LYLLA YOUINES – “There are different types of sustainable mining, and one of those is the actual process of choosing where,” said Blaine Miller-McFeeley, a senior legislative representative at Earthjustice. “That is just as important as choosing how.”
MEL GURTOV – In the next several weeks, President-elect Joe Biden will be preoccupied with creating a 100-day action agenda. It might be called “Operation Renewal.” Here are top-10 choices, in no particular order.
LESLIE GREGORY and DR. TOM H. HASTINGS – Did Trump say out loud, “I’m going to gut the original environmental law of the US and it will affect everyone’s health negatively but the health of black and brown people the most?” Of course not. But that is exactly what is afoot with his intention to roll back major portions of the 1969 germinal environmental lawâ€”the National Environmental Protection Actâ€”the original law upon which all such important protections are built.
ZOE SCHLANGER – â€œPellets make up the second most common type of microplastic that we find, second to fragments which break down from things that are bigger,â€ says Sherri Mason, a plastics pollution researcher at Pennsylvania State University who has published foundational studies on microplastics found in freshwater. She spends much of her time collecting and counting bits of plastic in the environment. â€œI can go to any beach, give me five minutes and Iâ€™ll find a nurdle,â€ she says. â€œAlong a river, 10 minutes. Once you know what a nurdle looks like you find them everywhere.â€
BILL MCKIBBEN – The climate movementâ€™s biggest failure has been its inability to successfully make the case that natural gas is not a clean replacement for other fossil fuels. So as natural gas has boomed, U.S. emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, have increased dramatically.
TOM H. HASTINGS – Since the #GagMeElection of 2016 we have heard a great deal about â€œresistance.â€ Nevertheless, weâ€™ve seen relatively little of it actually happening. Who is doing what toward what announced goal?
SHARON LERNER – For decades, some of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strumâ€™s barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others. As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers.
PETER BERGEL – Not so fast, fellow progressives! Weâ€™ve underestimated Donald Trump a couple of times now. Letâ€™s not do it again. He may be all the things we think he is â€“ racist, xenophobic, narcissistic, homophobic, anti-Muslim, power-mad. At the same time, though, heâ€™s also getting away with a deadly distraction game â€“ one which threatens life on this planet. If you think heâ€™s dumb, think again.
JOHN LAFORGE – â€œWe should be carefully monitoring the oceans after what is certainly the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history,â€ marine chemist Ken Buesseler said last spring. Instead, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency halted its emergency radiation monitoring of Fukushimaâ€™s radioactive plume in May 2011, three months after the disaster began. Japan isnâ€™t even monitoring seawater near Fukushima, according to a Sept. 28 story in â€œThe Ecologist.â€
EMERSON URRY – It seems like we, at EnviroNews, have been reporting on this type of thing all year. That is, sketchy environmental riders being attached to totally unrelated appropriations bills in backdoor efforts to kill environmental and wildlife protections. Yes, this year’s spending bills are littered with Republican-stamped provisions seeking to gut current regulations, while rolling back what little painstaking progress the government has made on the climate issue – this, in an attempt to open the door for limitless carbon pollution, and myriad other industrial plunders.
DAHR JAMAIL – The waters of the Gulf of Alaska are some of the most pristine in the world. That will change next month.
MARC GUNTHER – The EPAâ€™s Clean Power Plan might be the only hope the US has to make a real dent in the climate change battle. So why arenâ€™t more companies onboard? Many environmental groups consider the Obama administrationâ€™s plan to regulate carbon-spewing coal plants, which aims to cut carbon pollution by 30%, as one of our last chances to win the fight against climate change. But the vast majority of their top corporate partners â€“ companies like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, FedEx, UPS, Target and Walmart, which have worked with environmental NGOs for years â€“ arenâ€™t backing them up, according to a Guardian survey.
KATHERINE “KITTY” STAPP – With battle lines sharpening over the stalled Keystone XL pipeline, a new analysis details the intense industry lobbying of both houses of the U.S. Congress since 2013 â€“ to the tune of 58.8 million dollars by five refinery companies alone.
DAVID SWANSON – If there is a group of Americans to whom Iraqis struggling with the health effects of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and all the various poisons of war can relate, it might be the mostly black and largely poor residents of Gibsland, in northern Louisiana.
PATRICK MAZZA – Climate politics is dead-ended. It may seem strange to make such a statement in the wake of the much-heralded U.S.-China climate deal announced November 12. So let me clarify.
JOHN LAFORGE – On December 29, the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor was shut down for good, cancelled 18 years before its license expired. The shutdown comes after thousands of protest actions; widespread uncontrolled leaks of radioactive tritium; the shocking collapse of a cooling tower; operator mismanagement; lying and cover-ups; and the state legislatureâ€™s 2010 passage of a â€œshut-down by 2012â€ law, a statute later voided by a federal court. Entergy Corp.â€™s surrender announcement mentioned only â€œeconomic concerns.â€
JOHN LAFORGE – Weakening radiation standards, a cap on accident liability, reactor propaganda vs improvements, old units running past expiration dates, revving the engines beyond design specs â€¦. Youâ€™d think we were itching for a meltdown. The Environmental Protection Agency has recommended increased radiation exposure limits following major releases. It would save the industry a bundle to permit large human exposures, rather than shut down rickety reactors.
JEFF SPROSS – â€œThe notion that weâ€™re going to have poor people suffering because this measure is pushing up their electric bill is just nonsense. Thereâ€™s literally nothing to support that.â€ Thatâ€™s Dean Baker, a prominent Washington, D.C. economist and the co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, reacting to the argument that new federal regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will drive up energy costs for lower-income Americans.
JEFF MERKLEY – As a new member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ve fought to invest in, rather than undermine, our environment. And I have some good news: in the compromise spending bill that passed Congress (in late January), we secured renewed support for our Northwest environment, and succeeded in pushing back on several policy riders that could have devastated our air, our water, and our efforts to combat climate change.
LISA F. FRIEDMAN – The Obama administration is quietly working on new greenhouse gas emissions targets to deliver to the United Nations, even as it struggles to craft regulations that will enable the United States to meet its current carbon-cutting goals.
WENDY KOCH – The vast majority of Americans in each of 40-plus states surveyed say global warming is real, serious and man-made, and the concerns tend to be slightly higher in coastal or drought-stricken areas, says an analysis out today.
ANGUS DUNCAN – What was the biggest energy story of 2013 in the United States? Most observers would point to the vast, unlooked-for quantities of natural gas and oil released by new â€œfrackingâ€ recovery techniques. National oil production has surged by 30 percent just since 2011. Five yearsago the natural gas industry was looking for sites to import liquefied natural gas (LNG); today itâ€™s flipping those sites around to export the stuff. But, the real energy story of 2013 may turn out to be the death of coal.
LAWRENCE WITTNER – Can the worldâ€™s biggest corporations act with impunity? When it comes to General Electric (GE) — the eighth-largest U.S. corporation, with $146.9 billion in sales and $13.6 billion in profits in 2012 — the answer appears to be â€œyes.â€
PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY – The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following â€œradiological incidents,â€ such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a â€œnew normalâ€ for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
JEFFREY RUBIN – Global temperatures are the hottest since the last ice age and the planet is only getting warmer. . . . A warming planet clearly holds profound consequences for us all, but one group that should by paying particular attention are the world’s energy producers.
MICHAEL BEHAR – The health risks of leaded gasoline are a thing of the past, right? Wrong. While jets and turboprops run on kerosene-based fuels, the majority of general aviation aircraft are piston-powered and consume aviation gasoline, or avgas. Populations close to â€œgeneral aviationâ€ airports (a term that covers nearly all types of flight activity except scheduled commercial passenger service) suffer the consequences of exposure to the lead in avgas.
DAVID ROBERTS – I know lots of websites (including Grist!) allow â€œguest bloggersâ€ to repost stuff. But I think of The Christian Science Monitor as something of an institution. Itâ€™s disappointing to find misleading dreck on its site. Do I have to squint at the small print before I can trust an article on CSM now? Is there no editing? You kids get off my lawn!
ADAM KLAUS – Since 2006, U.S. honey bee populations have been in precipitous decline, with some estimates suggesting losses as high as 30% per year.1 While that’s terrible, the problem is far greater than just the loss of a species. Without bees, a big piece of our food supply is in serious danger. Pollination by honey bees is key in cultivating the crops that produce a full one-third of our food.