The partial government shutdown that began nearly a week ago is likely to drag into the New Year, CNN reported Friday. The House and Senate both met only briefly on Thursday and made no progress towards resolving the impasse between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump over $5 billion in spending for his proposed border wall.
"At this point, it looks like we could be in for a very long-term shutdown," North Carolina Republican Representative Mark Meadows told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
If so, that would be bad news for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is set to run out of funds on Friday, according to an email from acting administrator Andrew Wheeler obtained by The Hill.
"In the event an appropriation is not passed by midnight Friday, December 28th, EPA will initiate orderly shutdown procedures," Wheeler wrote.
The EPA had carryover funds to keep up normal operations when the shutdown began Dec. 21, but those funds will run out Friday. What that means is that more than 700 workers considered "essential' will have to work without pay, while more than 13,000 other employees will be furloughed, The Huffington Post explained. Wheeler said furloughed employees would be instructed to change their voice mails, enable out-of-office emails and complete their time cards. All travel for furloughed employees would be canceled.
The shutdown could also impact EPA activities that normally protect the nation's environment and public health. The Huffington Post listed some activities the shutdown could impact, according to the agency's contingency plan.
- The cleanup of Superfund sites
- Inspections of drinking water systems
- Inspections of hazardous waste management sites and chemical facilities
- Reviews of pesticides
In the case of Superfund sites, the EPA will evaluate them to see which pose the greatest public health risks if cleanup efforts are delayed.
Meanwhile, the Interior Department has been in shutdown mode for a week, and that has already taken a toll on national parks, The Hill reported. Most parks have remained open but unstaffed, and that has led to a build up of trash and a spike in illegal activities.
At Joshua Tree National Park, littering, illegal fires and illegal parking are all on the rise, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Volunteer Rand Abbott said he was trying to talk people out of this behavior, but the vast majority were hostile to his advice.
"Yesterday, I had my life threatened two times," he told The Los Angeles Times. "It's crazy in there right now."
In Texas' Big Bend National Park, staff had to close certain areas, largely because no maintenance staff is on hand to empty overflowing trash cans, National Parks Traveler reported.
"No bears have seen yet near here, but this is happening in numerous places around the park, and trash WILL attract bears," Big Bend Superintendent Bob Krumenaker wrote in an email reported by National Parks Traveler. "And that creates a safety problem for people and puts the bears at risk as they quickly become habituated to human food."
Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.
During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
By Matthew Savoca
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Andrea Germanos
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.