US

Defying Trump, Pentagon Moves To Protect Bases From Climate Change

The Pentagon is moving forward with plans to protect its bases and operations from rising seas and other impacts of climate change, despite an order by President Trump to halt climate planning.

On March 28th, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that rescinded all climate change actions within federal agencies. These actions had been mandated by a rule from the former Obama administration that required federal agencies to take the necessary steps to protect their respective agencies from climate threats. The original Obama order required military bases to factor climate change into their planning operations for expansions, existing structures, and future developments.

Newsweek Gives Cato Institute Climate Denier A Platform

In the last 30 days, the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean have played host to four hurricanes, three of which reached category 3 or higher, with Hurricane Irma claiming the title as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

New Study Links Greenhouse Gas Emissions Directly to Fossil Fuel Companies

Smokestack

Less than two years ago, documents surfaced showing that in the 1970s ExxonMobil knew about the damage that fossil fuel emissions were causing to the environment and how they were contributing to global warming. Just a few weeks ago, these reports surfaced again when a recent study led by Harvard researcher Naomi Oreskes showed how the global oil giant had engaged in a decades-long misinformation campaign to cover up the damage that it and other fossil fuel companies were inflicting on the planet.

One of the immediate questions asked by climate-concerned citizens was whether or not this cover-up could result in lawsuits against the oil giant. However, due to the amount of unknown variables in the legal equation, any lawsuit filed against the company appears to be a long shot, at best.

Still, a new peer-reviewed study from the Union of Concerned Scientists and its collaborators may give us some of the missing variables in the legal equation.

Environmental Defense Fund Action Launches Ad Campaign to Protect EPA Budget

A 3-D pie chart made of dollar bills

Fearing that President Donald Trump will make good on his promise to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) political arm, EDF Action, has announced a million dollar ad buy to raise awareness about how these budget cuts will affect the lives of American citizens.

The ad campaign’s goal is to target local television, radio, and online outlets with information about the EPA’s local impact on public health and the environment.

States Band Together to Sue EPA After Agency Backtracks on Pesticide Ban

Pesticide spray sign

In late March, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt decided that his agency would not place an outright ban on a pesticide manufactured by Dow Chemical called chlorpyrifos. The decision came after a federal court ordered the EPA to make a final decision on whether or not to ban the pesticide, which the Obama administration had proposed banning in 2015. The chemical has been on the market in the United States since 1965 under the brand name Lorsban and indoor use of the chemical has been banned for more than a decade.

In its decision to allow the pesticide to continue being used in the United States, the EPA went against its own agency’s findings that the pesticide presented unnecessary risks to American citizens. And while Pruitt’s EPA officials did not deny those findings, they did claim additional studies on the chemical were still needed before they could ban it, thus allowing the product's continued use.

In the three and a half months since the EPA’s chlorpyrifos decision, the story has become far more complex than the usual “regulators siding with industry” trope that has played out far too often.

New Survey Shows Majority Of Americans Believe Climate Change Is Real And Caused By Human Activity

The current leadership in the United States — the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House — have a hostile relationship with climate change science. Not only has current President Donald Trump suggested that the entire concept is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, but the Legislative Branch of government is populated with a majority of representatives who do not accept the scientific consensus regarding climate change. Not only are these views dangerous for the future of the planet, but a new poll shows that these views are entirely out of sync with a majority of the U.S. population.

According to a new report by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, a majority of people in the United States believe that climate change is real and that it is mostly the result of human activities. The survey shows that 58% of the public now accepts that climate change is mostly caused by human activity, which is the highest level ever recorded of public acceptance of the human role in climate change since Yale began conducting these studies in 2008.

In Dramatic Shift, Kentucky Voters Potentially Becoming Numb to Politicians Talking About Coal Jobs

For years, Republican politicians campaigning in the state of Kentucky have used the fictitious “war on coal” talking point to gain support from voters. From Senator Mitch McConnell who has represented the state in the U.S. Senate for 32 years, to President Donald Trump, the generally accepted rule has been that talking about the importance of coal and coal jobs, while attacking environmental safety standards that put a “burden” on the coal industry, is the key to winning in the state of Kentucky.

But if new reports are to be believed, that conventional wisdom about running a campaign on coal could be suffering the same fate as the coal industry itself.

Trump Admin Proposes 70% Cut To Renewable Energy and Efficiency Programs at Energy Dept

Butcher knife on cutting board with dollar bill cut in half

According to Axios.com, the Trump Administration is proposing a 70 percent reduction in funding for the Department of Energy’s renewable and energy efficiency programs, a move that could severely dampen the recent surge in renewable energy production and job growth.

As Axios points out, a cut this steep will have trouble making its way through Congress, but it sets the bar incredibly low from a negotiation standpoint, meaning that the overall funding for the department will still fall significantly from previous years. Funding for the renewable energy programs dropped from $478 million in 2015 to $451 million in 2016, while energy efficiency programs increased from $721 million to $762 million in the same period.

US Air Quality Improving but White House Looking to Reverse That Progress

Smokestacks emitting pollution

The American Lung Association (ALA) released its “State of the Air” report last week, and the organization found that air quality in U.S. cities has improved in the time period from 2012–2014. The ALA report specifically cites the increased air quality protections and emission reduction programs that first began popping up in the U.S. to improve air quality in the 1970s.

While overall air quality improved in the major cities studied in the report, the ALA did note that short periods of increased air particulate contamination existed in many areas. Furthermore, the ALA added that at least 166 million Americans are currently living in areas where the level of air contaminants exceeds safe limits.

The timing of this report is very important, as the group is hoping to use this information to convince the Trump administration not to repeal or otherwise weaken air quality standards enacted by the Obama administration.

Fossil Fuel Industry Steps in to Help Save Paris Climate Deal for All the Wrong Reasons

Money clenched in a person's hand

In May of 2016, six months before the U.S. presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump said that he would “cancel” the United States’ involvement in the Paris climate accord. Immediately following his election, however, Trump appeared to back-track slightly, saying he had “an open mind” about the agreement. And just this week, his administration canceled a much-hyped meeting to discuss the deal’s future in the U.S.

The back and forth from the administration likely stems from the fact that officials within it are split, with people like senior adviser Stephen Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt urging the president to withdraw from the deal, and people like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that the U.S. should remain in it.

Pressure to stay in the Paris agreement isn’t just coming from members of the White House, either. Polls show that 71 percent of the American public supports the deal, so pulling out would prove to be highly unpopular with American voters. But another faction is begging the president to keep the deal in place: American businesses and fossil fuel companies.

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