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Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a "Build Back Better" Clean Energy event on July 14, 2020 at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Joe Biden / Facebook

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden announced a $2 trillion plan Tuesday to boost American investment in clean energy and infrastructure.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A customer walks into a Whole Foods in Longmont, Colorado on Dec. 15, 2016. RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post via Getty Images

A brand of bottled water manufactured and sold by grocery-store giant and Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods contains potentially harmful levels of arsenic, according to research conducted by Consumer Reports.

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The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the only marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

President Donald Trump sparked the ire of conservationists earlier this month when he opened the country's only marine national monument in the Atlantic to commercial fishing.

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission delivered a victory to supporters of renewables by rejecting an April petition from the New England Ratepayers Association calling for federal rather than local jurisdiction over solar net-metering policies. Gray Watson / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Jessica Corbett

Federal regulators on Thursday released a pair of decisions expected to impact the expansion of renewable power nationwide—one that was celebrated by environmentalists and clean energy advocates as a crucial win and another that critics warned "could lead to more pollution by propping up fossil fuel power plants."

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Members of the Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative hiked into the George Washington National Forest to document tree felling for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Ben Cunningham / YouTube

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which would have carried fracked natural gas through 600 miles of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, will never be completed.

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A small boy drinks from a public drinking fountain in the historic Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Robert Alexander / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

President Donald Trump's EPA on Thursday finalized a rule to roll back regulations of a chemical found in rocket fuel that can cause brain damage in infants.

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The Pile River flows into the northern end of Lake Iliamna. The lake and its tributaries are the headwaters of the Bristol Bay region, one of the richest salmon fisheries in the world. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers last week to say that it would not oppose or put a stop to a huge copper and gold mine near the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, as The Washington Post reported.

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Waste is found dumped at a marsh near the mouth of Neshaminy Creek to the Delaware river in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 6, 2019. Bastiaan Slabbers / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Melanie Benesh, Legislative Attorney

From the beginning, the Trump administration has aggressively slashed environmental regulations. A New York Times analysis identified 100 environmental protections that have been reversed or are in the process of getting rolled back. The administration's record on chemical safety has been especially hazardous for the health of Americans, especially children.

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The part of the Appalachian Trail that the Supreme Court ruled the Atlantic Coast Pipeline can tunnel under. Norm Shafer/ The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 Monday that the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) can pass underneath the Appalachian Trail.

The ruling removes one barrier to the pipeline, which has been delayed six years, but it still requires eight other permits, and environmental groups vowed to keep fighting.

"With the ACP still lacking 8 permits, this decision is just plugging just one hole on a sinking ship," director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Kelly Martin said in a statement. "Nothing in today's ruling changes the fact that the fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a dirty, dangerous threat to our health, climate and communities, and nothing about the ruling changes our intention to fight it."

The pipeline, a joint project of Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, would carry fracked natural gas 600 miles from West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina, as NPR reported.

At stake in Monday's decision is the part of its route that would cross the Appalachian Trail in Central Virginia where the trail overlaps with the George Washington National Forest.

The Forest Service granted the pipeline a permit for the crossing in 2018, but a coalition of environmental groups led by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) sued, arguing that the trail crossing was under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and tossed the Forest Service permit in December of that year.

But the companies appealed and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor Monday, arguing that the Forest Service controlled the land and had just granted the National Park Service a right of way to maintain the trail.

"If a rancher granted a neighbor an easement across his land for a horse trail, no one would think that the rancher had conveyed ownership over that land," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority, NPR reported.

Only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan disagreed.

"In her noteworthy dissent, Justice Sotomayor clearly gets what should be obvious: that the Appalachian Trail is land in the National Park system," Natural Resources Defense Council Climate & Clean Energy Program attorney Gillian Gianettti said in a statement. "And under federal law, a pipeline plainly cannot cross land in the National Park system."

Dominion celebrated the court's decision.

"Today's decision is an affirmation for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and communities across our region that are depending on it for jobs, economic growth and clean energy," the company said in a statement reported by Reuters. "We look forward to resolving the remaining project permits."

However, SELC said the remaining permits could be a major hurdle to the project. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Forest Service permit on three other grounds not covered by the Supreme Court decision, NPR reported. The project also lacks permits relating to its impacts on endangered species, air and water, SELC pointed out.

The organization also pointed out that the decision comes as both Virginia and North Carolina are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. Virginia passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act in April, which requires utilities to shut down all gas plants by 2045. And North Carolina's Clean Energy Plan requires the state to reduce emissions to 70 percent of 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. A pending case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will determine if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was correct in determining the ACP necessary when it granted it a permit in 2017.

"This is not a viable project," SELC program director DJ Gerken said. "It is still missing many required authorizations, including the Forest Service permit at issue in today's case, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will soon consider the mounting evidence that we never needed this pipeline to supply power. It's time for these developers to move on and reinvest the billions of dollars planned for this boondoggle into the renewable energy that Virginia and North Carolina customers want and deserve."

The Supreme Court decision could greenlight another contested Appalachian pipeline however, Reuters pointed out. The Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would run 300 miles from West Virginia to Southern Virginia, also crosses the Appalachian Trail in the Jefferson National Forest. It is almost finished, but construction at the trail crossing was halted to await the outcome of the ACP case.

Humpback whale splashing in the North West Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts. Tim Graham / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

In a move that environmentalists warned could further imperil hundreds of endangered species and a protected habitat for the sake of profit, President Donald Trump on Friday signed a proclamation rolling back an Obama-era order and opening nearly 5,000 square miles off the coast of New England to commercial fishing.

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Two Louisiana Bucket Brigade activists are facing felony "terrorizing" charges for leaving a box of plastic pellets collected from Texas waters near a coastal Formosa Plastics facility on the doorstep of a fossil fuel lobbyist in December 2019. MARTIN BERNETTI / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

At least 40 U.S. climate and environmental advocacy groups on Friday rallied behind two Louisiana Bucket Brigade activists who are facing felony "terrorizing" charges for leaving a box of plastic pellets collected from Texas waters near a coastal Formosa Plastics facility on the doorstep of a fossil fuel lobbyist in December 2019.

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President Donald Trump delivers a speech before signing an order rolling back climate protections against coal on March 28, 2017 in Washington, D.C. JIM WATSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Emily Holden

The Trump administration is diligently weakening US environment protections even amid a global pandemic, continuing its rollback as the November election approaches.

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Workers clean up a crude oil leak from a pipeline in Minnesota in 2002. JOEY MCLEISTER / Star Tribune via Getty Images

The Trump administration has finalized a rule making it harder for states and tribal communities to block pipelines and other infrastructure projects that threaten waterways.

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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a "Build Back Better" Clean Energy event on July 14, 2020 at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Joe Biden / Facebook

Presidential hopeful Joe Biden announced a $2 trillion plan Tuesday to boost American investment in clean energy and infrastructure.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A customer walks into a Whole Foods in Longmont, Colorado on Dec. 15, 2016. RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post via Getty Images

A brand of bottled water manufactured and sold by grocery-store giant and Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods contains potentially harmful levels of arsenic, according to research conducted by Consumer Reports.

Read More Show Less


The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the only marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

President Donald Trump sparked the ire of conservationists earlier this month when he opened the country's only marine national monument in the Atlantic to commercial fishing.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission delivered a victory to supporters of renewables by rejecting an April petition from the New England Ratepayers Association calling for federal rather than local jurisdiction over solar net-metering policies. Gray Watson / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Jessica Corbett

Federal regulators on Thursday released a pair of decisions expected to impact the expansion of renewable power nationwide—one that was celebrated by environmentalists and clean energy advocates as a crucial win and another that critics warned "could lead to more pollution by propping up fossil fuel power plants."

Read More Show Less

Trending

Members of the Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative hiked into the George Washington National Forest to document tree felling for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Ben Cunningham / YouTube

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which would have carried fracked natural gas through 600 miles of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, will never be completed.

Read More Show Less
A small boy drinks from a public drinking fountain in the historic Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Robert Alexander / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

President Donald Trump's EPA on Thursday finalized a rule to roll back regulations of a chemical found in rocket fuel that can cause brain damage in infants.

Read More Show Less
The Pile River flows into the northern end of Lake Iliamna. The lake and its tributaries are the headwaters of the Bristol Bay region, one of the richest salmon fisheries in the world. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers last week to say that it would not oppose or put a stop to a huge copper and gold mine near the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, as The Washington Post reported.