EPA Delays 'Agenda to Sideline Science' After Receiving Nearly 600,000 Comments
The proposal would have limited the kinds of studies the EPA could use to make regulations to only studies that relied on data that was publicly available and therefore reproducible. But scientists and environmentalists warned that would exclude many important public health studies that relied on confidential patient medical records, ABC News reported.
The postponement was announced with the release of President Donald Trump's regulatory agenda on Wednesday, which filed the proposal with its "long term actions" agenda. The EPA will finalize the rule around January 2020, and many other rules are ahead of it in line, The Hill reported.
"This is not a delay. The agency is continuing its internal rulemaking development process for this action," EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said, according to The Hill.
"The current political leadership still wants to move forward with Pruitt's agenda to sideline science, just at a slower pace," Kothari said. "It's clear the agency's political leadership still wants to ignore the best available science when it comes to protecting public health and the environment."
The rest of the scheduled agenda, as reported by The Hill, supports Kothari's point. Other EPA regulations to be repealed before the science proposal is finalized include:
- The Clean Power Plan: The final rule on repealing former President Barack Obama's attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants is scheduled for March of 2019.
- The Clean Water Rule: The final repeal of another Obama era regulation to extend water protections to ponds and streams is also due in March.
- Fuel Efficiency Standards: The plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards in 2020 will also be finalized in March.
- Methane Pollution Rules: The EPA hopes to finalize its repeal of regulations limiting methane pollution from oil and natural gas drilling.
The administration-wide agenda also includes proposals on the docket from the Department of the Interior that are relevant to the environment:
- Offshore Oil Drilling: The administration plans to roll back an offshore drilling safety rule in December.
- Endangered Species: Three rules changing how the Fish and Wildlife Service enforces the Endangered Species Act will be finalized in November.
EPA just cut its science panel that reviews deadly air pollutants, building upon this administration's efforts to c… https://t.co/MbsbWRCGIj— Friends of the Earth (@Friends of the Earth)1539629103.0
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.