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Climate

Climate Denier Lamar Smith: Geoengineering Can Curb Impacts of Climate Change

By Steve Horn

Geoengineering, hailed in some circles as a potential techno-fix to the climate change crisis, has taken a step closer to going mainstream.

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a rare joint subcommittee hearing on Nov. 8, only the second ever congressional hearing of its kind on the topic (the first was held in 2009). The committee invited expert witnesses to discuss the status of geoengineering research and development. Geoengineering is a broad term encompassing sophisticated scientific techniques meant to reverse the impacts of climate change or pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

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Cows on a dairy farm. U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Meat and Dairy Greenhouse Emissions 'Could Lead Us to a Point of No Return'

Three of the world's largest meat producers emitted more greenhouse gases in 2016 than France, putting them on par with oil companies such as ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, a recent study found.

GRAIN, a non-profit organization, collaborated with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Heinrich Böll Foundation to estimate the greenhouse emissions of meat and dairy corporations, a figure that few companies calculate or publish.

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Trump Watch
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt visited the USS Lead Superfund in East Chicago, Indiana. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency / YouTube

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Scott Pruitt's Dysfunctional EPA

By Rachel Leven

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt doesn't hide his contempt for how the agency has been run, but does profess to care about one of its key programs: Superfund, which oversees the cleanup of the nation's worst toxic-waste sites. In April, he toured a site in East Chicago, Indiana, contaminated with lead and arsenic, and told residents, "We are going to get this right."

The following month, Pruitt—Oklahoma's attorney general before he joined the EPA—tapped one of his former donors, banker Albert "Kell" Kelly, to find ways to accelerate and improve Superfund cleanups. Kelly started by consulting career staff members —often-knowledgeable officials who work at the agency regardless of who holds the White House. But then Kelly closed off the process, conferring with Pruitt to produce a final plan that altered or excluded many of the staffers' suggestions. Gone, for example, was the idea that EPA officials be identified early on to lead discussions with communities on how contaminated land should be used after cleanup.

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Climate
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
[Left to Right] Thanu Yakupitiyage, 350.org; Katia Aviles-Vasquez, Organización Boricua & It Takes Roots; Varshini Prakash, SustainUS & Sunrise Movement; Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network & It Takes Roots; Kiran Ooman, youth plaintiff with Our Children's Trust; Dyanna Jaye, Sunrise Movement & ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability; Ellen Anderson, Energy Transition Lab & Climate Generation

U.S. People’s Delegation Takes on Trump Administration at COP23

Community and grassroots leaders from the U.S. on Tuesday announced their platform at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23). The "U.S. People's Delegation" is attending to counter the Trump administration's fossil fuel agenda and to hold U.S. states, cities, businesses and the public accountable to climate action commitments.

The platform includes youth, Indigenous peoples, frontline communities, advocates and policymakers who have come to Bonn, Germany with organizations from across the U.S. They have come together to show what climate leadership should look like.

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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Paradise Papers Reveal Toxic Mix of Tax Havens, Oil and Trump’s Top Aides

By Andy Rowell

On Sunday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), working with dozens of media partners around the world, published the results of a huge global investigation into the use of tax havens.

The results of the investigation, based on the leak of 13.4 million files from two offshore service providers and 19 tax havens' company registries, are shocking and lead to people who are close to Trump.

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Trump Watch
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

'Disappointing, Backwards Step': Critics Blast U.S. Exit From Global Oil, Gas Anti-Corruption Effort

The Trump administration has withdrawn from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international anti-corruption initiative that requires member nations to report their oil, gas and mineral revenues, and for such extractive companies to report payments made to obtain these publicly owned natural resources.

The EITI Standard is implemented in about 50 countries around the world and provides the public information about how much government leaders receive in taxes, royalties and lease payments from such natural resource companies, as Bloomberg explained. For instance, this information would help ensure that revenue goes towards building or fixing roads and schools, rather than hiding away in foreign bank accounts.

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Exxon Mobil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

Exxon Refinery Catches Fire Day After Government Settles Over Pollution From Other Gulf Plants

By Julie Dermansky

Early morning skies Wednesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were alight from a fire that started around 2:30 a.m. at an ExxonMobil refinery. The blaze, though contained before the sun came up, is a reminder to the surrounding community of yet another danger of living next to refineries and chemical plants.

Exxon's refinery is located along the stretch of Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans known as "Cancer Alley" due to the high number of chemical plants and refineries—and illnesses possibly connected to emissions—along the river's banks.

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Climate
The 2,400-acre ExxonMobil petrochemical complex in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Kristen Lombardi / Center for Public Integrity

Exxon Settles Air Pollution Lawsuit, Will Pay $2.5 Million in Fines, $300 Million for Technology Upgrades

Exxon will pay millions to upgrade eight Gulf-area plants in a major settlement announced Tuesday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The oil giant's agreement to pay $300 million to outfit oil and gas plants in Texas and Louisiana with pollution-control technology follows allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act by releasing harmful pollutants at those plants. Exxon will also pay $2.5 million in fines.

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