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.

Fractured: Harmful chemicals and unknowns haunt Pennsylvanians surrounded by fracking

We tested families in fracking country for harmful chemicals and revealed unexplained exposures, sick children, and a family's "dream life" upended.

This is part 1 of our 4-part series, "Fractured," an investigation of fracking chemicals in the air, water, and people of western Pennsylvania.

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www.nytimes.com

California condors get an assist from an unlikely source: A wind power company

Federal wildlife authorities in California are working with a wind energy company to breed the endangered birds in captivity to replace any that may be killed by turbine blades. Conservationists are skeptical.
www.nytimes.com

Carbon County, Wyoming, knows which way the wind is blowing

In the heart of coal country, the town of Rawlins will soon be home to one of the nation’s largest wind farms. But pride in the fossil fuel past remains a powerful force.
www.bbc.com

'UK first' nuclear fusion plan for Nottinghamshire power station

A Nottinghamshire power station is put forward as a possible site for a prototype reactor.
www.bayjournal.com

Baltimore church converts neglected urban forest into ‘peace park’

Project to restore degraded woodlands in damaged community enlists help from all over.

www.newyorker.com

Bill McKibben: The shift to renewable energy can give more power to the people

We shouldn’t give up on the idea of democratizing energy ownership as much as possible.
news.mongabay.com

The possible meat: A Brazilian farmer shows ranching can regenerate the Cerrado

Matheus Sborgia, a Brazilian chef, decided to bet on regenerative agriculture after inheriting his grandfather's cattle ranch in the heart of the Cerrado.