Weekend Reader for Sunday, Dec. 3

Weekend Reader for Sunday, Dec. 3

Top news and notes for your weekend reading

Oysters, horse-trading the environment for tax bill votes, and much more.


According to the Washington rumor mill, the long-anticipated departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be at hand. The cruel irony for environmental advocates is that they may long for the day when the ExxonMobil lifer and former CEO was in charge at state.

His potential replacement is CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson was a voice of relative moderation in the Trump cabinet, though his push to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate accord failed.

In his three-term congressional career, Pompeo earned a 4 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters. He has close ties to enviros' worst nemeses, the Koch Brothers, and his Wichita, Kansas, district means he was literally the Kochs' congressman.

A clever piece from Angus McCrone, chief editor of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, muses "If only I were a climate and clean energy skeptic. Then I could stop wasting time worrying about the planet." Then he demolishes the most common climate denial memes.

Check out other weekend newspaper editorials on the pesticide chlorpyrifos and pipelines, among others (below).

And from our friends at Living On Earth, a new kind of divided Congress: An interview with the co-founder of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, whose 62 members are equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.

Top Weekend News

The Senate has passed its tax reform bill over criticism that most Americans will lose ground. So might the Alaskan environment: Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was a late convert to the bill when she attached a rider clearing the way for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And a piece in the Atlantic mulls how native villages could thrive or suffer if drilling is increased.

Ironic, since other reports show Arctic ice off the Alaskan coast at record early winter lows.

A nice piece for Sunday brunch: Mobile Bay Magazine on oyster farmers and their need for clean, fresh water. Alabama, Georgia, and Florida have been battling for 20 years about water use.

This Week In Trump

From Mashable's Andrew Freedman: The pick for top science advisor sticks out like a sore thumb among other Trump nominees -- he thinks global warming isn't a hoax.

And EPA's program to assess chemical risks is facing the budget chopping block.

EPA dropped an Obama-era rule requiring mining companies to prove that they have the financial means to clean up after themselves.

As if to prove that a lack of self-awareness is a political asset, convicted coal baron Don Blankenship is spending money on a campaign to get elected West Virginia's next U.S. Senator.

Opinions and Editorials

Good News

Generally, we're not the place to come for good news, but we're more than happy to share it when it comes around.

We thought we'd revisit this piece from summer on the promise of satellite technology to help monitor illegal logging, mining, and poaching, as well as offering more reliable data on some wildlife populations and behavior. Richard Conniff's piece for Yale Environment 360 is hopeful, and doesn't even get into the role of satellite monitoring of pirate fishing.

Deniers' Corner

If climate denial were an Olympic event, James Delingpole would be a gold medal contender. But alas, he'll have to settle for a denial merit badge for his linking climate concern to the Nazis. Shameless.

algoma steel sault pollution
Algoma Steel, pictured in 2020. (Credit: Christopher Katsarov Luna/EHN)

Cleaner steelmaking can’t come fast enough for this Northern Ontario city

Algoma Steel continues to exceed Canada’s standard air pollution limits for cancer-causing compounds and struggles with spills as it pushes toward a “green” makeover.

SAULT SAINTE MARIE, Mich. — Peter McLarty technically stopped teaching science in 2000. But the retired high school teacher continues to educate — only now it’s about the dangers of a massive steel-making plant in his Northern Ontario community.

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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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Vermont moves to protect pollinators by proposing pesticide restrictions

Vermont's legislation to limit neonicotinoid pesticides, known for harming bees, progressed through the House Committee with substantial support.

Abagael Giles reports for Vermont Public.

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New York takes legal action against Brazilian meatpacker over misleading climate promises

New York's Attorney General Letitia James accuses JBS, the world's largest meatpacker, of false advertising about its climate initiatives.

David Gelles and Manuela Andreoni report for The New York Times.

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Midwest experiences winter warmth disrupting life and economy

Unprecedented warm winter disrupts traditions and economies across the Midwest as ice vanishes from the Great Lakes.

Stephen Starr reports for The Guardian.

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US 'climate-smart' agriculture funding often misses its target

A new report criticizes more than half of U.S. federal "climate-smart" agriculture funding for not effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Aliya Uteuova reports for The Guardian.

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From our Newsroom
petrochemical shell pennsylvania plastic

Tracking petrochemical accidents across the US

A new database monitors fires, flares, spills and other accidents at petrochemical plants.

petrochemical houston gulf coast

Lives “devastated’ by petrochemical industry pollution in Texas: Report

New analysis illustrates the climate, environmental, and human rights tolls linked to petrochemical production surrounding the Houston Ship Channel region.

LNG gulf coast

LNG production comes with a price, Gulf Coast communities warn

US takes the global lead on liquid natural gas production and export, as economic promises and environmental worries collide.

LNG gulf coast

La producción de gas natural licuado tiene un precio, advierten las comunidades la Costa del Golfo

Entre promesas económicas y preocupaciones ambientales, Estados Unidos lidera la producción y exportación de gas natural licuado.

Ante la expansión del GNL en la costa del Golfo, la comunidad espera erigirse como un muro de contención

Ante la expansión del GNL en la costa del Golfo, la comunidad espera erigirse como un muro de contención

“La gente no sabe qué haríamos sin el petróleo y el gas. Esto nos sale muy caro”.

extreme heat

Op-ed: We are undercounting heat-related deaths in the US

Knowing how many people die or get sick from heat-related causes is essential for the policy arguments to equitably adapt to and mitigate climate change.

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