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David Bernhardt arrives before testifying during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

The Senate voted to confirm former oil-and-gas lobbyist David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Interior Thursday, despite calls from Democrats and government watchdogs to investigate his past conduct, The New York Times reported.

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Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions hit a record high in 2018, the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) found. Emissions rose 1.7 percent to reach a historic 33.1 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide. It was the highest rate of emissions growth since 2013 and 70 percent higher than the average increase since 2010.

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Acting Secretary David Bernhardt visited Watson Hopper Inc., a manufacturer of rigs and oil drilling equipment in Hobbs, New Mexico on Feb. 6, 2019. Tami A. Heilemann / DOI

Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.

"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.

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A drilling rig in a Wyoming natural gas field. William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal leases in Wyoming Tuesday, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "did not sufficiently consider climate change" when auctioning off the land, The Washington Post reported.

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A mother North Atlantic right whale with her calf; conservationists are concerned the endangered species could be further harmed by seismic testing off the Atlantic. NOAA

A congressman found a creative way to make himself heard about the impact of seismic air gun testing on North Atlantic right whales during a committee meeting Thursday.

Assistant Administrator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Chris Oliver was testifying before a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing that the practice would not impact the animals when South Carolina Democratic Representative Joe Cunningham asked permission to blow an air horn, The Washington Post reported.

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A new study reveals the health risks posed by the making, use and disposal of plastics. Jeffrey Phelps / Getty Images

With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the world's oceans every year, there is growing concern about the proliferation of plastics in the environment. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the full impact of plastic pollution on human health.

But a first-of-its-kind study released Tuesday sets out to change that. The study, Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, is especially groundbreaking because it looks at the health impacts of every stage in the life cycle of plastics, from the extraction of the fossil fuels that make them to their permanence in the environment. While previous studies have focused on particular products, manufacturing processes or moments in the creation and use of plastics, this study shows that plastics pose serious health risks at every stage in their production, use and disposal.

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Kanggava Bay on Rennell Island, where a grounded ship is leaking oil, according to some reports. Peter Hendrie / Getty Images

A ship that ran aground in the Solomon islands Feb. 4 is now menacing a coral reef with an oil spill, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

The 740 foot MV Solomon Trader was stranded on a reef near Rennell Island, home to the largest raised coral atoll in the world and a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site, AFP reported. The bulk carrier has not been salvaged in the two weeks since it was stranded because of Cyclone Oma, Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) director Loti Yates told Radio New Zealand early Monday morning.

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A train derailment and oil spill in Manitoba, Canada Saturday, has summoned the ghost of a 2013 disaster (pictured) in Quebec that killed 47. STEEVE DUGUAY / AFP / Getty Images

Almost 40 train cars carrying crude oil derailed near a small town in the Canadian province of Manitoba Saturday, leaking oil into the surrounding area, CBC News reported.

The derailment of around 37 cars and subsequent oil spill took place on the property of rancher Jayme Corr, who lives around 10 kilometers (approximately 6.2 miles) south of the town of St. Lazare, in the rural municipality of Ellice-Archie.

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Part of the Keystone pipeline in Nebraska. shannonpatrick17 / CC BY 2.0

Parts of two pipelines owned by controversial Canadian pipeline companies remained shut down Thursday following the discovery of a leak near St. Louis, Missouri on Wednesday, CBC News reported.

Both TransCanada's Keystone pipeline and Enbridge's Platte pipeline run parallel to each other through the area. The Keystone pipeline, which carries 590,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta, has faced opposition from environmental activists in the area because it transports from Alberta's tar sands.

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The ship MV Marathassa was acquitted of all charges Thursday relating to an oil spill that released 2,700 liters (approximately 713.3 gallons) of fuel into Vancouver, B.C.'s English Bay and coated four migratory birds with oil.

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Donald Trump, Mike Pence and acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in Washington, DC on Jan. 21. MANDEL NGAN / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump officially nominated David Bernhardt—a former energy lobbyist environmental groups have described as a "walking conflict of interest"—to officially take over as interior secretary after Ryan Zinke stepped down in December 2018 following various scandals.

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