Top scientist quits EPA, torches Trump administration’s environmental neglect

August 3, 2017 by  
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A top senior official at the EPA resigned this week with a scathing letter  aimed at Trump and his anti-environmental agenda. Elizabeth Southerland has been with the EPA for over 30 years, and in that time she has battled cancer-causing water contaminants, toxic pollution and a host of other threats to our natural resources. But working under climate deniers Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt is a bridge too far. “Today the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth. The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by man’s activities,” she said in her letter. Southerland isn’t the first scientist to quit to protest the administration’s policies, which has also seen key scientists demoted in an attempt to drive them out of their roles. Southerland is particularly critical of Trump’s oversimplified policy of cutting two regulations for every new one. “Should EPA repeal two existing rules protecting infants from neurotoxins in order to promulgate a new rule protecting adults from a newly discovered liver toxin?” Related: Trump’s EPA moves to kill Obama’s Clean Water Rule Southerland was the director in the Office of Science and Technology. Already eligible for retirement, she cites the need to focus on family as a key decision to quit, in addition to her outrage at the hostile policies pushed by Trump. “[T]he President’s FY18 budget proposes cuts to state and tribal funding as draconian as the cuts to EPA , while at the same time reassigning a number of EPA responsibilities to the states and tribes,” she says in her letter. She also comments on a speech given by the Administrator in which he admonished the EPA for running roughshod over state’s rights. “In fact, EPA has always followed a cooperative federalism approach since most environmental programs are delegated to states and tribes who carry out the majority of monitoring, permitting, inspections, and enforcement actions.” Via Huffington Post Images via Flickr  and Wikimedia

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Top scientist quits EPA, torches Trump administration’s environmental neglect

Trump waives dozens of environmental laws to speed construction of his wall

August 3, 2017 by  
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An anonymous official revealed two weeks ago that Trump intends to decimate the “crown jewel” of the national refuge system in order to build his border wall. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has announced it would disregard dozens of environmental rules in order to rush construction, which could start as soon as January. Workers have already been on site to prepare for building. The government is allowed to waive environmental requirements in order to build infrastructure, including skirting the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. In order to avoid dealing with private land owners, Trump’s wall is slated to start in the Santa Ana refuge, and while building in any refuge would be awful for the environment, the Sant Ana refuge is particularly devastating because it is home to the endangered ocelot, jaguar and jaguarondi. It is also one of the most cherished bird refuges in the US. “The lower Rio Grande is a national treasure for birds,” said Michael J. Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy . Related: “Crown jewel” wildlife refuge to be decimated as Trump starts building border wall Funding for the wall has already been approved by the House and now it is heading to the Senate for approval. It includes a provision for rebuilding the wall in San Diego, which was built just a decade ago. “Replacing the San Diego border wall only a decade after it was built shows that the border wall has always been stupid, ineffective and incredibly expensive,” Brian Segee, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said. “Trump’s border wall would compound this travesty by dividing and destroying more communities, wildlife and wild places.” Meanwhile, one of the most incredible bird watching refuges in the US stands to be split in half by the wall unless the Senate is convinced to kill funding. Via Grist Images via Flickr , Wikimedia and Wikimedia

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Trump waives dozens of environmental laws to speed construction of his wall

Honolulu is the first US city to ban using your phone while crossing the street

July 31, 2017 by  
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Most people think they can walk and text, but statistics prove otherwise. Between 2015 and 2016, for instance, there was a 10 percent spike in pedestrian fatalities in the United States, likely due to the number of people walking while distracted by their phones. It’s because of this that Honolulu, Hawaii, recently passed legislation that targets  texters and other “smartphone zombies” as they step off the curb. On Thursday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the “Distracted Walking Law” which is the first law of its type to be passed in the U.S. Reuters reports that it passed 7-2 earlier this month by the city council. Said Caldwell, “We hold the unfortunate distinction of being a major city with more pedestrians being hit in crosswalks, particularly our seniors, than almost any other city in the country .” The law will go into effect on October 25, at which time the Honolulu Police Department will begin handing out fines. First-time offenders will receive a $15-$35 fine, second time violates within the same year will be fined $35-$75, and those who are caught a third time will be charged $75-$99. People making calls for emergency services are exempt from the ban. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser , police will implement a three-month training and warning period until the law goes into effect. Related: This Clothing Staple Lets You Make Simple Gestures to Send a Text Maureen Vogel, a spokeswoman for the council, applauded the initiative. She said during a phone interview, “ Cell phones are not just pervading our roadways but pervading our sidewalks too.” Opponents, on the other hand, argue that it “infringes on personal freedom and amounts to government overreach.” Nonetheless, it is expected that the law will result in improved public safety — and that is applaudable. Via Reuters Images via Deposit Photos and  Pixabay

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Honolulu is the first US city to ban using your phone while crossing the street

Trump may reverse decision on the Paris climate accord, says French President Macron

July 17, 2017 by  
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When President Trump announced plans to exit the Paris Climate Agreement , the decision drew criticism from US states and nations around the world. Now, it seems the president may be having second thoughts – according to French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump may reverse his previous decision. One of President Trump’s complaints against the Paris accord is that it is “soft” on leading polluters, such as China and India. As a result, Trump perceived it to be a threat to U.S. industry, reports Reuters . The weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) says President Macron is now hopeful the U.S. President will change his mind, however. “(Trump) told me that he would try to find a solution in the coming months,” said Macron, referring to the meetings the two leaders had this past week. We spoke in detail about the things that could make him come back to the Paris accord,” he added. Trump has repeatedly stated that is he is “open to a better deal for the United States ,” therefore he isn’t ruling out all options. Related: Stephen Hawking says Trump’s Paris decision could induce irreversible climate change Only a handful of countries around the world have refused to partake in the Paris Climate Agreement. Otherwise, over 200 nations have agreed to limit global warming by 2 degrees by the year 2100, mainly through pledges to cut carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels . Costa Rica is one nation proving it is possible to thrive on renewable energy. In 2015, the tropical country relied on hydropower, geothermal plants, solar and wind to obtain 99 percent of its electricity . Germany, as well, recently generated 85 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Clearly, the future is green. The question now is, will the United States recognize this and re-commit itself to preserving the environment? Via Reuters Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Commons

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Trump may reverse decision on the Paris climate accord, says French President Macron

46 Republicans join Democrats to protect climate change language

July 14, 2017 by  
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Bipartisanship feels increasingly rare in the United States today, but a recent House of Representatives vote shows it isn’t dead yet. 46 Republicans aligned with Democrats on a vote over language about climate change in defense policy legislation , tipping the vote against an amendment that would have removed the language. It’s a small step, but one advocates hope points to shifting opinions on climate change among Republicans. Representative Scott Perry, a Republican of Pennsylvania, put forward an amendment that would have stripped defense policy legislation of language saying climate change is a direct threat to national security . The legislation in question also requires new analysis from the Department of Defense on climate change’s potential impact on the military . Perry’s amendment would have taken out the language calling for the analysis. Related: Cities rebel against Trump by posting climate data his EPA took down But almost 50 Republicans didn’t agree. The final vote was 185 to 234 . Of the Democrats who voted, all voted against the amendment. 14 representatives, a mixture of Republicans and Democrats, did not vote. During floor debate Perry, who is an Army veteran, said climate change shouldn’t be a priority for military commanders facing threats like North Korea or Islamist extremism, saying, “Literally litanies of other federal agencies deal with environmental issues including climate change.” He also said lawmakers shouldn’t decide the commanders’ priorities. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican of Florida, said policymakers should be “clear-eyed” about climate change. She pointed to sea level rise as a potential threat for military installations. And Elise Stefanik, a Republican of New York, said “we would be remiss in our efforts to protect our national security” by not considering climate change’s impact on the military. Republicans from both red and blue states opposed Perry’s legislation, including representatives from Louisiana, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Via Axios Images via Phil Roeder on Flickr and Molly Adams on Flickr

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46 Republicans join Democrats to protect climate change language

This shipping container hotel is so cool you’ll forget its a shipping container

July 14, 2017 by  
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Although building with shipping containers isn’t as avant-garde as it used to be, there are still some stunning designs that make us weep with joy. Built by Australian firm, Contained , this 20-foot shipping container has been converted into an ultra-sophisticated hotel room that can be easily folded up and shipped virtually anywhere in the world. Contained specializes in repurposing old shipping containers into sophisticated lodgings that, on top of being breathtakingly gorgeous, are also portable. Designed with transportation in mind, the structures are strategically outfitted to easily set up and unfold. The individual structures can be shipped virtually anywhere in the world. Related: This amazing shipping container hotel can pop up anywhere in the world Each unit is equipped with a queen-sized bed, a living room with a sink and bar area, and a bathroom. For outdoor space, guests can enjoy a spacious deck shaded by a fold-out awning. Large glass doors and an abundance of windows soak up daylight and the surrounding scenery. Although portability is a key concept in the renovation of the containers, the design of each individual unit is simply astonishing. The sophisticated and modern interiors give no clue to each building’s former utilitarian background. According to Contained directors Anatoly Mezhov and Irene Polo, their business goal is to create an option for people who’d like to travel in a more sustainable way , but without sacrificing comfort. “There are so many beautiful places to go visit. That’s how this idea was born. Let’s create a portable hotel room that’s beautiful, sustainable, and comfortable for short-term accommodation and activate some of these spaces.” Mezhov says. The company has installed their structures in numerous locations including a Victoria winery, Sydney Harbor, and a wilderness retreat in Queensland. + Contained Via Dwell Photography by Daniel John Bilsborough

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This shipping container hotel is so cool you’ll forget its a shipping container

The UN just passed a historic treaty banning nuclear weapons worldwide

July 10, 2017 by  
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Could world peace be on the horizon? Last Friday the United Nations passed a total ban on nuclear weapons in an attempt to prevent WWIII from breaking out. The 10-page document, entitled Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons , was inspired after the U.N. reopened discussion of a global nuclear ban in March of 2017, prompting 2,500 scientists from 7 countries to sign a petition urging nuclear disarmament. Now that the first-of-its-kind ban has passed, some are optimistic for a world in which the threat of nuclear war no longer exists. In a press briefing last Thursday, U.N. conference president Elayne Whyte Gomez said, “We are on the verge of adopting the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons . She added, “This will be a historic moment and it will be the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty to be concluded in more than 20 years. The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years.” TIME reports that more than 120 countries are prepared to adopt the treaty. The United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea, on the other hand, are boycotting the initiative – supposedly because they are armed with nuclear weapons. In fact, the handful of countries has suggested strengthening the nearly 50-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty which gives only the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China (the five original nuclear powers) the right to keep their destructive arsenal. Related: Climate change threat is as serious as nuclear war, UK minister warns Despite this, 122 member states voted in favor of negotiating “a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.” North Korea was the only nation that did not participate in the voting. Singapore abstained, the Netherlands voted against the decision and eight other nations voted yes . In a joint statement , the U.S., Britain, and France wrote: “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.” The three countries explained, “a purported ban on nuclear weapons that does not address the security concerns that continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary cannot result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon and will not enhance any country’s security, nor international peace and security.” Though the nuclear disarmament is controversial, Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, is certain nuclear weapons need to be banned to preserve life and ensure a habitable planet for future generations. She said , “If the world comes together in support of a nuclear ban, then nuclear weapons countries will likely follow suit, even if it doesn’t happen right away.” Via TIME , Futurism Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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The UN just passed a historic treaty banning nuclear weapons worldwide

Federal court stunts EPA plans to suspend methane emissions rule

July 4, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump in February instructed cabinet members “to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people,” and it appears Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has taken that to mean attack the environment and public health . He attempted to suspend a rule put in place under President Barack Obama to regulate methane emissions from new gas and oil wells. But now a federal appeals court has dealt Pruitt and Trump a blow. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled yesterday that the EPA can’t suspend the Obama-era rule. In a two to one decision, the court said under the Clean Air Act , the EPA doesn’t have the authority to obstruct the rule. Pruitt had placed a 90-day moratorium on enforcing portions of the methane rule – and then stretched that moratorium to two years. He also said his move wasn’t subject to court review. But the federal appeals court called his decision unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious. Related: In surprise vote, Senate keeps Obama’s methane rules in place Judges Robert Wilkins and David Tatel said, “EPA’s stay, in other words, is essentially an order delaying the rule’s effective date, and this court has held that such orders are tantamount to amending or revoking a rule.” Pruitt’s efforts to foment climate change as much as he can haven’t been put to a full stop. The court did say the EPA does have the right to reverse the rule – but will have to go through a new rule-making process to get there. When it comes to greenhouse gases, methane is 25 more times powerful than carbon dioxide , according to The New York Times. American Petroleum Institute spokesperson Reid Porter said 2012 standards had already done some work in cutting methane emissions. In a statement he said, “A stay is needed to allow for regulatory certainty as EPA continues the formal process to review the rule making.” Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp took a different view, saying, “The court’s decision ends the continued pollution by the oil and gas industry that’s been illegally allowed by Pruitt.” Via The New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons and Ken Doerr on Flickr

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Federal court stunts EPA plans to suspend methane emissions rule

These mind-blowing gigantic flower cakes will make your mouth water

July 4, 2017 by  
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These incredible cakes shaped like gigantic flowers and bursting bouquets show just how delightful vegan treats can be. Berlin-based pastry chef Juliana Tar of Culinary Dots creates mind-blowing cakes that are free from dairy, flour and sugar – and the results are every bit as delectable as they are visually stunning. Tar creates her flower-inspired vegan creations – which are free from flour, sugar, dairy, preservatives and dyes – using nuts and raw fruits such as dates, figs, and plums. Her homemade blend of nut, avocado, and coconut cream are used for each cake’s filling, and the colorful toppings are made out of raw marzipan, edible flowers, fruit, and coconut shavings. Related: These incredibly lifelike succulent cakes will blow your mind The talented pastry chef has been honing her craft for over 15 years, selling her sweet, flowery creations at street food markets, local cafes, and online. You can check out her work as well as her recipes at the Culinary Dots Instagram page . + Culinary Dots Via Fubiz

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These mind-blowing gigantic flower cakes will make your mouth water

Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO before denying pesticide ban

June 28, 2017 by  
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If anyone is still hoping the Donald Trump administration will put the environment before industries, new reports should put that to rest. Back in March the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided they wouldn’t ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos , a big cash cow for Dow Chemical that’s also been shown to harm children’s brains in health studies, including an EPA review. But apparently there was no chance the EPA would prioritize children above businesses. The Associated Press (AP) recently learned EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met privately with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris shortly before the decision to not ban the pesticide . Polluting industries champion Pruitt met with Liveris on March 9 for around half an hour in Houston, according to Pruitt’s schedule. EPA spokesperson Liz Bowman said they were “briefly introduced” and did not talk about chlorpyrifos. But 20 days later the EPA announced they wouldn’t ban that brain development-interfering pesticide after all. Related: Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers Scientists have repeatedly shown chlorpyrifos can have a negative impact on child brain development, according to Gizmodo. EPA scientists also said even in small doses the chemical can interfere with child brain development – and they also said levels of the chemical found in food were higher than what would be deemed safe. As if that wasn’t enough, federal scientists found chlorpyrifos – along with two other chemicals Dow manufactures, diazinon and malathion – are harmful for nearly 1,800 endangered or critically endangered species. And the AP found out lawyers representing Dow and two other pesticide-manufacturing companies sent letters to the EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Department of Commerce requesting they set aside those study results as they were “fundamentally flawed.” In 2016 Dow Chemical spent over $13.6 million on lobbying. They sell around five million pounds of chlorpyrifos in the United States every year. They also donated $1 million for Trump’s inauguration festivities, although Dow’s director of public affairs Rachelle Schikorra told the AP the idea the donation was meant to influence decisions is “completely off the mark.” Guess they gave that $1 million donation out of the goodness of their hearts then. Via the Associated Press ( 1 , 2 ), Gizmodo , and Vanity Fair Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO before denying pesticide ban

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