The Trump administration's new and smaller boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments may not generate many immediate requests from energy companies to mine or drill on the 2 million acres of land, said the Associated Press. The Interior Department declined to say how many claims have been filed but a trade group said low uranium prices would "discourage any investment in new claims'" in the Bears Ears territory of Utah.
Although EPA administrator Scott Pruitt favors elimination of tax credits for wind and solar power, he isn't calling the shots for the administration, said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the No. 2 state in wind-generated electricity. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "will be in the room when these agreements are made," said Grassley, a member of the tax-writing Finance Committee, and Mnuchin backs an ongoing phase-down of wind and solar tax credits."
Facing a proposed budget cut, an Interior Department agency told the National Academy of Sciences to stop work on a study into the health risks faced by Appalachian residents who live near mountaintop removal coal-mining sites, said the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail.
The prominent coal-industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, a former Senate staff member, "is likely to be tapped as the No. 2 official at the Environmental Protection Agency," says Axios, citing two people familiar with the decision-making process. "The expected appointment for deputy EPA administrator is a turnaround from last month when the White House was poised to tap Jeff Holmstead, a former top EPA official under President George W. Bush," and a more moderate choice than Wheeler.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says that removing burdensome environmental permit regulations is high on his list of ways to improve the U.S. manufacturing climate. Ross plans to present the list to President Trump in May.
California, New Mexico, New York and Washington State have sued the Interior Department and the Bureau of Land Management in an attempt to stop new coal leases on public lands.
Air, water and soil quality in China are improving, but unevenly, with certain areas faring worse from pollution, says the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection. The state of agricultural land quality in the country ‘does not allow for optimism’ and ‘the problem of soil pollution for industry, companies and nearby land is prominent,’” said Chen Jining, head of the MEP,
The new photo on the Bureau of Land Management’s homepage shows a wall of coal at the Peabody North Antelope Rochelle Coal Mine in Wyoming, echoing President Trump’s support for the struggling industry. Under the Obama Administration, the photo was of a man and a boy backpacking in the mountains and looking into the sunset.
In the past it’s been the U.S. pushing China to clean up its energy portfolio and lower emissions, but under Trump the tables could turn, says The New York Times. China has publicly called on all signatories, including the U.S., of the Paris climate treaty to respect the pact. Trump has said he will back out of the deal and this week signed an executive order to reverse the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which lowered carbon emissions from coal plants.
President Trump will sign an executive order this week to undo President Obama’s 2015 clean-power plan, EPA secretary Scott Pruitt revealed in an interview with ABC’s This Week. The plan was designed to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by 30 percent from 2005 levels before 2030, in part by targeting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Completing a two-week legislative sprint by Republicans, President Trump signed a resolution that repeals a stream-protection rule issued by the Obama administration to restrict pollution near streams and require more restoration of riparian land.
The Trump administration has removed nearly all mention of climate change from the White House website, says Reuters, while publishing a call for increased energy development and fewer environmental regulations.
With his wife and family seated behind him, Rep. Ryan Zinke faced the Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources yesterday during his confirmation hearing for secretary of the Interior. The Montana Republican told the committee that he was “absolutely against” the sale or transfer of public lands. But he reassured many of his fellow Republicans that under his watch states would have more say in the management of natural resources and wildlife within their borders.
A preliminary report conducted by the Department of the Interior says the office is considering whether to raise coal royalty rates on public lands and require compensation from coal companies for carbon emissions. Coal on public land accounts for 10 percent of total U.S. greenhouse emissions, says The Seattle Times.
Officials in 24 states want president-elect Trump to cancel the Clean Power Plan put forth by the Obama administration, says Reuters. The plan calls for lowering power-plant emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, but the Supreme Court has delayed its implantation until a U.S. district court in the District of Columbia decides whether the order is legal.
If Donald Trump pushes ahead with his promises to dismantle President Obama’s climate-change policies, he’ll face tough fights from environmental groups. But Trump has a few tactics he can use to outmaneuver the opposition, reports The New York Times.
Even as China’s coal-fueled factories belch toxic smoke, the biggest abuse on China’s environment comes from agriculture, says Time. The country is trying to solve the problem with some of the most radical changes to its agricultural policy since Mao Zedong forced the People’s Republic onto collective farms in the late 1950s—and 30 million people died of starvation as a result.
More than half of California’s reservoirs are contaminated with high levels of mercury, says the Los Angeles Times. Nine local water boards and state authorities have called for a statewide plan to lower mercury levels in 180 of the state’s 300 reservoirs and warn fishermen that their catch may be poisonous.