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Judge Rebukes Trump's Attack on Public Lands, Rules Coal Mining Push Illegal

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Maria Gunnoe Flight, courtesy of southwings.org

By Julia Conley

Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.


Judge Brian Morris issued a ruling late Friday stating that the Interior Department broke federal law when it lifted former President Barack Obama's moratorium on coal mining in public lands.

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who resigned last December due to multiple ethics scandals, did not order adequate studies of the environmental impact of coal, Morris said. The Trump administration had claimed the plan was "a mere policy shift" in order to avoid having to order such reviews.

Morris refuted this claim, saying Trump had initiated a "major federal action" without taking the necessary precautions required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970.

The judge said he would hand down another ruling in the coming months on whether to reinstate Obama's 2016 moratorium.

"This is a victory for communities whose land, water, and way of life is threatened by new coal mining," said Jenny Harbine, an attorney with Earthjustice, who argued the case on behalf of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and several climate action groups. "It's time we put their health and safety ahead of coal industry interests."

The decision is just the latest defeat of Trump's efforts to roll back his predecessor's attempts to curb emissions from the coal industry and other fossil fuel businesses, ignoring public opinion and scientists who agree that fossil fuel extraction is contributing to the rapid warming of the planet.

About 40 rulings have now denied Trump the authority to follow through on his key energy plans, including his plan to sell fracking leases on public lands and his lifting of Obama's ban on oil and gas extraction in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

"The court held clearly that the Trump administration needs to rationally consider the consequences of its decision," said Harbine in a statement. "Those include dire impacts to clean water, public health and our climate."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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