What Climate Deniers Want Next After Winning Paris Pullout
President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement earlier this month was a clear win for conservative groups and individuals that support the weakening of environmental regulations.
So what do these politically powerful forces have next on the agenda?
The first target could be the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) endangerment finding, David Stevenson, a former EPA transition team member and policy director at the libertarian think tank Caesar Rodney Institute told New Republic.
This Obama-era finding that greenhouse gas emissions endangers public health and welfare might seem wholly unremarkable. However, the endangerment finding not only cemented a consensus within the scientific community, it also legally obligates the EPA to regulate sources of that pollutant under the Clean Air Act—including power plants, cars, trucks and other sources that combust coal, oil and natural gas. By unraveling the endangerment finding, the U.S. is legally washing its hands of climate change litigation brought by environmental groups.
"As long as that's sitting there, the potential for legal challenges just goes on and on and on, and that's not productive for any of us," Stevenson explained.
Undoing the 2009 finding was a major topic of discussion at a March conference hosted by the Heartland Institute, the nation's leading climate skeptic think tank. Reuters reported that at least three conservative groups has petitioned the EPA to undo the finding. Myron Ebell, who led Trump's EPA transition team, similarly considers it a major priority.
As it happens, current EPA administrator and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a lawsuit in 2010 to overturn the endangerment finding, which he and his fellow litigants characterized as "arbitrary and capricious." And let's not forget that Pruitt, who urged Trump to exit from the Paris accord, does not even believe that carbon dioxide is a "primary contributor" to climate change.
However, there could be more sinister moves at play. For one, "undoing the endangerment finding would also empower the federal government to instantly repeal all existing regulations that reduce global warming," New Republic's Emily Atkin noted, such as the Clean Power Plan and Obama-era fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks—two of the Heartland Institute's top five environmental policy priorities.
Other potential post-Paris moves include gutting the scope and powers of the EPA. Stevenson lauded Trump's proposed EPA budget, which cuts the agency's funds by 31 percent.
"There are about 50 small EPA programs that look like they're ineffective," he said. "They're going to be cut."
Lastly, the New Republic piece highlighted one of the most daunting post-Paris goals of all: the "intellectual validation" of climate denial.
"Now that denial is the official policy of the U.S. government, they are getting the legitimacy they desire, whether they deserve it or not," Atkin wrote. "For an ideology based in falsehoods, that is perhaps the greatest victory they could possibly achieve under Trump."
Monsanto, the maker of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, filed a motion June 16 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California to reconsider the chemical's addition to California's Proposition 65 list of agents known to cause cancer.
The agrochemical giant made this move based on a June 14 Reuters investigation of Dr. Aaron Blair, a lead researcher on the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) committee, that classified glyphosate as a "2A probable human carcinogen" in March 2015.
By Avery Friedman
Algae is often considered a nuisance, but for Sweden, the rapidly growing sea plant is now an asset.
As the Scandinavian country works to cut all of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, it's using algae to sop up the carbon emissions from cement.
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."