Weekend Reader:  The shove heard 'round the planet (sort of)

Weekend Reader:  The shove heard 'round the planet (sort of)

EPA's strongarm tactics with reporters bode ill for the environment and the First Amendment

If you define the planet as a small, somewhat insular coterie of journalists working a largely-neglected beat, then yes, this is a Shot Heard 'Round the Planet. (h/t, Ralph Waldo Emerson).


This week, the beleaguered EPA press staff went Full Soprano on an Associated Press reporter trying to attend a meeting. While some reporters were admitted to an agency briefing on PFAS—perfluorinated chemicals linked to cancer and present in many American water systems—others were blocked. Journalists from CNN and E&E News were told they could not enter, but AP's Ellen Knickmeyer was grabbed by security guards and shoved away from the room, according to Knickmeyer and witnesses.

EPA reversed course and phoned Knickmeyer to apologize, according to published reports. But that any federal agency's professional staff could think that this was a smart tactic to begin with shows how big the gap is between the Administration of a man who says "everyone's talking about" his run at the Nobel Peace Prize and those of us in the Fake Media.

Will heads roll at EPA over this? Well, consider that Scott Pruitt's head is fully attached despite the ethical swamp he seems to have created with abandon.

My colleagues at the Society of Environmental Journalists emailed a letter to EPA, pointing out how "patently ridiculous" EPA's behavior was. Tucked into SEJ President Bobby Magill's letter was an ironic gem. EPA had explained that the room wasn't big enough to include all reporters—including some who say their requests for inclusion, by phone or email, were ignored.

"Surely, larger rooms were available at the EPA headquarters or in a nearby federal building or hotel."

It turns out the nearest hotel, barely more than a red-tie-length away from EPA's Pennsylvania Avenue HQ, is the Trump International Hotel. I get it. Nice one.

The bottom line on this one is fairly obvious, and was made by quite a few people this week: Contempt for the environment is a hallmark of the new EPA—revulsive to many, but not strictly unconstitutional. Contempt for a free press is contempt for the First Amendment, so there's some new ground being broken in Mr. Pruitt's neighborhood.

As President Trump might say, everyone's talking about it. At least in our community.

Top Weekend News

Inspiring read from Drew Philip in The Guardian on Appalachian tree-sitters seeking to stop a pipeline.

Why gasoline prices have risen by 31% since Memorial Day last year. (CNN)

From the Miami Herald: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is basing his run for Florida Governor on climate concerns. And it's complicated.

New Republic's Emily Atkin: What is Kilauea's climate impact?

From Ensia: Why are environmental groups so white? (Ed. Note: And why are we still asking this after 30 years?)

Opinion Pieces and Editorials

The News-Review of Roseburg, OR editorializes on EPA's harsh treatment of reporters.

Not unrelated, from the Montana Post: A congressman best known for assaulting a reporter last year has banned public meetings with his constituents due to "security risks."

Flashback: Reporter Sharon Lerner's New York Times op-ed previewed some of the concerns that surfaced during EPA's reporter fracas this week.

Podcasts of Note

EHN's Peter Dykstra and Living On Earth host Steve Curwood discuss how seafood species are moving north in warming waters.

Rollbacks, Swamp Drainers and Denial For This Week

From Jeremy Deaton of Nexus Media: Study finds close links between racist behavior and climate denial.

From the AP's shovee, Ellen Knickmeyer: EPA's collusion with the Heartland Institute.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: While coal plants decline in the U.S., American firms are promoting their expansion in Southeast Asia.

Climate change and an aging population

New book explores how climate change impacts the elderly in unique ways — and how we can preserve their well-being and include them in solutions.

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.
texas fine particle pollution
Photo by Vlad Busuioc on Unsplash

Fine particles kill thousands of Texans a year. It’s likely to get worse.

Ken Paxton and 18 other state attorneys general are fighting a Biden administration plan to crack down on the pollutant, linked to heart disease, breast and lung cancer and other ailments

“Super-emitting” oil wells near Denver are releasing 142% more pollution per hour than state average, CSU study finds

Adams County had three wells with massive emissions, the largest leaking 165 pounds of methane per hour. State will use the data to prioritize plugging orphan wells.

Accepting leadership gavel, Maryland governor vows new approach toward Bay

Taking the helm of the policy-making body overseeing the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore called for the federal government and states in the Bay region to dramatically redefine the focus and goals of the 40-year-old partnership.

As drought dries up B.C. rivers, conservationists turn to beavers for help

The ongoing drought in many parts of B.C. is causing some rivers in the province's northern Interior to reach their driest mid-October levels in years. In Prince George, the unusually low waters have locals worried.

Sydney bioluminescence event in Rushcutters Bay is a signal of warming ocean currents, experts say

Passers-by describe it as stepping into a "dream world" but experts say the bright blue and green lights from bioluminescent algae are a marker for the warming planet. 
From our Newsroom
800,000 tons of radioactive waste from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry has gone “missing”

800,000 tons of radioactive waste from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry has gone “missing”

Poor recordkeeping on hazardous waste disposal points to potential for bigger problems, according to a new study.

drought climate farming

Opinion: Climate change and soil loss — the new Dust Bowl?

How we can save our soil, stabilize the climate, and prevent a new Dust Bowl.

climate change health care

Severe flooding increasingly cutting people off from health care

Many more Americans will find themselves regularly cut off from essential services, rescue workers and health care long before water actually reaches their homes, a recent study predicts.

Heat, air pollution and climate change … oh my! Was summer 2023 the new normal?

Heat, air pollution and climate change … oh my! Was summer 2023 the new normal?

Intense heat waves induced by climate change create favorable conditions for air pollution to worsen. Scientists say this isn’t likely to change unless action is taken.

environmental justice

LISTEN: Robbie Parks on why hurricanes are getting deadlier

"In places where there are high minority populations they bear, by far, the most burden of deaths from tropical cyclones."

children nature

Opinion: When kids feel the magic of nature, they will want to protect it

Improving our quality of life starts with the simple of act of getting kids outdoors.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.