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Animals
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Congress: Biggest Attack on Marine Mammals in Decades

By Michael Jasny

On Thursday, the House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill, called the "SECURE American Energy Act" (H.R. 4239), that can only be described as an oil industry wish-list. The bill's purpose is to mow down environmental concerns that stand in the way of the complete exploitation of fossil fuels in this country. For the oceans, this would mean an end to national monument designation and to some of those pesky safety regulations that were put in place after the Deepwater spill, among other things. And although it hasn't received much attention—yet—one late addition to the bill targets marine mammals in a very big way.

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WHO Releases New Guidelines to Curb Antibiotic Overuse, Resistance

By David Wallinga, MD

As antibiotic resistance spreads worldwide, the calls get more urgent to stop squandering our most precious medicines, in both human medicine and in livestock. Just released Tuesday are new recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO)—the leading international public health authority—on how the medically important antibiotics given to food animals can be used better. They're especially timely, given that next week is Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Resistance is largely a numbers game: The more we use antibiotics, the faster resistance spreads. Already, at least two million Americans suffer drug-resistant infections every year, and more than 23,000 die as a result. And the numbers will keep rising without urgent action. Curbing antibiotic overuse is critical.

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Climate
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Key Trends to Watch at COP23

By Jake Schmidt

It has been almost two years since world leaders agreed to the historic Paris agreement. Since then a lot has changed (both positive and negative). As leaders meet in Bonn, Germany for the next round of international climate negotiations there will be several key issues on the table. This meeting will set the tone for how leaders will come together in the era of President Trump and show that they are prepared to carry forward climate action.

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Five years after Sandy, we are ignoring the lessons we paid so much to learn. U.S. Navy / Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ryan J. Courtade

After Sandy, We’re Ignoring the Lessons We Already Learned

By Rob Moore

Five years after Hurricane Sandy, our nation's leadership is willfully ignoring all the lessons we paid dearly to learn. Instead the nation is now charting a very dangerous course given the powerful storms we will face in the future.

Marking the fifth anniversary of one of the most destructive storms to ever strike the U.S., we see a very different response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate than we saw to Hurricane Sandy five years ago.

After Sandy, there was a recognition that we needed to take action to decrease our vulnerability to the extreme weather events that climate change makes more likely and there was a renewed emphasis to combat the root causes of climate change.

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Energy
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What's Resilience? DOE Should Say Before Spending Your Money

By Jennifer Chen

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently proposed that American consumers further subsidize certain power plants (essentially, coal and nuclear power plants) by paying them billions of dollars to stockpile 90 days worth of fuel onsite. This proposal hinges on the idea that onsite fuel will somehow provide the electric grid with "resilience." But the DOE never explained what "resilience" means, let alone how making coal piles bigger would help.

The proposed rule is now before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the electric grid authority, which is taking public comment. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recommended that FERC reject the DOE proposal and outlined a framework for what developing a concept for resilience should include, at minimum. Comparing DOE's proposal to this framework exposes the proposal for what it really is—an irrational fixation on bailing out uneconomic, polluting power plants without regard for impacts on consumers.

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Mladen Kostic / iStock

Toxic Toys? After Nine Years, a Ban on Harmful Chemicals Becomes Official

Phthalates are a particularly harmful type of chemical, used, among a range of other ways, to soften plastic in children's toys and products like pacifiers and teething rings. In response to mounting concern about the serious health impacts of phthalates—most notably, interference with hormone production and reproductive development in young children—Congress voted overwhelmingly in 2008 to outlaw the use of a few phthalates in these products and ordered the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to assess the use of other types of the chemical in these products. After much delay, the CPSC voted 3–2 Wednesday to ban five additional types of phthalates in kids' toys and childcare products.

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Pruitt Wants to Make the EPA Less Accountable to the Public

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) breaks the law by missing deadlines, allowing polluters to violate regulations that protect our health and environment, one way the public holds it accountable is by taking the agency to court. Scott Pruitt and his corporate polluter allies see this as a problem, so Monday, the administrator moved to curtail the agency's practice of settling lawsuits with outside groups, making it easier to skirt the law.

"Pruitt's doing nothing more than posturing about a nonexistent problem and political fiction," John Walke, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate and Clean Air program said in reaction. "His targeting of legal settlements, especially where EPA has no defense to breaking the law, will just allow violations to persist, along with harms to Americans."

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Climate
The European Parliament's debating chamber. CC BY-SA 3.0

EU to Livestream Public Hearing on Monsanto Papers

By Jennifer Sass

Without much fanfare on this side of the Atlantic, the European Union is actively and effectively pushing back on one of the biggest bullies in the corporate sandbox, Monsanto.

This week in Brussels the European Parliament's Environment and Agriculture committees will hold a public hearing on The Monsanto Papers, documents released through lawsuits in the U.S. brought against Monsanto by over 250 people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide is responsible for their cancers.

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Animals
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UK Takes Significant Step Towards Ivory Ban

By Elly Pepper

The last few years have seen a number of countries close their ivory markets as a way to help curb the current poaching crisis, which is driving elephants towards extinction. Indeed, the U.S. placed a near-total ban on its ivory market between 2014 and 2016 and China will close its market—the biggest in the world—by the end of this year.

Friday, the United Kingdom—one of the world's largest domestic ivory markets—joined these countries in combating the illegal ivory trade by releasing an impressive proposed ivory ban and requesting public comments.

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