The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Trump Plans to Slash Renewable Energy Budget by 70%
By Andrea Germanos
The Trump administration is planning to put the U.S. Department of Energy's budget for its renewable energy and energy efficiency program on the chopping block with a proposal to slash it by 70 percent.
That's according to a draft 2018 budget proposal obtained by Axios.
It shows $613 million for sustainable transportation in 2017, but just $184 million for 2018—a nearly 70-percent drop. There was $451 million for renewable power in the budget for 2017 but $134 million proposed for 2018—a 70-percent drop. There was $762 million for energy efficiency in 2017 and $160 proposed for 2018. That's a 79-percent drop.
In total, the data obtained by Axios show that U.S. Department of Energy's office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy budget went from $2,073 million in 2017 to a proposed $636 million for 2018, which marks a nearly 70-percent decrease.
The news outlet's Amy Harder writes that the plan is unlikely to get congressional approval but is important nonetheless, as "[i]t puts a low marker down to negotiate with Congress. The lower the starting point, the lower the ultimate numbers could well end up."
Rep. Keith Ellison reacted to the news on Twitter, writing: "Cutting renewable energy by 70% will not only cost us jobs, it will worsen public health & hurt our environment!"
"Clean energy jobs, including those from solar, wind, energy efficiency, smart grid technology and battery storage, vastly outnumber all fossil fuel jobs nationwide from the coal, oil and gas sectors. That includes jobs in power generation, mining and other forms of fossil fuel extraction," the conservation group found.
Nationwide, "clean energy jobs outnumber all fossil fuel jobs by over 2.5 to 1; and they outnumber all jobs in coal and gas by 5 to 1," the group wrote.
The U.S. Department of Energy's offices for nuclear power and fossil-fuel energy, would also be cut, Axios also reported, though by a smaller margin—31 percent and 54 percent respectively.
The new reporting comes as the U.K.-based accounting firm Ernst & Young's most recent Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index shows that the U.S. has fallen from the top spot to number three. It's a less attractive to market to invest in renewables thanks in part to President Donald Trump's order to gut his predecessor's Clean Power Plan.
"A marked shift in U.S. policy has resulted in the demise of the Clean Power Plan, which has made renewable investors more nervous about possible reductions to the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit. Concerns also include if gas prices continue to remain low and transmission capacity remains stagnant," the index states.
"The highly adverse rollbacks of U.S. climate policies by the Trump administration, if fully implemented and not compensated by other actors, are projected to flatten U.S. emissions instead of continuing on a downward trend," said professor Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.