Green Groups Sue EPA to Reverse Pruitt’s Last Act
Environmental groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday in an attempt to block Scott Pruitt's last act as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an act they say his replacement Andrew Wheeler declined to undo despite requests.
On July 6, the EPA wrote two memos saying the makers of super-polluting "glider trucks," new truck bodies using old engines, could ignore an Obama-era rule limiting the number of these vehicles to 300 per manufacturer per year.
"People will die because of Pruitt's parting gift of thousands more super-dirty trucks on our roads spewing toxic pollution into the air we must breathe," senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute Vera Pardee said in a press release. "If Wheeler hopes to distance himself from Pruitt's corrupt brand of loyalty to polluters, he's off to a horrific start."
They are asking the federal court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to hand down an emergency order mandating that the EPA enforce the "glider truck" rule, arguing that the agency cannot simply decide to stop enforcing a rule, The Hill reported.
"Although EPA labeled its action a 'decision not to enforce' the Act and its implementing regulations, this nationwide action is nothing like the sort of case-by-case enforcement decisions for which agencies are granted considerable discretion," the green groups wrote in their lawsuit, according to The Hill.
The groups are also concerned about the amounts of deadly air pollution produced by the trucks.
One EPA study found that glider trucks emit about 43 times the nitrogen oxide and 55 times the particulate matter of trucks with new engines using up-to-date pollution controls, according to The Hill.
The EPA also estimated that unlimited glider trucks on the road could cause up to 1600 early deaths due to particulate matter, the Center for Biological Diversity wrote in a press release.
For the groups behind the suit, the fact that they have to bring it at all is proof that Wheeler will not act much differently from Pruitt when it comes to protecting human health and the environment, despite his slightly-more green rhetoric.
"Wheeler, like Pruitt, is trying to pull the wool over the American people's eyes, this time passing off a wolf in sheep's clothing—the outside of these trucks may look new, but inside, they're run by old dirty engines. The EPA's decision to halt the enforcement of this rule endangers the health and safety of American families and our climate," Sierra Club chief climate counsel Joanne Spalding said in a statement reported by The Hill.
EPA Shakeup: Wheeler Gives First Address as Top Pruitt Aides Step Down https://t.co/HGEU9NNdif @DeSmogBlog @BusinessGreen— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1531432820.0
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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