With growers reporting dicamba damage to 3.1 million acres of soybeans, the harvest-time question for farmers is how much their yields will suffer from the weedkiller. University of Tennessee weed specialist Larry Steckel says the earlier that soybeans were hit in their lifecycle, the less likely yields will be reduced.
EPA chief Scott Pruitt says the agency will no longer settle lawsuits with environmental groups behind closed doors, arguing that the Obama administration regularly excluded industry and state governments from those conversations while pandering to green activists.
Following an explosion of complaints about crop damage by the weedkiller dicamba, the EPA strengthened its rules for spraying the herbicide onto genetically modified cotton and soybeans. The new guidelines require special training of applicators before they can spray dicamba, limit the time of day when it can be used and bar spraying when winds exceed 10 miles an hour, a reduction from the 15 mph limit this year.
In a comprehensive look at the controversy over the weedkiller glyphosate, FERN in a story with The Nation magazine documents the steps Monsanto took in a concerted spin campaign with scientists and regulators to make sure the world’s most widely used herbicide remained free of any links to cancer. But author Rene Ebersole in the article, “Mass Exposure,” writes that the company's carefully constructed defense of the chemical is coming under increasing pressure, as its methods behind that defense are revealed.
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."
The EPA intends to repeal the Clean Power Plan — an Obama-era effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 — according to a document circulated within the agency’s Regulatory Screening Agency.
For years, the EPA has reimbursed the Justice Department for prosecuting Superfund lawsuits “to force polluters to pay for cleaning up sites they left contaminated with hazardous waste,” says the New York Times. Now, with the Trump administration in charge, the EPA may end those payments, which, at about $20 million a year, amount to a quarter of the funding for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department.
In a potentially significant change to the U.S. ethanol mandate, the EPA is considering whether to allow exports of ethanol to be counted toward the volume requirements in a law intended to boost the domestic consumption of biofuels, said Reuters, citing two unnamed sources. The ethanol trade group Growth Energy said the proposal cast doubt on the Trump administration’s support for biofuels, including corn-based ethanol.
In order to provide around-the-clock security for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the agency “has summoned agents from various cities to serve two-week stints helping guard Pruitt,” says the Washington Post. “The practice has rankled some employees and outside critics, who note that the EPA’s criminal enforcement efforts already are understaffed and that the Trump administration has proposed further cuts to the division.”
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt spent 43 days out of a 92-day stretch from March to May in Oklahoma or traveling between his home state and Washington, according to a group of former EPA officials. "Based on congressional requests and a hotline complaint," the EPA inspector general's office said it will investigate Pruitt's frequent trips, reported the Oklahoman.