Trump Administration

Signaling More Independence from the US, the World Bank Phases out its Support for Fossil Fuels

Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank and Emmanual Macron of France

By Elon University

The World Bank, which provides developing countries about US$60 billion a year in financial assistance, is officially phasing out its support for the oil and gas industries.

This move brings its actions more in sync with its overarching commitment to slowing the pace of climate change and keeping the Paris agreement on track. Based on my research regarding international relations, I see this move — which World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced in December — as significant for two reasons.

2017 Weather and Climate Disasters Cost US Record $306 Billion

LA Firefighting helicopter drops water on a burning home near Burbank, CA in 2017

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

2017, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also an extremely costly year. According to a new reportfrom the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion, with total costs of approximately $306 billion—a new U.S. annual record.”

The federal agency listed several noteworthy events, including the wildfires in the west, with total costs of $18 billion, tripling the previous U.S. annual wildfire cost record.

Trump's Offshore Oil Drilling Plans Ignore the Lessons of BP Deepwater Horizon Spill

Boat skimming oil in the Gulf of Mexico during Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill

By Donald Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

The Trump administration is proposing to ease regulations that were adopted to make offshore oil and gas drilling operations safer after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. This event was the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Eleven workers died in the explosion and sinking of the oil rig, and more than 4 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists have estimated that the spill caused more than US$17 billion in damages to natural resources.

I served on the bipartisan National Commission that investigated the causes of this epic blowout. We spent six months assessing what went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon and the effectiveness of the spill response, conducting our own investigations and hearing testimony from dozens of expert witnesses.

Trump and the Rail Industry Had a Great First Year Together

Oil tank cars

The election of Donald Trump was a big win for the oil and rail industries. Shortly after the election, Edward Hamberger, CEO of the trade group the Association of American Railroads, addressed a conference in New York City, noting that “the policy landscape in Washington, D.C., dramatically shifted on Election Day.”

The trade publication Railway Age also reported Hamberger saying that “Washington leaders can be powerful change agents in fixing a broken regulatory system.”

Of course when the top rail lobbyist talks about “fixing” a broken regulatory system, what he means is moving to a system where the rail industry regulates itself — which is why the rail industry is so fond of President Trump. And why the American public should worry.

How American Cities and States Are Fighting Climate Change Globally

America's Pledge, #WeAreStillIn

By Emma Lecavalier, University of Toronto

Since the Trump administration announced last June its intended withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, attention — and hope — has turned to America’s cities and states.

Many local and regional governments actively voiced support for upholding the United States’ pledges under the Paris Agreement. Initiatives that represented those commitments, including the U.S. Climate Alliance, the We Are Still In declaration and America’s Pledge were all active participants at November’s UN climate conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

The Obscure Federal Agency That Soon Could Raise Your Electric Bill: 5 Questions Answered on FERC

Power lines

By Joshua D. Rhodes, University of Texas at Austin

Editor’s note: On or before Dec. 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to take action on a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that seeks to prevent noncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants from retiring prematurely. Depending on how such a rule is structured, analyses have estimated that it could cost ratepayers in affected regions up to several billion dollars yearly. Energy scholar Joshua Rhodes explains what FERC is and why it has so much power over energy markets and (indirectly) the prices consumers pay.

TransCanada’s Safety Record Played No Role in Nebraska’s Keystone XL Approval

Cushing, Oklahoma Keystone pipeline sign

Today a Nebraska commission handed TransCanada the final permit it needed to build its long-contested Keystone XL pipeline, a decision which did not consider the company’s previous safety violations. The decision to approve the international pipeline comes despite a major oil spill just a few days earlier from the company’s Keystone l line in South Dakota. Pipeline opponents vowed to appeal the approval, which was for a different, slightly longer and more expensive route through Nebraska than the one TransCanada preferred.

Despite Trump Plan to Ditch Paris Accord, Former US Climate Envoy Thinks America Will Be Back

Todd Stern

BONN, GERMANY – Even if Donald Trump successfully withdraws the U.S. from the Paris climate accord in the next three years, Todd Stern, former climate envoy under Obama, doesn’t think the country will be gone from the agreement for good.

I just firmly believe the U.S. will be back in,” he told attendees of the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany. “I don't know exactly when that will be, obviously, but we're gonna be back in.”

Climate Denier Lamar Smith Holds Rare Congressional Hearing on Geoengineering

Rep. Lamar Smith

Geoengineering, hailed in some circles as a potential technofix to the climate change crisis, has taken a step closer to going mainstream.  

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a rare joint subcommittee hearing on November 8, only the second ever congressional hearing of its kind on the topic (the first was held in 2009). The committee invited expert witnesses to discuss the status of geoengineering research and development. Geoengineering is a broad term encompassing sophisticated scientific techniques meant to reverse the impacts of climate change or pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. 

Ironically, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is chaired by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith — a climate science denier who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from ExxonMobil throughout his political career. In fact, Smith actually mentioned “climate change” in his opening remarks for the hearing, in discussing his interest in geoengineering.

Trump Pick for White House Environmental Council Profited from Oil Drilling, Energy Industry Speaking Fees

Kathleen Hartnett White (left) and Donald Trump (right)

Kathleen Hartnett White, President Trump’s nominee to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), has recently made money from both leases on oil drilling and speaking fees at conferences sponsored by the fossil fuel industry. These new details come from Hartnett White’s financial disclosure, obtained by DeSmog.

If her nomination is confirmed, Hartnett White will be charged with interagency coordination of science, energy, and environmental policy and with overseeing crucial environmental review processes for new energy and infrastructure projects. The CEQ, a division of the Executive Office of the President, was established in 1969 as part of the landmark National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

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