Seeds of Commerce: Saving Native Plants in the Heart of Appalachia

Read the full story at Yale Environment 360.

In southern Appalachia, botanist Joe-Ann McCoy is collecting the seeds of thousands of native plant species threatened by climate change. But in this job-scarce region, she also hopes to attract an herbal products company to cultivate the area’s medicinal plants.

Climate scientists face harassment, threats and fears of ‘McCarthyist attacks’

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Threats and badgering of climate scientists peaked after the theft and release of the “Climategate” emails – a 2009 scandal that was painfully thin on scandal. But the organized effort to pry open cracks in the overwhelming edifice of proof that humans are slowly baking the planet never went away. Scientists are now concerned that the election of Donald Trump has revitalized those who believe climate researchers are cosseted fraudsters.

Smog In Western U.S. Starts Out As Pollution In Asia, Researchers Say

Read the full story from NPR.

The U.S. is producing less air pollution — but smog levels are still rising in the western U.S., due to pollutants released in Asian countries that then drift over the Pacific Ocean. Researchers say their findings show the importance of a global approach to preserving air quality.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Brings Back Lead Ammo In Parks And Refuges

Read the full story in the Huffington Post.

As the internet freaked out over Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke riding a horse to his first day on the new job Thursday, environmental activists expressed outrage over one of his first actions: overturning a federal ban on hunting with lead ammunition in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3346, which repeals a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directive the Obama administration issued the day before President Donald Trump took office barring the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle in national parks and wildlife refuges. Zinke also signed an order to expand hunting, fishing and recreation access on federal lands.

For a better understanding of the problem, see Lead Bullet Risks for Wildlife & Humans. For lead-free options, see Army’s eco-friendly quest breeds more deadly bullet.

European Climate Action Faces Crucial Moment

Read the full story at Climate Central.

At a key moment for the planet, one of the world’s earliest champions of climate action is balking at reforming a dysfunctional carbon market. Tweaks have been proposed instead — minor changes that would fail to limit greenhouse gas pollution.

New EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Is Balking at Trump’s Big Budget Cuts

Read the full story from The Fiscal Times.

It was no surprise that former Environmental Protection Agency director Gina McCarthy reacted with shock and outrage to reports that the Trump administration budget office had proposed slashing her former agency’s budget by 25 per cent, jettisoning scores of vital environmental quality programs and climate change research in the process.

“I think people have to realize that this budget proposal that is being put on the table would take staffing levels at EPA down to where they were 40 years ago,” she said Wednesday on MSNBC. “This is really not about [Trump administration disagreement] on climate anymore. This is an attack on the agency.”

More remarkable was the response of Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general and long-time foe of EPA policies who was brought in by President Trump to run the EPA and preside over the dismantling of many of its most controversial programs, especially those designed to reduce industrial carbon emissions that directly contribute to global warming.

California Regulators Worry They’re Not Prepared for Energy-Use Surge From Legal Marijuana Growing

Read the full story at GreenTech Media.

With the passage of California’s Proposition 64 in November, recreational use of marijuana in the state is now legal. So does that mean new pot-growing farms, which often use power-hungry lights and cooling systems inside sprawling warehouses, will start plugging into the power grid and boost electricity use all over the state?

At this point, it’s not entirely clear how the passage of Prop 64 will change weed farming energy use in California. It is clear that the marijuana industry is severely lacking in important data, best practices, transparency, research and education surrounding energy use, according to a group of marijuana growers, utility executives and industry advocates that convened for a workshop organized by the California Public Utilities Commission this week.

How EPA budget cuts will effect the states — Part 1

As more media outlets begin to discuss how EPA’s proposed budget cuts will effect the states, I’ll begin tracking them. Today, Minnesota, Oregon, and Kentucky weigh in.

What Will It Take To Keep Plastic Out Of The Oceans?

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Something like 9 million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year, and, at current rates, the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. As developing countries expand, they tend to consume more packaged goods while failing to implement adequate collection systems. By 2050, there could be more plastic in the water than fish, according to one estimate.

Forty years after the first recycling symbol appeared, only about 14% of plastic is currently recycled. But by redesigning packaging along circular economy principles, reusing more plastic bags, and by investing in recycling infrastructure, it should be possible to get that number nearer 70%, a new report estimates.

Former EPA scientists to Trump: ‘Evidence does not change when the administration changes’

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Trump administration’s proposal to cut the Environmental Protection Agency is looking dramatic indeed. The plans call for laying off thousands of staff, eliminating entire programs and making deep cuts to the agency’s research office, the Office of Research and Development (ORD), according to recent reporting by The Washington Post.

That’s not to say all of this will happen — or that any of it will. Congress makes the final decisions on funding the government. But it’s a stunning proposal to researchers familiar with the workings of the EPA.

“I think a deep cut would be devastating to the nation’s capacity to do environmental health and ecosystem research,” said Jonathan Samet, a former chair of the agency’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee who is now a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California.

Samet and two other former EPA science officials — Thomas A. Burke, who served as the agency’s science adviser and headed up ORD under President Barack Obama, and Bernard Goldstein, who was EPA’s assistant administrator for research and development under President Ronald Reagan — went even further in a commentary published Wednesday, calling on President Trump to change course and stand up for the agency and science.