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Alaska Sen. Murkowski Introduces Bill to Drill Arctic Wildlife Refuge

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced legislation Wednesday night that would open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas development for the first time.

The bill could advance with only 51 votes in the Senate instead of the usual 60 as it complies under Congress' budget resolution instructions for 2018.

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Environmental activists in kayaks protest the arrival of the Polar Pioneer, an oil drilling rig owned by Shell Oil, in Seattle. Backbone Campaign / Flickr

Moyers and McKibben: What to Do When Time Is Running Out for the Planet

By Bill Moyers

I wasn't one of the 50,766 participants who finished the New York City Marathon last weekend. Instead, I spent the average marathon finish time of 4:39:07 to read a book—obviously a small book. In the interest of disclosure, I didn't even start the race, but that's another and even shorter story than Radio Free Vermont, the book from which I did occasionally look up and out the window to check on the stream of marathoners passing our apartment, their faces worn and haggard.

A shame, I thought, that I couldn't go outside and hand each one a copy of the book that had kept me smiling throughout the day while also restoring my soul; I was sure the resilience would quickly have returned to weary feet and sore muscles now draped in aluminum foil for healing's sake. I admire those athletes, but wouldn't have traded their run for my read, because Radio Free Vermont is funny, very funny, all the more so considering the author is one of the more serious men on the planet—the planet he has spent his adult life trying to save.

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Trump Watch
U.S. Department of the Interior building. Kmf164 / CC-BY-SA-2.5

Department of the Interior, or Ministry of Doublespeak?

Defenders of Wildlife recently obtained a copy of Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's "Top 10 Priorities" for his department (text version). These priorities are reflected in the department's recently leaked draft 2018–2022 Strategic Plan, but the priorities themselves are noteworthy for their strikingly euphemistic tone.

They are written to evoke a responsive, progressive Interior Department serving the country by protecting our natural heritage and ensuring sensible use of our natural resources. And there's the problem. All ten priorities are entirely disconnected from Interior's actions to date. Following is our take on the doublespeak nature of the secretary's Top 10 Priorities.

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Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain. Wikimedia Commons

GOP-Controlled Senate Paves Way for Oil Drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Senate Republicans' narrow passage of the 2018 budget plan on Thursday opened the door for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).

But Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups criticized the GOP for sneaking the "backdoor drilling provision" through the budget process. Past proposals to drill in the refuge have consistently failed.

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Energy
vimeo.com

Video Shows Oil Company's Plans to Drill Arctic From Artificial Island

The Liberty Project has posted a video about its proposal to build the nation's first oil production platform in federal waters in the Arctic.

The video was quietly uploaded two months ago and shows Hilcorp Alaska's plan to build an artificial gravel island and undersea pipeline for its offshore drilling project in the Beaufort Sea. Frankly speaking, the five-minute clip—with its all-American voiceover and electric guitar riffs—is something you'd expect from a pickup truck commercial.

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France’s Largest Bank Cuts Ties With Dirty Energy Companies

BNP Paribas announced Wednesday that it would no longer do business with shale and tar sands companies, as part of a larger set of climate commitments.

In a statement, France's largest bank said it would also stop financing shale and tar sands projects and oil and gas production or exploration projects in the Arctic. The global bank has previously committed to spending billions of euros on renewable energy financing and energy efficiency, and has ceased support for coal mines and coal-fired power plants.

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United States Geological Survey

Trump Administration Signs 'Death Sentence' For Pacific Walrus

The Trump administration announced Wednesday it would decline to list the Pacific walrus on the endangered species list, reversing an Obama-era finding that the walruses should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended in 2011 that the walrus be considered for endangered species status in the near future due to increased habitat loss from disappearing Arctic sea ice. While its Wednesday announcement acknowledged the species faced "stressors" due to habitat loss, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it could not determine if the walrus will become endangered "in the foreseeable future"—a date the agency defines as 2060.

"This disgraceful decision is a death sentence for the walrus," Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "Walruses face extinction from climate change, and denying them critical protections will push them closer to the edge."

For a deeper dive:

AP, The Guardian, CBS, USA Today, Washington Examiner

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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Arctic Mission vessel ventures into a "new, unexplored and vulnerable ocean region on the planet, the Central Arctic Ocean."

Plastic Debris Found on One of World's Most Inaccessible Sites

It's becoming clear that plastic pollution is everywhere, even at the northernmost tip of the planet.

Scientists have recently found chunks of polystyrene on ice floes in the Central Arctic Ocean, about 1,000 miles from the north pole—an area that could not be accessed before due to sea ice, the Guardian reports.

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Texas National Guard soldiers respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Ssg. Tim Pruitt

Intensity of Harvey's Devastation Linked to Warming

By Alex Kirby

Tropical storm Harvey is by any standard off the scale. Some parts of Texas have received in just over a week the rainfall they would normally expect in an entire year, and the storm is described as generating as much rain as would normally be seen only once in more than 1,000 years.

Exceptional as it is, Harvey is not a direct consequence of climate change, in the judgment of one leading climate scientist, professor Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chair of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany.

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