Weekend Reader for January 7

Weekend Reader for January 7

This week, the Trump Administration reprised a Reagan-Era blunder.

In the early 1980's President Reagan and Interior Secretary James G. Watt proposed opening up virtually the entire U.S. coastline -- Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans -- to offshore oil exploration. Problem was, the oil industry had virtually no interest in entering most of the areas proposed.


Current oil and gas prices are extremely low. Offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling is inherently more expensive than land-based drilling. Oil prices would have to once again shoot through the roof if there were any expectation that the oil industry actually wants the gift that it's being offered. The New York Times has the national view, while the Tampa Bay Times reports on how Florida's Republican governor is set to battle the White House on offshore drilling.

Top Weekend News

From Lisa Friedman of the New York Times:Expect environmental battles to intensify in 2018.

From the AP's Seth Borenstein: Ocean oxygen levels are taking a plunge. A new study also shows a dramatic increase in coral bleaching.

With a metro area of thirty million, Jakarta is one of the world's largest cities. They're contemplating a future underwater.

You may not have heard of Paul Nyden. The pioneering environmental journalist died this week at age 72. Nyden was among the first to report on mountaintop removal, the then-new coal mining method that lived up to its own name, blasting the tops of mountains to bits to remove the coal seams below, with the resulting waste rock dumped into valleys and streams below. Nyden stood up to the dominant coal industry as a reporter for the Charleston (WV) Gazette, mentoring other fearless reporters like Ken Ward, Jr., who had the difficult task of writing Nyden's obituary .

This Week in Trump

The Interior Department is axing regulations that don't comport with a Trump World view: Conservation and climate change need no longer be considered in many agency decisions.

Over at EPA, they're moving quickly to write new climate change rules that could wipe out any last vestige of Obama's climate policy.

While you were away..... Good rundown from Outside Magazine on Trump Administration rollbacks over the holidays.

The Interior Department also ended a decades-long standoff over building a road through wilderness on the Alaska Peninsula.

Opinions and Editorials

Michael Mann is a deeply respected climate scientist, at least among those who respect science. He offers this piece on the much discussed "Bomb Cyclone" and cold snap in the Northeast.

Writing for the Center for Health Journalism, Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras writes that EPA's unwillingness to ban chloprpyrifos would guarantee more illness and death among farm workers.

When wildfires threaten lives and raze entire communities, other hazards can get obscured. This op-ed highlights the added toxic risk from burning carpets laden with toxic chemicals.

From this week's Living On Earth: Peter Dykstra joins Steve Curwood to assess the environment and politics as the year turns, and finds little cause to think the current deregulatory push by the Trump Administration will change. Still, the states have become bright spots in the renewable energy sector and Congress is showing a bit more commitment to climate action.

Losing Bears Ears: Amy Irvine, a Utah mom, on what it means to see the new Bears Ears National Monument drastically reduced in size.

Obama quote that he'll never live down

The Obama Administration also tried a less ambitious expansion of offshore drilling. Shortly before Deepwater Horizon's blowout, he said this about how oil spills didn't much happen anymore. Ouch.

chemical recycling
Save our Susquehanna members tabling and giving out signs at a river event at the campus theatre in Lewisburg, PA. (Credit: Sandy Field)

Residents fear Pennsylvania, West Virginia chemical recycling proposals will deepen fossil fuel ties and pollution problems

"We’d like to be talking about positive things, focusing on our renewable energy future.”

PITTSBURGH — When Sandy Field first heard about the plan to build a new chemical recycling facility in her community in Point Township, Pennsylvania, she thought it sounded like a great idea.

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Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
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chemical recycling
Photos courtesy of Eastman

Q&A: Director of sustainability at Eastman Chemical Company talks chemical recycling

Chemical recycling, or advanced recycling, is an umbrella term for processes that use heat and/or chemicals to break down plastic waste into component parts for reuse as plastic feedstocks or as fuel.

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California girds for a Trump comeback with climate defense plan

Gov. Gavin Newsom is bolstering California's climate policies in anticipation of potential challenges from Donald Trump.

Blanca Begert reports for POLITICO.

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Vegas doubles down on water conservation amidst growing aridity

In an era of unprecedented drought, Las Vegas is leading the way with rigorous water-saving strategies to ensure its survival and growth.

Daniel Rothberg reports for Smithsonian Magazine.

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Biden boosts wildlife protection efforts previously dialed back

The Biden administration has reinstated protections for at-risk animals and plants, a pivot from previous policies.

Catrin Einhorn reports for The New York Times.

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Landfills release more methane than expected

A recent study reveals that U.S. landfills emit methane at rates nearly triple those previously reported to regulators, shedding light on their significant role in climate change.

Hiroko Tabuchi reports for The New York Times.

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From our Newsroom
Op-ed: “Plastic People” — A documentary that changed my view on plastics

Op-ed: “Plastic People” — A documentary that changed my view on plastics

The plastic crisis has evolved from an environmental concern to a critical human health issue.

petrochemical shell pennsylvania plastic

Shell must seek a new air pollution permit for its Pennsylvania plastics plant

For nearly a year and a half the company has been operating under a construction permit. Now, the plant will be subjected to federal Clean Air Act laws.

LNG Gulf Coast pollution climate

Op-ed: For environmental groups, Biden’s LNG decision cause for celebration – and caution

“It's a fight for our health and the health of our environment.”

environmental justice

LISTEN: Ana Baptista on supporting environmental justice movement building in academia

“Some of the best relationships have been built over that time where you’re just getting to know each other, showing up, being present.”

petrochemicals Texas

Toxic air lingers in Texas Latino community, revealing failures in state’s air monitoring system

Public data from a network of state air monitors around the Houston Ship Channel is hard to interpret and is often inadequate, leaving Latino-majority neighborhoods like Cloverleaf unaware of whether the air they breathe is safe.

petrochemicals Texas

El aire tóxico en una comunidad latina de Texas revela los fallos del sistema estatal de control de calidad del aire

Los datos públicos de una red de monitores estatales del aire alrededor del Canal de Navegación de Houston son difíciles de interpretar y a menudo son insuficientes, dejando a vecindarios de mayoría latina, como Cloverleaf, sin saber si el aire que respiran es seguro.

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