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Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) speaks about the People's Budget on the House floor in 2016. youtube.com

7 Key Environmental Amendments to Watch

As debate continues on the spending bill, dozens of environmental amendments could receive votes. Here are some to watch:

Harvey Response

Many amendments relate to the role of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the funding of its crucial functions. In light of the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, some of these amendments highlight the importance role of the EPA in disaster zones—and the dangers of starving it of the funding it needs to do this work.

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Americans Red and Blue Unite Against Trump's Plan to Drill the Atlantic

By Jeff Turrentine

President Trump, to put it mildly, hasn't worked too hard to bring Democrats and Republicans together on many issues. By almost any account, the partisan divide in this country today is wider than it's been in living memory, certainly wider than it was before he took office.

But on one issue, at least, the president seems to have bridged that divide and fostered some much-needed unity. When it comes to endorsing Trump's plan to open up the Atlantic coast to oil and gas drilling, citizens in both red and blue states—as well as their elected officials—are speaking with one voice.

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Total's Application to Drill Near Amazon Reef Rejected

Brazil's environmental agency (Ibama) rejected Tuesday the application for a license to drill in the mouth of the Amazon Basin by the French company Total (operating in a joint venture with BP). This is an important step towards defending the Amazon Reef; a unique and largely unexplored ecosystem—Total's closest block is only 8km away from the reef.

In a statement published Tuesday, Ibama's president, Suely Araujo, said that Total had not provided adequate information about the environmental impact of the project, making it impossible to grant the license. The company admits in their own Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that there is a 30 percent probability of oil reaching the reef in case of a spill.

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Energy

Trump Green Lights Arctic Drilling Project in Polar Bear Habitat

The Trump administration released an environmental review Thursday of Hilcorp Alaska's Arctic offshore drilling development. Hilcorp plans to build a 9-acre artificial island and 5.6-mile pipeline in the Beaufort Sea for its offshore drilling project. The Trump administration's draft environmental impact statement proposes to greenlight the dangerous drilling plan, which would be a first for federal waters in the Arctic.

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Energy
Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Activists Interrupt Operations at Arctic Oil Drilling Site

Peaceful activists, including one American, from a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, have stalled Statoil's oil operations in the Barents Sea off the Norwegian coast. The activists entered the exclusion zone of Statoil's oil rig, Songa Enabler in the Barents Sea with kayaks and inflatable boats, while swimmers protested in the water with banners.

The activists plan to sustain the peaceful protest to stall Statoil's oil drilling as long as possible to send a message that the Norwegian government is failing its commitments to Norway's constitution and the Paris agreement. They are also displaying a constructed giant globe in front of the rig with written statements to the government.

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Animals
U.S. Geological Survey

Loss of Arctic Sea Ice Causes Earliest Pacific Walrus Haul Out Ever

Hundreds of Pacific walruses have hauled out of Arctic waters near Alaska's Point Lay due to declining sea ice levels, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday. It's the earliest haul out the agency has ever seen, and scientists fear a repeat of stampedes that have killed hundreds of walruses in recent years.

Loss of sea ice from climate change is a major reason why the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the federal government to protect Pacific walruses under the Endangered Species Act. A final listing decision from Fish and Wildlife is expected within the next month.

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For Sale: America's Public Lands

By Mary Sweeters and Olivia Smith

For almost two centuries, the Interior Department has been charged with managing public lands and waters in the best interests of the American people. Emphasis on people. Somehow, President Trump's Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke missed the memo—repeatedly.

Instead of looking out for American taxpayers, Zinke is advocating for the best interests of a group he finds more profitable (and at this point, more friendly towards him): oil, gas and coal companies.

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Santa Barbara Becomes First California City to Pass Resolution Against Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

The Santa Barbara City Council approved a resolution Tuesday opposing new drilling off the California coast and fracking in existing offshore oil and gas wells. The resolution is the first in a new statewide campaign to rally local governments against proposals to expand offshore fossil fuel extraction in federal waters.

The vote—which makes Santa Barbara the first California city to oppose both fracking and new offshore drilling—follows President Trump's April 28 executive order urging federal agencies to expand oil and gas leasing in federal waters. The order could expose the Pacific Ocean to new oil leasing for the first time in more than 30 years.

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Climate

Big Oil Forecast: Entering the Age of Stranded Assets

By Andy Rowell

For years, environmentalists have warned that due to climate change, there will be billions of barrels of oil that we will never be able to burn. These reserves will become what has increasingly been called "stranded assets."

To give you one example: In a new report, Friends of the Earth argued that "The coal, oil and gas in reserves already in production and development globally is more than we can afford to burn. There is no room for any new coal, oil or gas exploration and production.

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