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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bill Ritter Jr.
Joe Biden is preparing to deal with climate change in a way no U.S. president has done before – by mobilizing his entire administration to take on the challenge from every angle in a strategic, integrated way.
Dealing With All Those Climate Policy Rollbacks<p>From its first days, the Trump administration began trying to nullify or weaken U.S. environmental regulations. It had <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks-list.html" target="_blank">rolled back 84 environmental rules</a> by November 2020, including <a href="https://rhg.com/research/the-rollback-of-us-climate-policy/" target="_blank">major climate policies</a>, and more rollbacks were being pursued, according to a New York Times analysis of research from Harvard and Columbia law schools.</p><p>Many of these rules had been designed to reduce climate-warming pollution from power plants, cars and trucks. Several <a href="https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/2017/09/bam-methane-waste-prevention-rule/" target="_blank">reduced emissions of methane</a>, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas production. The Trump administration <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mining-resolution-trump/trump-moves-to-loosen-mining-regulations-approve-projects-as-he-exits-idUSKBN29D1AD?ct=t(RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN)" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">also moved</a> to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2020/oct/26/revealed-trump-public-lands-oil-drilling" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">open more land</a> to more drilling, mining and <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/04/11/712121425/trump-signs-executive-orders-in-push-to-make-it-easier-to-build-oil-and-gas-pipe" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pipelines</a>.</p><p>Some rollbacks have been challenged in court and the rules then reinstated. Others are still being litigated. Many will require going through government rule-making processes that take years to reverse.</p>
Pressuring Other Countries to Take Action<p>Biden can quickly bring the U.S. back into the international Paris climate agreement, through which countries worldwide agreed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming. But <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-biden-and-kerry-could-rebuild-americas-global-climate-leadership-150120" target="_blank">reestablishing the nation's leadership</a> role with the international climate community is a much longer haul.</p><p>Former Secretary of State John Kerry will lead this effort as special envoy for climate change, a new Cabinet-level position with a seat on the National Security Council. Other parts of the government can also pressure countries to take action. International development funding can encourage climate-friendly actions, and trade agreements and tariffs can establish rules of conduct.</p><h3>Cleaning Up the Power Sector</h3><p>The Biden-Harris <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">climate plan</a> aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector to net zero by 2035.</p><p>While <a href="https://sepapower.org/utility-transformation-challenge/utility-carbon-reduction-tracker/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">62 major utilities</a> in the U.S. have set their own emission reduction goals, most leaders in that sector would argue that requiring net zero emissions by 2035 is too much too fast.</p><p>One problem is that states are often more involved in regulating the power sector than the federal government. And, when federal regulations are passed, they are <a href="https://policyintegrity.org/trump-court-roundup" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">often challenged in court</a>, meaning they can take years to implement.</p><p>Reducing greenhouse gases also requires modernizing the electricity transmission grid. The federal government can streamline the permitting process to allow more clean energy, like wind and solar power, onto the grid. Without that intervention, it could take a decade or more to permit a single transmission line.</p><h3>The Falling Costs of Renewable Energy</h3><p>A comparison of the average levelized cost of utility-scale power generation, without subsidies, shows how new solar and onshore wind became less expensive than coal generation. Costs are in U.S. dollars per megawatt-hour.</p>
What to Do About Vehicles, Buildings and Ag<p>The power sector may be the easiest sector to "decarbonize." The transportation sector is another story.</p><p>Transportation is now the nation's <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/10/everything-you-need-know-about-fastest-growing-source-global-emissions-transport" target="_blank">leading emitter of carbon dioxide</a>. Decarbonizing it will require a transition away from the internal combustion engine in a relatively short amount of time.</p><p>Again, this is a challenge that requires many parts and levels of government working toward the same goal. It will require expanding carbon-free transportation, including more electric vehicles, charging stations, better battery technology and clean energy. That involves regulations and funding for research and development from multiple departments, as well as trade agreements, tax incentives for electric vehicles and a shift in how government agencies buy vehicles. The EPA can facilitate these efforts or hamstring them, as happened when the Trump EPA <a href="https://www.resourcesmag.org/resources-radio/waive-goodbye-history-and-future-california-waiver-emily-wimberger/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">revoked California's ability to set higher emissions standards</a> – something the Biden administration is likely to quickly restore.</p><p>The other "hard to decarbonize" sectors – buildings, industry and agriculture – will require sophistication and collaboration among all federal departments and agencies unlike any previous efforts across government.</p>
A New Comprehensive Climate Bill<p>The best way to tackle these sectors would be a comprehensive climate bill that uses some mechanism, like a <a href="https://www.rff.org/publications/issue-briefs/clean-energy-standards" target="_blank">clean energy standard</a>, that sets a cap, or limit, on emissions and tightens it over time. Here, the problem lies more in the politics of the moment than anything else. Biden and his team will have to convince lawmakers from fossil fuel-producing states to work on these efforts.</p><p>Democratic control of the Senate raises the chances that Congress could pass comprehensive climate legislation, but that isn't a given. Until that happens, Biden will have to rely on agencies issuing new rules, which are vulnerable to being revoked by future administrations. It's a little like playing chess without a queen or rooks.</p><p>Years of delays have allowed global warming to progress so far that many of its impacts may soon become irreversible. To meet its ambitious goals, the administration will need everyone, progressives and conservatives, state and local leaders, and the private sector, to work with them.</p><h3>Biden's Core Climate Team</h3><p>President-elect Joe Biden's senior leadership picks have years of experience with climate policy. He and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduced these seven as their core climate team. Gina McCarthy, John Kerry and Ali Zaidi will not require Senate confirmation. The others will.</p>
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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The oil industry responded to the controversial and last-minute sale of oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with a collective 'meh' on Wednesday.
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By Jessica Corbett
President-elect Joe Biden is facing renewed pressure to deliver on his promise of a bold climate agenda after a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration could move forward with a Wednesday auction of fossil fuel drilling leases for federally protected lands in Alaska.
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By Gabriel Filippelli
The Trump administration has worked to weaken U.S. environmental regulations in many areas, from water and air pollution to energy development and land conservation. One of its most controversial actions is known as the "secret science" rule because it would require scientists to disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, for their findings to be considered in shaping regulations. This measure has just been finalized.
Despite steps such as phasing out leaded gasoline, lead poisoning is still a serious public health problem across the U.S. AZDHS
Using Child Health Records to Map Lead Exposure<p>My work is made possible because researchers can obtain confidential patient records, under strict regulations and oversight to ensure their confidentiality throughout analysis. These controls are mandated under <a href="https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">federal regulations</a> that were rightly instituted to protect people's identities and health data pursuant to the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.</p><p>I started researching lead exposure hot spots in U.S. cities almost 15 years ago, well before thousands of kids were poisoned by lead in Flint. Pediatric exposure to lead results in permanent neurological effects – namely, reduced IQ and deficits in attention, learning and memory compared with nonintoxicated peers. These impacts <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/lead-poisoning-and-health" target="_blank">are permanent</a>, so it is critical to identify and eliminate lead exposure sources before children are poisoned.</p><p>Because I did not have the resources to obtain and analyze millions of samples of soil, dust and water for lead, I turned to medical records. Children around the country have routine blood tests, and many of them include an assay for blood lead levels. I realized that if I could obtain those records, as well as each child's age, test date and home address, I could map out the distribution of lead poisoning.</p><p>In an ideal world public health experts wouldn't use maps based on kids who have already been permanently poisoned to find exposure sources. Nevertheless, 16,000 medical records later, I was able to produce a detailed block-by-block map of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-012-9474-y" target="_blank">blood levels in children</a> in Indianapolis.</p>
Blood lead levels of children in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the period February 2002 to December 2008 (n = 12,431) for children between ages 0 and 5.99 years (area = 1,044 km2). Filippelli et al, 2012., CC BY
Pinpointing Exposure Sources and Timing<p>This approach led me and my colleagues to two major discoveries that have improved communities and shaped policy at the local and national levels. Neither of these insights could be used to implement solutions under the proposed secret science rule.</p><p>First, we found that the pediatric lead poisoning distribution patterns we identified from medical records <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-012-9474-y" target="_blank">matched a rudimentary map</a> of patterns of legacy lead contamination – lead emitted over decades by sources such as leaded gasoline, lead-based paint and industrial emissions – that we constructed from separate research work on <a href="https://www.mapmyenvironment.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">urban soil and dust</a>. This indicated that at least in Indianapolis, soil and contaminated dust generated from it was likely the major exposure mechanism for lead in children.</p><p>We were able to leverage that finding in some particularly contaminated neighborhoods where the EPA had previously carried out cleanups. Indeed, our work spurred the agency to reanalyze one of these poorly mitigated neighborhoods and reopen the cleanup over a <a href="https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-completes-cleanup-100-properties-american-lead-site-indianapolis-soil-sampling" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">much broader target area</a>.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a37a039636226eb137004af7c191fdbc"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ATNvg9RXzFE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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By Julia Conley
Just over two weeks before President Donald Trump is set to leave the White House, his U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday finalized a rollback of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—a law that's been in place since 1918 and which conservation groups credit with holding corporate polluters accountable for harming bird species.
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By Andrea Germanos
"The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge faces its biggest threat yet."
That's the warning issued by the National Audubon Society on Tuesday — a day before the Trump administration is set to sell oil and gas leasing rights in the refuge's coastal plain, a biodiversity hotspot of critical importance to the Gwich'in people and dubbed America's Serengeti.
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Former coal lobbyist and current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler is expected to announce on Tuesday a rule tobacco consultants devised as an "explicit procedural hurdle" to protecting public health.
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By Brett Wilkins
Wildlife advocates on Monday accused the Trump administration of "willful ignorance" after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act after 45 years of protection, even though experts say the animals are far from out of the proverbial woods.
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By Tara Lohan
This holiday season just about everything was different. Vacations were postponed. Parties and family get-togethers were canceled or moved online as folks hunkered down at the request of public-health officials. But one thing continued as usual: President Trump's attacks on the environment.
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By Sarah Reinhardt
The federal government released new U.S. dietary guidelines Tuesday after three years of preparation, and it served a strong win to both alcohol and soda industries.
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By Brett Wilkins
A report published Tuesday by the eco-advocacy group Environment America urges President-elect Joe Biden to immediately restore critical environmental protections gutted by Trump administration regulatory rollbacks.
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