Tag Archives: coal power

Leaving Parts of Trump’s Pro-Polluter Legacy Intact, Biden Gets C- on Environmental Report Card

Biden’s “limited achievements must be put in context of what both science and justice require to avoid the worst impacts of the climate and extinction crises,” said the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-2021

Photo: Eric Haynes/CC

Expressing alarm over President Joe Biden’s support for a number of pipeline projects and his failure to reverse the vast majority of environmental regulatory rollbacks introduced by his predecessor, the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund on Tuesday gave the president a grade of C-minus and said he “needs improvement” on its Environmental Report Card.

Six months into his presidency, Biden has fully met five out of 25 “concrete and achievable environmental promises” he made on the campaign trail, and has only reversed three of former President Donald Trump’s rollbacks.

CBD Action Fund noted in the report card (pdf) that the president signed an “unprecedented” 17 executive orders on his first day in office in January, including three that fulfilled “Day One” promises he had made: “formally beginning the reentry process to the Paris climate agreement, permanently rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, and directing all federal agencies to elevate addressing environmental justice to protect frontline communities.”

The group emphasized, however, that during Biden’s first six months in office the U.S. has experienced an unprecedented drought” and “record-shattering heatwaves” which climate scientists have long warned about.

“Thus, even as his administration is evaluated at the six-month mark, its limited achievements must be put in context of what both science and justice require to avoid the worst impacts of the climate and extinction crises,” the report card reads.

“President Biden got off to a strong start right when he took office, but his environmental agenda appears to be stalling out,” said Brett Hartl, chief political strategist at the CBD Action Fund. “He has to light a fire under his Cabinet and the federal agencies to complete his campaign promises without foot-dragging, because the climate and extinction crises are getting more urgent every day.”

Overall, the group credited Biden with fulfilling five campaign promises so far, including holding a global climate summit in his first 100 days in office and reinstating federal flood-protection standards that assess climate change risks.

The administration has taken steps to fulfill 13 other campaign pledges, including:
  • Ending financing for overseas coal projects;
  • Installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations; and
  • Requiring that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of benefits from climate spending.

“For other campaign promises, the Biden administration has yet to initiate efforts to achieve them,” the report card says. “For example, Biden spoke numerous times during the campaign about addressing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. He proposed a $20 billion conservation fund to address deforestation. However, this initiative was not part of his fiscal year 2022 budget proposal, and it is unclear what other steps the administration will take to address deforestation.”

CBD Action Fund identified just three Trump-era environmental rollbacks that Biden has reversed, including the so-called “secret science” rule restricting data the EPA can use to enact regulations; eliminating the use of the “social cost of carbon” in environmental reviews; and curtailing categories of industrial polluters subjected to greenhouse gas regulations.

Biden was also credited with taking steps to restore protections to the Tongass National Forest and the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, and with announcing recently that officials will “begin the process of undoing additional Trump-era rollbacks,” the report reads.

“The timeline and scope of these efforts is unclear,” said the CBD Action Fund. “For example, the Department of the Interior announced in June that it would ‘revisit’ the Trump-era rollback of the regulations guiding consultations under the Endangered Species Act.”

“But the department signaled that it would only reverse one of over 20 changes made by the previous administration to the regulations—specifically restoring the earlier definition of ‘indirect effects’—and stated that this effort would not even begin until December 2021 at the earliest,” the group continued.

In addition to more than two dozen Trump-era rollbacks the administration has taken no action to reverse, the group expressed indignation at Biden’s decision to support some of Trump’s attacks on the environment.

The president has declined to block the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota or shut down operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as approving nearly 2,500 new drilling permits on public lands and waters—”roughly the same amount that the Trump administration approved during its first entire year in office,” the report card reads.

“Biden’s bold vision during the campaign won’t be met if his administration leaves large chunks of Trump’s pro-polluter legacy intact,” said Hartl.

Biden has also supported Trump’s weakened protections from pesticides for endangered species, an increased limit for Atrazine pollution in waterways, and the expanded use of antibiotics on citrus crops.

“If President Biden does not act boldly, right now, the impacts of climate change will be severe enough to make large swaths of our planet nearly uninhabitable,” CBD Action Fund said.

After a promising start, the group added, “complacency and inertia could stymy further progress on his climate and environmental goals. Without a continued and sustained effort in the next 12 to 18 months, any potential environmental legacy could easily be erased.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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UN Chief Warns World on ‘Verge of the Abyss’ as WMO Releases Climate Report

The warning came alongside the release of the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Global Climate in 2020, which said it was one of the three warmest years on record.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-19-2021

The CZU lightning complex fire burns along Butano Ridge and in Pescadero Creek Park, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. This fire would later grow to over 85,000 acres and destroy over 900 structures. Photo: Inklein/Wikimedia Commons

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned Monday that humanity stands “on the verge of the abyss” as the climate crisis pushes the world “dangerously close” to hitting the 1.5 degree Celsius target limit of warming.

Guterres delivered the ominous remarks at the launch of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) State of the Global Climate report—a publication he said “should alarm us all.” Continue reading

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‘Major Win for the Planet’: Federal Court Strikes Down Trump Coal Power Plant Rule

“This decision frees up the new Biden administration to begin working immediately on the science-based greenhouse pollution rules we desperately need to make up for lost time.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-19-2021

The Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant owned by Xcel Energy and located in Becker, Minnesota, shown in 2016. (Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr/cc)

Climate campaigners welcomed a federal court’s decision Tuesday to strike down the Trump administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule—dubbed by its critics the “Dirty Power” rule—which loosened restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants.

“A failure by Trump is a major win for the planet,” said Clare Lakewood, legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “The court has wisely struck down another effort by this administration to shred environmental protections in service of polluters.” Continue reading

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Trump EPA Plan to Gut Emission Rules for Oil and Gas Industry Denounced as ‘Beyond Comprehension’

“If Trump is reelected and this rule sticks, it is probably the single most consequential near-term climate decision of his presidency.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-11-2020

Methane flare. Photo: GlobalChange.gov

In a move one green group said shows the Trump EPA’s approach is “manifestly inconsistent with the agency’s legal obligations” and with science, the agency is under fire for preparations to roll back methane rules for U.S. oil and gas producers.

Before Friday, the New York Times reported, the EPA is expected to unveil two new rules regarding methane, a greenhouse gas with 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide in the first two decades after emission. Continue reading

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Thousands of Activists Stage Protests at Three German Coal Mines to Demand Bolder Climate Policies

“We’re at a critical moment—the window of opportunity to stop the climate crisis is closing rapidly.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-30-2019

Climate activists protests at three coal mines in Germany Saturday. (Photo: Ende Gelände/Twitter)

On the heels of Friday’s global youth-led climate strike, thousands of activists staged demonstrations at three coal mines in Germany Saturday to protest the government’s plan to phase out coal by 2038, which activists say isn’t soon enough.

The German news agency dpa reported that “protesters ran into the Jänschwalde and Welzow-Süd open-cast mining sites in the eastern state of Brandenburg, as well as the United Schleenhain lignite mining area in neighboring Saxony.” Continue reading

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Climate Expert Says UN Emissions Report Makes Clear Only Solution Is to ‘Cut Off Supply of Fossil Fuels at Their Source’

“Climate policy proposals that do not squarely confront the issue of supply are not making a serious attempt to avert catastrophe.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-26-2019

“The urgent, necessary solution is to stop the supply of fossil fuels by banning fracking and all other forms of fossil fuel drilling,” says climate campaigner Mitch Jones. (Photo: CGP Grey/Flickr/cc)

An annual United Nations report published Tuesday on current and estimated future greenhouse gas emissions shows the “urgent need for supply-side action” to combat the climate emergency, according to the advocacy group Food & Water Action.

Mitch Jones, director of Food & Water Action’s Climate & Energy Program, released a statement responding to the new Emissions Gap report from the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), which warned that global temperatures are on track to rise as much as 3.9°C by the end of the century. Continue reading

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Emperor Penguins could march to extinction if nations fail to halt climate change

Emperor Penguin in Antarctica. Stephanie Jenouvrier, CC BY-ND

Stephanie Jenouvrier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The concept of a canary in a coal mine – a sensitive species that provides an alert to danger – originated with British miners, who carried actual canaries underground through the mid-1980s to detect the presence of deadly carbon monoxide gas. Today another bird, the Emperor Penguin, is providing a similar warning about the planetary effects of burning fossil fuels.

As a seabird ecologist, I develop mathematical models to understand and predict how seabirds respond to environmental change. My research integrates many areas of science, including the expertise of climatologists, to improve our ability to anticipate future ecological consequences of climate change. Continue reading

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UN Climate Report on Oceans, Frozen Regions Warns ‘Unprecedented Transitions in All Aspects of Society’ Needed to Sustain Life on Earth

Describing scientists’ latest warnings as “chilling and compelling,” environmentalists called for “enacting radical policies” that protect marine ecosystems and fully phase out fossil fuels.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-25-2019

An iceberg floats in Disko Bay, near Ilulissat, Greenland, on July 24, 2015. (Photo: Saskia Madlener/NASA/Flickr/cc)

A landmark United Nations climate report published Wednesday details the observed and anticipated future impacts of planet-heating emissions from human activity on the world’s oceans and frozen zones—and warns of the emerging consequences for humanity, marine ecosystems, and the global environment.

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) is a product of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N. body that assesses the latest science related to the human-caused climate crisis. It follows recent IPCC reports on the consequences of 1.5°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels and the necessity of reforming land use practices worldwide. Continue reading

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To Stave Off ‘Climate Disaster,’ 29 States and Major Cities Sue Trump EPA Over ‘Dirty Power’ Rule

“President Trump’s attempt to gut our nation’s Clean Power Plan is foolish. It’s also unlawful.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-13-2019

Xcel Energy’s Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, near Becker, Minnesota. Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia/CC

A coalition of 22 states and seven major American cities sued the Trump administration Tuesday over its repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and a replacement that critics have dubbed the “Dirty Power” rule.

The lawsuit (pdf), filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, targets the administration’s so-called Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which eases restrictions on coal plants imposed by the Obama plan, the first national policy to limit power plants’ carbon emissions. Continue reading

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In Ruling on Coal Mining, Federal Judge Issues Latest Rebuke of Trump’s Attack on Public Lands

About 40 federal rulings have now blocked the president from rolling back environmental and public health regulations

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-20-2019

 

“This is a victory for communities whose land, water, and way of life is threatened by new coal mining,” Earthjustice said of a federal ruling against the president’s attempt to open up coal mining on public lands. (Photo: Maria Gunnoe Flight, courtesy of southwings.org)

Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.

Judge Brian Morris issued a ruling late Friday stating that the Interior Department broke federal law when it lifted former President Barack Obama’s moratorium on coal mining in public lands. Continue reading

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