New Trump EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had two choices after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He could rise to the challenges of his office, or he could tool around the country pooh-poohing people who asked about climate change, giving friendly interviews to conspiracy sites like Breitbart and issuing furious ad hominem attacks on journalists who questioned the EPA’s seemingly less-than-robust response to the chemical explosions and spills accompanying the storms.
He, of course, chose the latter. And mind you, I suspect most of us were prepared for how beholden to polluting industries Scott Pruitt would be, because that is precisely how he auditioned for his current position; what’s more surprising is just how petulant the man would be. He appears to be running the entire department as an exercise in self-gratification and extended bouts of pouting.
“I’ve got to say this to you: what is it about the past administration?” Pruitt
That two storms of Harvey and Irma’s caliber would make landfall in the United States during the same swampy fortnight seemed exceptional at first — and then, of course, it didn’t. That’s because surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, where many hurricanes are born, are between 0.5 degrees Celsius and 1 degree Celsius above average this year. Warmer seas, combined with higher atmospheric temperatures, feed storms, helping turn average hurricanes into spectacularly destructive events. Add accelerated sea level rise into the mix, and you get large swaths of North American coastline inundated in previously unimaginable amounts of water.
Many living in Louisiana, New York, on the edges of the Olympic Peninsula and all along the coast of Alaska have recently found themselves in the
The Trump administration has auctioned off acres of habitat for the sage-grouse, which narrowly missed making the endangered species list after an extensive plan to preserve the bird’s habitat took effect during the Obama administration. Which, naturally means Trump is dead set marching back the progress. From Westwise:
Sage-grouse, a chicken-sized bird once widespread in the West, have seen their populations drop dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to oil and gas development. In an effort to keep the sage-grouse off the endangered species list — a move that would limit all forms of development throughout the region — ranchers, conservationists, Western governors and the Obama administration spent years working on collaborative plans to help the species rebound. Widely hailed as a success, the plans resulted in former Interior Secretary Sally Jewellannouncingthat the sage-grouse would avoid the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this success story is under
Kathryn Miles, author of the new book Quakeland: On the Road To America’s Next Devastating Earthquake, has written a piece at Politico on the kind of subject most people don’t think about until after a disaster. She explores what would happen if a big earthquake struck at or near Cushing, Oklahoma, a crossroads of 14 major oil pipelines and hundreds of tanks holding, in the latest tally, nearly 60 million barrels of unrefined oil.
In her investigation, she discovered the dirty little secret of this reservoir of fossil fuel—the minuscule federal agency that supposedly regulates safety standards for these tanks doesn’t regulate or set standards for them. And these tanks and the pipelines that feed them simply aren’t prepared to ride out a major quake.
If there were a major one that broke pipelines and split, say, half those tanks, the environmental disaster would make the Exxon Valdez spill of 260,000 barrels of oil near
This is the525theditionof the Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) usually appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Hereis the Sept. 9 Green Spotlight. More than 27,735 environmentally oriented stories have been rescued to appear in this series since 2006. Inclusion of a story in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.