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.

climate change COP28

An audio diary from the COP28 climate conference, Part 1

Sights, sounds and scenes from the largest climate gathering on the planet.

Dr. Robbie Parks joins the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast to give listeners a front row seat at the largest, most consequential climate change conference on the planet.

Keep reading...Show less
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.
rural opposition to large-scale solar
Credit: Vrabelpeter1/BigStock Photo ID: 78435575

Sunblocked: Resistance to solar in farm country

Across the country, rural communities are pushing back against large-scale solar development.

Jane Muncke: "Perils of Plastic Packaging”

On this episode, toxicology scientist Dr. Jane Muncke joins Nate to discuss the current state of food production and the effects of ultra processed foods and their packaging on our health.

coastal erosion & flooding vulnerability
Credit: NCDOTcommunications/Flickr

Dolan, Godfrey: Scientists proved Outer Banks are moving

Findings more than 50 years ago by coastal geologist Robert Dolan and husband-and-wife researchers Paul and Melinda Godfrey changed barrier island understanding and led the National Park Service to reverse longstanding policy.
Solar pumps empowering women farmers
Credit: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Water Alternatives Photos/Flickr

Solar pumps are empowering women farmers in India

On top of its climate benefits, the technology is boosting women's income and confidence while challenging traditional gender norms.
2023 global heat record
Credit: Chris Yarzab/Flickr

2023 smashes record for world’s hottest year by huge margin

Rapid reduction in fossil fuel burning urgently needed to preserve liveable conditions, say scientists, as climate damage deepens.

Brain drain worries grow as energy, climate lawmakers exit

Congress will be losing prominent legislators from top committees, scrambling the landscape of energy and environment policymaking.
From our Newsroom
COP28 climate change conference

An audio diary from the COP28 climate conference, Part 2

The sights, sounds and scenes from the largest climate gathering on the planet.

republican climate change denial

Opinion: House Speaker Mike Johnson’s climate change playbook — deny the science, take the funding

The two-faced charade of climate denial while diving into the pot of federal renewable incentives and tax breaks.

childrens health climate change

Delays in joining the RGGI regional climate program means excess ER visits and child illness in Pennsylvania

Up to 128 premature deaths from air pollution could have been prevented if the state had entered the program in 2022 as planned.

environmental justice

LISTEN: Carlos Gould on wildfire smoke and our health

“Information matters a lot — trying to explain not just that there’s a problem, but how to do something about it.”

fracking PFAS

“Forever chemicals” in Pennsylvania fracking wells could impact health of surrounding communities: Report

More than 5,000 wells in the state were injected with 160 million pounds of undisclosed, “trade-secret” chemicals, which potentially include PFAS.

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