contains more than 1,000 miles of pipelines and 16 offshore oil and gas platforms, frequently operating in harsh conditions, including earthquakes and three feet of ice. In early February, officials with pipeline company Hilcorp Alaska reported that natural gas was leaking into Cook Inlet from an eight-inch...

Read More...


Financial Experts to Trump: Climate is a Smart Investment

by Natasha Geiling – International climate finance has obvious humanitarian benefits — but Trump could be missing out on economic benefits too. Recent floods and mudslides in Peru — driven by extreme precipitation linked to exceptionally warm waters off the coast — have devastated the country, claiming more than 100 lives and damaging 130,000 structures. The destruction is so extreme that the Peruvian government estimated immediate reconstruction will cost the country as much as $3 billion over the long term, and as much as $9 billion over the next five years. In Colombia, similar precipitation triggered a flood that left parts of the southern city of Mocoa completely destroyed, and killed at least 293 people. After the flood, the president of Colombia issued a dire warning: the country needs to prepare for more disasters like this as climate change continues to fuel extreme precipitation. “We are confronting a natural disaster caused by climate change,” he said, according to...

Read More...


Global Solar Demand Soars 30-fold in Just 9 Years

by Joe Romm – Solar now employs more U.S. workers than Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon combined. The rapid rise of solar power is one of the most astonishing transformations in the history of global energy use. A decade ago, solar photovoltaics (PV) was just a tiny sapling, easily dismissed by fossil fuel advocates. Today, after a remarkable 30-fold increase in PV sales in just nine years, it has become a giant redwood forest. And the giant is still growing, as GTM Research reported in its latest Global Solar Demand Monitor for the first quarter of 2017. CREDIT: GTM Research Last year alone saw a stunning jump in annual global PV demand of more than 50 percent. And GTM projects that demand for solar power will continue to rise. This transformation has been driven by steadily plummeting costs for solar (and other enabling technologies). Indeed, India’s Minister for Power, Coal, New & Renewable...

Read More...


Chinese Internet Giant Buys 5 Percent of Tesla for $1.8 Billion

by Joe Romm – Tesla’s market value surge signals a booming future for electric vehicles — globally. On Monday, Tesla accelerated past Ford Motors to become the number two U.S. automaker by market capitalization — the total stock market value of the company. That puts Tesla’s market cap ($48 billion) within sight of General Motors’ ($51 billion). Via MarketWatch The stock surge reflects the market’s view that the future for cars is electric. After all, Ford sold nearly 240,000 cars in March, whereas Tesla reported on Sunday that its total deliveries in the whole first quarter were only 25,000 cars. Still, Tesla’s 2017 Q1 sales were up nearly 70 percent over 2016 Q1 sales. And the market likes to bet on growth. Rapid and ongoing drops in battery cost mean we are just at the start of the EV revolution. As Navigant Research reported in January, “more than 37 million plug-in electric vehicles are expected...

Read More...


Green Is Good

by Ryan Richards – How Smart Policy Can Sustain Growth of Private Investment in Conservation. Introduction and summary Bedrock environmental legislation, such as the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, has helped inspire innovative solutions to complex environmental issues. Today, there is a fast-growing industry that encourages private investors and businesses to work independently or in partnership with public agencies and apply market-based approaches to conservation.1 Recent data suggest that environmental markets in the United States facilitate at least $2.8 billion in transactions annually.2 From 2014 through 2015, more than $1.15 billion in private capital was injected into markets for habitat conservation and water management, reflecting a new trend in business to find investment opportunities that also deliver social and environmental benefits.3 This new approach provides several advantages, including: More options for conserving or restoring natural resources A larger pool of resources for addressing environmental problems Potential to mobilize...

Read More...


Key Report: Hundreds of Native Bee Species Buzzing Toward Extinction

by JULIE FIDLER – One species is already presumed to be extinct. The Center for Biological Diversity has published a first-of-its-kind comprehensive review of more than 4,000 native bee species in North America. The report indicates that more than half the species with sufficient data are declining. Nearly 1 in 4 is racing towards extinction due to increased pesticide and other factors. Of the 1,437 species with sufficient data, the nonprofit found that 749 were declining. An additional 347 (24%) of the species are imperiled and at risk of extinction. The center presumes that the species lacking sufficient data are presumed to be at risk of extinction as well. The author of the report, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement: “It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming.” All of the bee...

Read More...


Renewables Shatter Records as Coal Production Drops to 1978 Levels

by Joe Romm – California hits stunning 56.7 percent peak power from renewables, and it’s only spring. Renewable power keeps shattering records in the United States and around the world. Meanwhile, U.S. coal production has fallen to its lowest level since 1978, according to statistics from the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Yet President Donald Trump and his administration nonetheless continue to champion the dirty and dying fuels of the 19th century. Just last week Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a new push to expand coal mining on public lands, while misguidedly attacking renewables: “We can’t power the country on pixie dust and hope.” Ironically, a few days earlier, the California grid’s Independent System Operator (ISO) tweeted that it achieved a record high percentage of peak demand provided by renewables of 56.7 percent. California ISO @California_ISO #ISO hit all-time peak percentage of demand served by #renewables, 56.7% at 11:25 a.m. today #cleanenergy...

Read More...


Environmental Assault Met with Immediate Legal Challenges

by Natasha Geiling – After failing to pass the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act last week, the Trump administration looked to get its agenda back on track on Tuesday, releasing a long-awaited executive order that directs federal agencies to begin dismantling the domestic and international climate policies of the Obama administration. While the order itself represents a dramatic reversal in U.S. climate policy, the fight to implement its directives has just begun. Environmental groups responded almost immediately, filing a number of legal challenges aimed at slowing — or stopping altogether — Trump’s attempts to roll back climate action. The first, filed the day after Trump released his executive order, was in response to the Interior Department’s decision to restart the federal coal leasing process without concluding a review of the program begun by the Obama administration. In the lawsuit, a coalition of environmental groups, along with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, challenged that decision,...

Read More...


Coalition Takes Trump’s Order to Pillage Public Lands for Coal to Court

by Andrea Germanos – “This isn’t putting Americans first, this is putting corporate polluters first.” A day after President Donald Trump “took a wrecking ball to U.S. action on climate change” with an executive order that included lifting his predecessor’s pause on new federal coal leases, a coalition of groups has filed a legal challenge to stop the widespread damage the rescission would bring about. Opening public lands to coal leasing, say the groups, which include Citizens for Clean Energy, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife, serves only to fatten the coffers of coal executives, rip off taxpayers, befoul the air and water, threaten wildlife, and fuel climate change. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by Earthjustice. The pause, which the Obama administration put in place in 2016, was to conduct a review of the program to ensure that it offers “a fair return to taxpayers and reflect...

Read More...


Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report – A scientific study published in the prestigious journal Palaeoworld in December issued a dire — and possibly prophetic — warning, though it garnered little attention in the media. “Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic,” reads the study’s abstract. “But the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.” The study, titled “Methane Hydrate: Killer Cause of Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction,” highlights the fact that the most significant variable in the Permian Mass Extinction event, which occurred 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of all the species on the planet, was methane hydrate. In the wake of that mass extinction event, less than 5 percent of the animal species in the seas lived, and less than one-third of the large land animal species made it. Nearly all the trees died. Methane hydrate, according to...

Read More...


Contrary to Spin, Trump Slashing Energy Jobs With New Executive Order

by Nika Knight – “These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.” As the Trump administration brags that Tuesday’s executive order to dismantle Obama-era climate regulations will create coal industry jobs, new employment data from the Department of Energy (DoE) demonstrates how misguided that claim is. Clean energy employs many more Americans than the fossil fuel industry, and economic forecasts show that the trend will continue, according to a Sierra Club analysis published Monday of the DoE’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (pdf) released earlier this year. “Clean energy jobs, including those from solar, wind, energy efficiency, smart grid technology, and battery storage, vastly outnumber all fossil fuel jobs nationwide from the coal, oil and gas sectors. That includes jobs in power generation, mining, and other forms of fossil fuel extraction,” the Sierra Club...

Read More...


TV Coverage of Climate Fell 66 Percent During a Record-Setting Year for Global Warming

by Joe Romm – Trump’s budget targets federal funding of PBS, the one network with the most climate coverage. In 2016, the major networks’ coverage of climate change dropped by two thirds compared to 2015. In fact, climate coverage last year was close to its lowest levels since 2009, according to a new analysis by MediaMatters of the evening and Sunday news programs that air on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. This drop is despite historic wildfires, extreme weather events like Hurricane Matthew, and month after month of record-breaking global temperatures. And, of course, there was a presidential campaign between two people who have diametrically opposed views on the gravest preventable threat to the United States and the world. During the campaign, the major networks spent no time examining the climate policy differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — despite their vast disagreement on domestic action, the Paris climate agreement, and whether...

Read More...


‘Earth is a Planet in Upheaval’: World Meteorological Organization Issues Dire Climate Warning

by Joe Romm – “Truly uncharted territory” 2016’s record-warming continues in 2017 with Jan-Feb 2017 the second hottest on record after 2016. CREDIT: NOAA Humanity is “now in truly uncharted territory,” thanks to CO2-driven climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned Tuesday. The WMO’s annual “State of the Global Climate in 2016” paints a dire picture for humanity: record CO2 levels, record warming, record drop in both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, and record high sea levels. Severe droughts “brought food insecurity to millions in southern and eastern Africa and Central America.” NOAA reported this month that the record-smashing warming of 2016 continued into 2017. In this country, “there were 11,743 daily warm temperature records broken or tied” in February alone. Globally, it was the second hottest February and January-February on record after 2016. “Earth is a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere,” as University of Arizona...

Read More...


Coal Giant to Receive Award for Bankruptcy Deal that Screwed Over its Workers

by Natasha Geiling – The country’s second-largest coal supplier, fresh off bankruptcy, will receive the “Restructuring Deal of the Year” award. It’s been a wild year for Arch Coal, the country’s second-largest producer of coal. In January, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; less than a year later, they won approval for a restructuring deal that allowed them to cut millions in debt from their books and emerge relatively unscathed. On Thursday night, as part of the 2017 Distressed Investing Event, Arch Coal will receive an award for that deal, despite the fact that the restructuring benefited company executives while leaving workers and the environment worse off. “Arch Coal shed hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in debt by short-changing both their commitments to worker health care and pensions and their environmental cleanup obligations,” Mary Anne Hitt, director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, told ThinkProgress. “Economically their prospects...

Read More...


Memo to FBI: If Team Trump and Putin Colluded, any Money Trail Likely Involves Oil

by Joe Romm – Russia sold off one-fifth of its state-owned oil giant in December, but we still don’t know who bought it all. As the FBI investigates possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, one aspect merits closer examination: the $11 billion post-election sale of 19.5 percent of the Kremlin-controlled oil giant Rosneft. If there was an actual quid pro quo between Trump officials and the Russian government, it may well involve that sale for two reasons. First, prior to the election, “most industry watchers had written off the chances of a foreign investor being found for Rosneft,” as Fortune explained at the time. But electing someone who had vowed to improve relations with Russia appears to have changed the economic landscape. Second, as Reuters has detailed, Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to sell off this “oil jewel without saying who bought it.” In this post, I’ll attempt to connect...

Read More...


US Ditches Human Rights Hearing in ‘Unprecedented Show of Disrespect’

by Nadia Prupis – ACLU had planned to drill officials on immigration, DAPL, and Muslim ban, but representatives from various departments never showed. The U.S. failed to show up to a human rights hearing in an “unprecedented show of disrespect to the international community,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Tuesday. In a surprise move, the government ditched a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an arm of the Organization of American States, where the ACLU had planned to drill officials on the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration; its ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries; and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), among other issues. The civil rights group had filed an emergency request for the meeting in February, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. That order, as well as its follow-up mandate, issued last month, have since...

Read More...


Trump’s America: Two Coal Plants Announce Closures in Ohio, Layoffs at Carrier Factories in Indiana

by Jen Hayden – Remember when Donald Trump appeared in Indiana to announce he’d saved 1,100 jobs at that Carrier and United Technologies were planning to send to Mexico? A refresher from early December: “But I will tell you that United Technologies and Carrier stepped it up and now they’re keeping — actually the number’s over 1,100 people, which is so great, which is so great …. I just noticed — I wrote down because I heard it — since about six years ago, 260 new federal regulations have passed, 53 of which affect this plant. Fifty-three new regulations. Massively expensive and probably none of them amount to anything in terms of safety or the things that you’d have regulations for.” His fans cheered and chanted, hailing their king of bankruptcy for saving all those jobs. Except, as the Washington Post later mentioned, those numbers were—the jobs and the regulations— false. This week significant...

Read More...


Climate Kids Demand Feds Turn Over ‘Wayne Tracker’ (aka Rex Tillerson) Emails

by Andrea Germanos – “When looking for evidence of a cover-up, emails from Rex Tillerson’s pseudonym about climate change are just the kind of evidence the court needs to see.” Lawyers representing youth in a landmark climate lawsuit are demanding to see the emails Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent using the alias “Wayne Tracker” while serving as CEO of ExxonMobil. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office made the claim of the email alias last week in a court filing as part of its investigation into the oil giant’s climate cover-up. The filing said Tillerson used the “Tracker” account to discuss climate change and other matters from at least 2008-2015. In the youths’ case, as Common Dreams wrote, the 21 “co-plaintiffs argue that by failing to act on climate change, the U.S. government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights and their rights to vital public trust resources.” Their legal...

Read More...


East Chicago’s Pleas for Clean Drinking Water Go Unanswered as Trump Moves to Weaken EPA

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Environmental justice is on the chopping block at the Environmental Protection Agency, and that doesn’t bode well for communities like East Chicago, Indiana, where the agency recently discovered that drinking water is contaminated with lead. Nearly three weeks ago, a number of East Chicago churches and community groups petitioned the EPA to take emergency action and protect the majority-Black community from lead poisoning, which can cause a long list of health problems, especially in children. As of Tuesday, the local leaders and their environmentalist allies had yet to hear back from the agency. The EPA’s inaction in East Chicago comes as Trump’s administration considers massive budget cuts that could crush the agency’s environmental justice program, which is supposed to ensure the fair treatment of low-income communities, Native communities and people of color under environmental law. The agency’s environmental justice office is slated...

Read More...


Turtle Found Covered in Barnacles and Leeches Receives Epic Sendoff

by Amelia Kinney – Hundreds cheered as a rescued Loggerhead turtle named Poppy returned to the wild. A crowd of five hundred gathered last weekend to watch the release of a loggerhead turtle named Poppy back into the wild. According to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, “Poppy was found floating near Hutchinson Island last October covered in barnacles and leeches. Initial bloodwork showed anemia, hypoglycemia and overall poor health due to starvation”. Poppy spent almost six months at the turtle rehabilitation center, receiving much-needed treatments. IUCN’s Red List classifies the loggerhead sea turtle as a species vulnerable to extinction. National Geographic attributes this consistent population decline to “pollution, shrimp trawling, and development in their nesting areas”. Sea turtles are especially vulnerable to ocean pollution, as they often mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish. Aside from releasing toxic compounds, ingested plastics can cause “intestinal blockage, reduced nutrient absorption and malnutrition,...

Read More...


Budget Will Drive Up Republican Voters’ Energy Bills

by Joe Romm – Two key programs that help the elderly and rural poor reduce their energy bills will be cut. President Trump’s new federal budget continues a remarkable pattern of being gratuitously cruel to his own voters. The just-released budget zeroes out the two major programs designed to help low-income and elderly Americans deal with energy costs: the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). “Families receiving weatherization services see their annual energy bills reduced by an average of about $437, depending on fuel prices,” according to DOE data. In 2010, the program saved low-income families a whopping $2.1 billion. Cutting it will save $121 million. The program, though, is targeted toward low-income Americans, “especially low-income persons who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, the disabled, and children.” There is a huge...

Read More...


“Morally Obscene” Trump Budget Proposal Stands to Make America Cruel Again

by Deirdre Fulton – Environment, public education, worker protections, and cultural institutions all stand to lose under Trump’s “cruel” budget blueprint.   Meals on Wheels. Amtrak. Teacher training, after-school, and summer educational programs. The National Endowment for the Arts. The Appalachian Regional Commission. The National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All these initiatives and agencies—plus many more—face cuts or wholesale elimination under President Donald Trump’s proposed “skinny budget,” officially unveiled Thursday. Meanwhile, the blueprint calls for increases in military spending, border and immigration enforcement, and money for charter and private schools. The Washington Post has a comprehensive breakdown, with graphics, here. The document was variously denounced as “an all-out assault on our planet;” “dirty and dangerous;” “cruel;” and “unacceptable.” “President Trump’s budget is morally obscene and bad economic policy,” declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “It will cause devastating pain to the very people Trump promised to help...

Read More...


House Dems Send Educational Materials to Help Scott Pruitt Get a Grip on Basic Climate Science

by Andrea Germanos – “It’s clear that you need to read the enclosed reports.” Given the lack of understanding of basic climate science Scott Pruitt displayed on a recent appearance on CNBC, 33 House Democrats have sent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head educational materials to help him get a grip on established facts. Speaking last week to the network’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt sparked the ire of climate groups—and contradicted his own statements to the U.S. Senate—when he said, “I would not agree that is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” “As Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt must understand these non-controversial concepts,” a press statement from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) states. Blumenauer, along with 32 of his House colleagues including Reps. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) sent to Pruitt a brief letter as well...

Read More...


China is Building a National Park 60% Larger than Yellowstone to Protect Siberian Tigers

by Amanda Froelich – China is preparing to build a 5,600-square mile national park to protect the Siberian tiger, Amur leopard, and a few other endangered species. Not everything is bigger in the United States… In only a handful of years, a national park 60% larger than Yellowstone will be constructed in northeast China, in the Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces. The project has been approved so that Siberian tigers, which are endangered due to poaching and habitat loss – primarily from logging, will be protected. Amur leopards will also find sanctuary in the new national park. Conservation efforts, including a logging ban, have helped increased the population of wild Siberian tigers in the area from six to nine in 1998 to 27 in 2015, reports the Shanghaiist. However, the current reserve for the tigers is not large enough for the species to thrive, which is why a park which will...

Read More...


New York AG: SoS Tillerson Used Email Alias for Climate Messages While CEO of ExxonMobil

by Neapolitan – Well, isn’t this special. Bloomberg is reporting that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly used an email alias account for many years to discuss climate change matters while he was CEO of ExxonMobil in what appears to be an effort to keep sensitive communications out of the eyes of the public, Exxon’s shareholders, and, possibly, investigators. New York says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an email alias to discuss climate change while he was chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp.: Wayne Tracker. Tillerson sent messages from the account to discuss the risks posed by climate change, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a court filing about his office’s fraud investigation of the company. Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used the Wayne Tracker account on the Exxon system from at least 2008 through 2015, Schneiderman said. Schneiderman made the claim in a letter Monday to Justice Barry Ostrager...

Read More...


Another Sign Just Came in That Tar Sands Operations Are on Life Support

by Andrea Germanos – ‘Societal acceptance of the energy system as we have it is just disappearing,’ Shell chief executive said. Royal Dutch Shell announced last Thursday that it is selling off the majority of its tar sands assets, as its chief executive noted dwindling “societal acceptance of the energy system as we have it.” Of the $7.25 billion deal with energy company Canadian Natural, Shell said in a statement that it will “sell all of its in-situ and undeveloped oil sands interests in Canada and reduce its share in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) from 60 percent to 10 percent.” As InsideClimate News noted, the sale is “one of the biggest in a series of steps by multinational companies to turn away from the tar sands, among the most expensive and carbon-intensive sources of oil.” For Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden, it marks “a significant step in...

Read More...


Pruitt Promised He’d Tackle CO2 But Now Plays Dumb on Climate Science

by Nika Knight – ‘The arsonist is now in charge of the fire department, and he seems happy to let the climate crisis burn out of control.’ \Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt made heads turn on CNBC Thursday morning when he argued against decades of scientific consensus and said that carbon dioxide emissions aren’t a primary driver of global warming. In doing so, Pruitt directly opposed his own statements to the U.S. Senate. (This wouldn’t be the first time that Pruitt lied to or misled Congress.) In his answer to a question on the record (pdf, page 122) from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Pruitt wrote: “I also believe the Administrator has an important role when it comes to the regulation of carbon dioxide, which I will fulfill consistent with Massachusetts v. EPA and the agency’s Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases respective of the applicable statutory framework established by Congress.”...

Read More...


Will Electric Cars Soon have Solar Roofs? Toyota and Tesla say Yes.

by Joe Romm – Advanced Panasonic solar modules triple the output of Toyota’s previous solar roof. Last week, Panasonic announced an advanced solar panel system that will debut on the 2017 model Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid in Japan (the Prius Prime). It is “the first commercially available, mass-produced passenger car to feature an optional solar charging system,” PV magazine explained. Panasonic notes that, previously, rooftop solar cells had outputs of only “several tens of watts.” So they were used only for ventilating parked cars and “auxiliary charging” of the standard 12-Volt lead-acid battery. But improvements in solar efficiency combined with advanced design and “technologies to laminate three-dimensional curved glass” have allowed a high output — some 180 watts, which is more than triple the output of the previous solar roof. As a result, this battery can charge the lithium-ion powertrain batteries, providing up to an additional 3.7 miles of range on a sunny day....

Read More...


This Program has Saved Taxpayers Hundreds of Billions of Dollars. The GOP Wants to Cut it

by Samantha Page – The Energy Star efficiency program costs less than .001 percent of the DoD budget. As the federal government braces for the administration’s so-called “skinny budget,” expected late next week, rumors of what, exactly, will be cut keep circulating. Among the programs reported to be on the Trump administration’s chopping block: the popular, cheap, effective Energy Star consumer labeling program from the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. The United States spends about $57 million a year on the Energy Star efficiency standards program. Under Energy Star, scientists create guidelines and test new consumer goods for efficiency — new washing machines, for instance. The programs most recently launched standard is for electric vehicle chargers, which gives some sense of how far-ranging and modern this program is. It’s also a huge money-saver. Since it was established in the 1990s, the Energy Star program has saved U.S. consumers some $360 billion, mostly...

Read More...


Climate Scientist: Trump Budget is ‘an All-Out Assault on Earth’

by Joe Romm – Defunding NOAA’s satellites will also hurt weather forecasts, jeopardizing public safety, experts warn. Donald Trump’s “see no evil” approach to climate change became dangerously real this week. A four-page White House budget memo secured by The Washington Post reveals the Trump administration wants a 17 percent cut in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s overall budget — with the deepest cuts coming from earth observation. NOAA studies the atmosphere and oceans — often using satellites — to better understand climate and weather. Under the draft Trump plan, NOAA’s satellite program would be cut by more than a half billion dollars. These cuts would be “devastating” both to NOAA and the United States, extreme-weather expert Dr. Kevin Trenberth told ThinkProgress. “All of the major fronts in advancing weather forecasting and El Nino forecasts come from climate research involving interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean, and land surface and moisture flows. Satellite data are a vital...

Read More...


China Smashes Solar Energy Records, as Coal Use and CO2 Emissions Fall Once Again

by Joe Romm – With millions of jobs up for grabs, China seizes clean tech leadership from U.S. We are witnessing a historic passing of the baton of global leadership on technology and climate from the United States to China. The new U.S. administration has said it will abandon climate action, gut clean energy funding, and embrace coal and oil — the dirty energy sources of the past that experts say can’t create a large number of sustainable new jobs. At the same time, China is slashing coal use and betting heavily on clean energy, which is clearly going to be the biggest new source of permanent high-wage jobs in the coming years. Indeed, Beijing plans to invest a stunning $360 billion by 2020 in renewable generation alone, and China’s energy agency says the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.” Renewable energy jobs in select countries (excluding large hydropower). CREDIT: IRENA In...

Read More...


Threatening Clean Water for Millions, Trump Signs Off on Polluter Giveaway

by Lauren McCauley – Environmental organizations say “Trump’s dirty water order is dangerous and illegal, based on corporate greed and unlawful environmental pollution.” Throwing the weight of his office behind the nation’s biggest polluters, President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing his administration to dismantle the Obama-era Clean Water Rule. Surrounded by other foes of environmental regulation, including the newly confirmed EPA head Scott Pruitt, the president declared the 2015 law, also known as Waters of the United States, “a horrible, horrible rule. Has sort of a nice name, but everything else is bad.” Passed under former President Barack Obama, the Clean Water Rule extends Clean Water Act protections to streams and wetlands. As The Hill observed Tuesday, Trump’s move is seen as “an opening shot by Trump against the EPA, which was a frequent target of criticism from Republicans for alleged overreach under Obama’s tenure.” Though implementation...

Read More...


Biologists Warn Half of All Species to Face Extinction by 2100, as GOP Pushes to Destroy Protections

by Nika Knight – Days after Republican lawmakers speechified about dismantling the Endangered Species Act, biologists ring alarm bells about global mass extinction. Today, 20 percent of all species are at risk of being wiped out, scientists at a Vatican conference on biodiversity warn, and that number may rise to nearly 50 percent by the end of the century. “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” warned the conference organizers. Biologists, ecologists, and economists traveled to Rome from around the world for the workshop titled “How to Save the Natural World on Which We Depend,” which begins Monday, to strategize together on how to limit the mass extinction event caused by rampant over-development, climate change, overpopulation, and unsustainable agricultural practices. The meeting sharply contrasts with last week’s U.S. Senate hearing on how to “modernize the Endangered Species Act ,”...

Read More...


EPA Administrator Lied about Private Email use in Senate Testimony

by Bryce Covert – Thousands of emails Scott Pruitt sent to oil and gas companies still haven’t been disclosed. An investigation by Fox 25 in Oklahoma has confirmed that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt used a private email account to conduct official business while he was the state’s attorney general, directly contradicting what he told the Senate during his confirmation hearing. During his hearing, Pruitt was asked by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), “Have you ever conducted business using your personal email accounts, nonofficial Oklahoma Attorney General email accounts, text messages, instant messenger, voicemails, or any other medium?” Pruitt responded, “I use only my official OAG email address and government issued phone to conduct official business.” But the Oklahoma attorney general’s office confirmed to Fox 25 that Pruitt used private email for state business after an Open Records Request revealed documents where certain email addresses...

Read More...


President Trump’s Coming War on Science: Environment Edition

by Alison Cassady – On February 17, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Observers can now expect the Trump administration—with Congress providing the wind at Administrator Pruitt’s back—to charge ahead with an aggressive agenda to weaken or nullify a decade’s worth of progress on pollution reduction. President Donald Trump and Administrator Pruitt are likely to start off by announcing plans to dismantle the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which set the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, and other components of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. They may also attack an Obama-era rule to protect the nation’s waterways from pollution. In addition to taking on specific environmental protections, President Trump and Congress are likely to pursue a more pernicious strategy to deny or obscure basic facts and science about climate change and assert new supposed truths...

Read More...


This Isn’t Just Trump. This Is Who the Republicans Are (VIDEO)

by Dave Johnson – So far President Donald Trump has signed very few bills. One lets coal companies dump waste into streams. Another lets oil companies bribe foreign dictators in secret. Now he is moving to block a Labor Department “fiduciary rule” that requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients when advising on retirement accounts. Here’s the thing: this isn’t just Trump doing this. The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed those two bills, and the Republicans have been fighting that fiduciary rule tooth and nail. It’s not just Trump, Republicans as a party are using Trump to engage in a general assault on protections from corruption, pollution, corporate fraud and financial scams. This is who they are. “We Just Need A President To Sign This Stuff” This is not just Trump. What we are seeing happening to our government is the end result of a decades-long...

Read More...


Major Outdoor Retailers Boycott Utah over Threats to Sell off Public Lands

by Jenny Rowland and Nicole Gentile – “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line.” After countless attempts by Utah politicians to sell off or abolish national parks, forests, and national monuments, the world’s largest outdoor gear show has decided to take its business out of the state. “Outdoor Industry Association will continue to support the efforts of Outdoor Retailer to seek a new home for the trade show,” Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, said in a statement. “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line that we partner with states and elected officials who share our views on the truly unique American value of public lands for the people and conserving our outdoor heritage for the next generation.” After 20 years of hosting the bi-annual outdoor retailer show in Salt Lake City, organizers of the show finalized their decision to move...

Read More...


Keystone XL Developer Files Pipeline Application in Nebraska

by Samantha Page – TransCanada is expected to try to use eminent domain for parts of the route. TransCanada just took another step toward getting its beleaguered Keystone XL pipeline back on track: the oil company filed an application Thursday with a Nebraska agency for route approval. The move is the first state-level application for the company since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum in January directing the State Department to review the pipeline’s federal application within 60 days. TransCanada submitted its new application to the State Department on January 26. “This application has been shaped by direct, on-the-ground input from Nebraskans,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The thousands of Nebraskans we have met over the last eight years understand the value of this project and what it means to the state. As we have said consistently, safety and a respect for the environment remain our...

Read More...


Senate Confirms “Worst, Most Dangerous Administrator in EPA History”

by Andrea Germanos – With fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt now in charge, now ‘begins the fight of a lifetime to protect public health, our environment, climate stability, and even the simple sanctity of the EPA itself.’ Portending risks to “the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we love,” the U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 52-46 vote comes a day after an Oklahoma judge said Pruitt was in violation of the state’s Open Records Act and ordered the release of thousands of emails between his office and fossil fuel companies. Senate Democrats said that warranted a delay on Pruitt’s confirmation, but Republicans pushed the vote ahead. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.) joined Republicans to vote in favor of Pruitt; thus, wrote Esquire‘s Charles Pierce, “we must assume that two Democratic...

Read More...


Saudis Plan $2 Trillion IPO to End Their ‘Dangerous’ Addiction to Oil

by Joe Romm – Saudi Aramco will go public to monetize its oil reserves before demand peaks and price collapses for good. What does a country do when in its entire economy is built around a natural resource that the world is starting to shift away from? In the case of Saudi Arabia, they plan their own shift off oil — financed by the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) of stock, some 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company. Last year, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the plan to take Aramco, which the Saudis value at some $2 trillion, public. Last month, the Financial Times reported those plans are on track for an IPO next year, noting that Saudi advisers say a successful IPO “is essential to the deputy crown prince’s radical efforts to wean the kingdom off oil through his Vision 2030 programme.” Credit: Financial Times The...

Read More...


U.S. Solar Installations Jumped 95 Percent Last Year

by Samantha Page – There was more solar capacity added in 2016 than any other type of electricity generation. If humanity wants to have any chance of slowing the rapid warming of the climate, people need to stop burning fossil fuels — but no one wants to go without electricity. That’s why it’s encouraging that U.S. solar installations nearly doubled last year, increasing 95 percent over 2015’s installations, and adding 14,626 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic electricity generation capacity to the U.S. grid, according to preliminary data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). All segments — residential, non-residential, and utility-scale — saw growth from 2015 to 2016. The non-residential sector includes community solar and commercial installations The report notes that 22 states added more than 100 MW of solar capacity last year — a new record. Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were all mentioned as rising solar powerhouses in the report. The geographical diversity (California,...

Read More...


Anthropocene Math in the Age of Trump: Humans Are Running Out of Time to Save the Climate

by Nika Knight – Industrialized societies are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces. As the Trump administration and Republicans in power in Congress set to work destroying environmental regulations, scientists have added urgency to the resistance with a simple new equation that shows the staggering effect human activity has had on the climate. Their findings? Humans have altered the climate 170 times faster than natural forces. In fact, the equation revealed that industrial societies pack the same climate punch as an asteroid strike. Professor Will Steffen of the Australian National University and Owen Gaffney of the Stockholm Resilience Centre devised the “Anthropocene equation” and published their findings in The Anthropocene Review Friday. The equation demonstrates that while natural forces dominated the climate for 4.5 billion years, in only the past six decades, humans have become the main drivers of climate change, as the Guardian notes. Perhaps the researchers’ most frightening...

Read More...


North Dakota Bills Could Strip Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters of Their Rights

by Carimah Townes – Standing Rock protesters face five new threats. Over the weekend, veterans flocked to Standing Rock to shield Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters from law enforcement — the second time they’ve done so in recent months. But North Dakota lawmakers are now planning to radically constrict the right of DAPL opponents, including veterans, to demonstrate against the project. There are currently four bills in the state’s House and Senate that create new criminal penalties for acts of protest or heighten existing penalties. And there is a fifth bill that could put demonstrators in physical danger. HB 1193 turns a misdemeanor offense into a felony if the offense is “done intentionally to cause direct or indirect economic harm in excess of one thousand dollars to the government or to a person.” HB 1203 states that drivers who “negligently” injure or kill people obstructing traffic will not be responsible for the damage caused....

Read More...


Hundreds of Pilot Whales Refloat After Mass Strandings

More than 200 beached pilot whales free themselves at high tide and swim away amid mass strandings on South Island. At least 200 whales stranded on a remote New Zealand beach managed to refloat themselves at high tide on Saturday and return to sea, but conservation officials warned the beachings may not be over. More than 650 pilot whales beached themselves along Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island in two separate mass strandings over the past several days. On Thursday, volunteers managed to refloat nearly 100 of the stranded pilot whales. About 350 whales have died, including 20 that were euthanised. Hundreds of volunteers from farmers to tourists have spent days at the beach dousing the whales with buckets of water to keep them cool and trying to refloat them. “People seem to have an emotional attachment to marine mammals,” said Department of Conservation spokesman Herb...

Read More...


The GOP Plan to Prevent a Repeat of Obama’s Climate Action

by JOHN LIGHT – Congress is moving to get rid of a legal precedent that allowed the EPA to tackle climate change under President Obama. Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, attracted some attention last week for his opposition to a Supreme Court precedent that undergirds many of the regulations put forth by federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. Congress has also taken up the cause, pushing new legislation that would undo this precedent. And if Gorsuch would like to pare back agencies’ power using a scalpel, Congress intends to go about the job using a sledgehammer, environmental advocates say. At issue is Chevron deference, also called the Chevron doctrine. Stemming from a 1984 Supreme Court case, Chevron deference is the concept that if Congress makes a vague law, a regulatory agency can fill in the blanks — within reason. A lot of...

Read More...


‘Not on Our Watch’ — Veterans Promise ‘Boots on the Ground’ to Stop DAPL

by: Claire Bernish / The Free Thought Project –  A group of veterans has vowed to defend the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, saying DAPL will never be completed, ‘not on our watch.’ A group of U.S. military veterans, standing in defense of Indigenous rights, has vowed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline will never be completed — and will put boots on the ground to ensure it. “We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected,” Anthony Diggs, spokesman for Veterans Stand, told CNBC. “That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch.” Veterans, said Diggs, seek to raise enough funds “to have a larger, solid boots-on-the-ground presence.” As staunch a stance as that might sound, the veterans remain committed to nonviolent action in defense...

Read More...


Here’s What a Defunded EPA Means for America

by JOHN LIGHT – The agency Trump plans to eviscerate does much more than fight climate change. We’re two weeks into the Trump administration and already it’s clear that on the campaign trail our new president was not overstating his antipathy for efforts to combat global warming. In fact, if anything, he understated his desire to demolish the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal agency through which President Obama tried to reduce climate change-causing pollution. While the long-term effects of President Trump’s plans for the EPA are worrying — the director of the EU’s Environmental Agency says there’s “not a snowball’s chance in hell” of containing global warming without US cooperation — his proposed cuts in the budget and staff at the agency will also have dramatic short-term effects. Here’s just some of what’s in store: Trump’s team has more than $800 million in budget cuts planned for the agency. To head...

Read More...