What has gone wrong? Why has the true value of clean air and water, of sustainable exploitation of natural resources, of alternative forms of energy, of protection from persistent poisons, not been fully understood and embraced by the larger public that will certainly suffer the consequences? What have environmentalists failed to do to promote their accomplishments and enlist legions to their cause? Why is the protection of land and sea?—?all that the natural world provides for our well-being?—?not celebrated as the fundamental principle on which to build our future? The natural environment in the United States is under attack as never before. […]
“Lightweighting” often shrinks down packaging into items that are unrecyclable, difficult to capture, highly polluted and designed without end-of-life solutions. […]
(CHICAGO) — Environmental groups that vowed to fight President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back his predecessor’s plans to curb global warming made good on their promise Wednesday, teaming up with an American Indian tribe to ask a federal court to block an order that lifts restrictions on coal sales from federal lands. The Interior Department last year placed a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands to review the climate change impacts of burning the fuel and whether taxpayers were getting a fair return. But Trump on Tuesday signed a sweeping executive order that included lifting the moratorium, and also initiated a review of former President Barack Obama’s signature plan to restrict greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. Environmentalists say lifting the moratorium will worsen climate change and allow coal to be sold for unfairly low prices. “It’s really just a hail Mary to a dying industry,” said Jenny Harbine, an Earthjustice attorney who filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Montana on behalf of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Sierra Club, and Center for Biological Diversity. The White House did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the lawsuit. The Department of Justice declined comment. Environmental groups have been preparing for months to fight the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks, including by hiring more lawyers and raising money. Trump, who has called global warming a “hoax” invented by the Chinese, said during his campaign that he would kill Obama’s climate plans and bring back coal jobs. Advocates said they also will work to mobilize public opposition to the executive order, saying they expect a backlash from Americans who worry about climate change. “This is not what most people elected Trump to do,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Poll after poll shows that the public supports climate action.” A poll released in September found 71% of Americans want the U.S. government to do something about global warming, including 6 percent who think the government should act even though they are not sure that climate change is happening. That poll, which also found most Americans are willing to pay a little more each month to fight global warming, was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. While Republicans have blamed Obama-era environmental regulations for the loss of coal jobs, federal data show that U.S. mines have been losing jobs for decades because of automation and competition from natural gas; solar panels and wind turbines now can produce emissions-free electricity cheaper than burning coal. But many people in coal country are counting on the jobs that Trump has promised, and industry advocates praised his orders. “These executive actions are a welcome departure from the previous administration’s strategy of making energy more expensive through costly, job-killing regulations that choked our economy,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue. Trump’s order also will initiate a review of efforts to reduce methane emissions in oil and natural gas production, and will rescind Obama-era actions that addressed climate change and national security and efforts to prepare the country for the impacts of climate change. The administration still is deciding whether to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. And on Wednesday, the administration asked a federal appeals court to postpone a ruling on lawsuits over the Clean Power Plan, the Obama initiative to limit carbon from power plants, saying it could be changed or rescinded. A coalition of 16 states and the District of Columbia said they will oppose any effort to withdraw the plan or seek dismissal of a pending legal case, while environmental advocates said they’re also ready to step in to defend environmental laws if the U.S. government does not. “The president doesn’t get to simply rewrite safeguards; they have to … prove the changes are in line with the law and science,” said the NRDC’s Goldston. “I think that’s going to be a high hurdle for them.” Environmentalists say Trump’s actions will put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage to other countries that are embracing clean energy, which they say could create thousands of new jobs. Even so, they believe efforts to revive coal ultimately will fail because many states and industries already have been switching to renewable energy or natural gas. “Those decisions are being made at the state level and plant by plant,” said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen, who said his group is “continuing to work aggressively to retire dirty coal plants.” “Coal is not coming back,” Van Noppen added. “While the president is taking big splashy action, he is actually doomed to fail.” Associated Press writers Michael Biesecker and Sam Hananel in Washington also contributed to this story. […]
For the sake of your health and that of the aquatic environment, get to know what’s in your dishwashing liquid. […]
Nanette Barragán is used to facing off against polluters. Elected in 2013 to the city council of Hermosa Beach, California, she took on E&B Natural Resources, an oil and gas company looking to drill wells on the beach. Barragán, an attorney before going into politics, learned of the potential project and began campaigning for residents to vote against it. The project was eventually squashed. In November, she won a congressional seat in California’s 44th district.
To Barragán, making sure President Trump’s environmental rollbacks don’t affect communities is a matter of life or death. The district she represents, the same in which she grew up, encompasses heavily polluted parts of Los Angeles County — areas crisscrossed with freeways and dotted with oil and gas wells. Barragan says she grew up close to a major highway and suffered from allergies. “I now go back and wonder if it was related to living that close,” she says.
Exide Technologies, a battery manufacturer that has polluted parts of southeast Los Angeles County with arsenic, lead, and other chemicals for years, sits just outside her district’s borders. Barragán’s district is also 69 percent Latino and 15 percent black. She has become acutely aware of the environmental injustices of the pollution plaguing the region. “People who are suffering are in communities of color,” she says.
Now in the nation’s capital, Barragán is chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s newly formed environmental task force and a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which considers legislation on topics like energy and public lands and is chaired by climate denier Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican. She knows the next four years will be tough but says she’s up for the challenge. “I think it’s going to be, I hate to say it, a lot of defense.”
Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.
The electricity-free system could be used in refugee camps. […]
Trump’s inauguration in January marked the start of high levels of distress across the world as news of his policies spreads across the globe.But in the midst of it all Norway sees a ray of hope for its plans in the Arctic Circle.Officials from Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs say Trump’s business background may suit their development goals better than Obama’s pro-environment policies.“The Trump administration is more in line with our point of view [about the Arctic], which is more use than protection,” said Bjørn Midthun, from Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a conference on the Arctic in January.Norway is one of eight countries in the Arctic Council, a governing body composed of the nations with territory in the Arctic. As climate change dramatically changes the landscape in the region, the council finds itself exploring opportunities that weren’t possible before.An estimated 100 billion barrels of oil and 35 trillion cubic metres of natural gas are believed to be in the region, according to researchers from the University College London. These reserves are becoming more easily accessible as climate change thaws sea ice and makes the region increasingly navigable. Countries like Norway see this as an opportunity to expand exports through the Arctic.But environmental experts are concerned. The Arctic is widely considered to be the canary in the coal mine of the effects of climate change […]