Trump orders Perry to take steps to curb coal plant shutdowns

June 4, 2018 by  
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It seems President Donald Trump doesn’t want to let coal die. Bloomberg reported he ordered Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to take steps to stem closures of nuclear and coal power plants. An emailed statement from White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders read, “Impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation’s energy mix and impacting the resilience of our power grid .” Coal and nuclear plants are losing money as cheaper renewable energies and natural gas gain steam. Trump’s administration alleges that declines in nuclear and coal power jeopardize America’s security. According to the White House statement, the president told Perry “to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations.” The Department of Energy’s strategy, as detailed in a memo Bloomberg obtained , could be to draw on power given by federal laws to create a “strategic electric generation reserve” and compel grid operators to purchase power from plants that are at risk. The National Security Council was to meet last week to talk over the idea. Related: Biggest grid operator in US attacks Perry’s proposal to prop up coal One purpose of this draft plan, Bloomberg reported, is to buy time for a two-year study probing vulnerabilities in the country’s energy delivery system. Administration officials have already used up a year of this time. Following an Energy Department grid reliability study, Perry suggested a rule that would have compensated nuclear and coal plants — and federal regulators killed the proposal. Major grid operator PJM Interconnection said in a statement its grid “is more reliable than ever” and “there is no such need for any such drastic action.” The company said it has analyzed planned deactivations of nuclear stations and found no immediate threat to reliability. PJM said, “Any federal intervention in the market to order customers to buy electricity from specific power plants would be damaging to the markets and therefore costly to consumers.” Electric Power Supply Association president John Shelk said, “National security is being invoked by people who once favored markets. Everybody loses in a fuels war.” Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Trump orders Perry to take steps to curb coal plant shutdowns

EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars

April 2, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to undo Obama -era greenhouse gas emission regulations and fuel economy standards that were designed to encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient vehicles. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt will likely describe the move as a necessary lifting of burdensome regulations on automakers and to support the production of cheaper vehicles, but it doesn’t account for the costs of increased air pollution and continued climate change. Left in place, the rules would have reduced oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels while reducing carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of vehicles produced under the regulations. The rules that are set to be rolled back under the Trump Administration were created in 2012 as one of President Obama’s major initiatives to combat climate change . If allowed to be fully implemented, the rules would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Some worry that the United States ‘s decision to step away from stricter emissions standards could set a dangerous precedent around the world. “The concern is that automakers will go around the world basically trying to lobby regulators, saying, look, because the United States has reduced the pace, everywhere else should too,” Anup Bandivadekar, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, told the New York Times . Related: Congress rejects Trump’s renewable energy budget cuts While American automakers had initially lobbied the Trump Administration for more relaxed standards, they did not expect to see a complete repeal of the rules. “We didn’t ask for that,” claimed Robert Bienenfeld , assistant vice president for environment and energy strategy at American Honda Motor. “The position we outlined was sensible.” In a blog post, Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett wrote that “we support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.” The relaxed standards proposed by automakers were viewed as less likely to cause a showdown with California and the dozen other states that follow its lead on strict environmental standards. Now, California is preparing for battle. “We’re going to defend first and foremost existing federal greenhouse gas standards,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told the New York Times . “We’re defending them because they’re good for the entire nation. No one should think it’s easy to undo something that’s been not just good for the country, but good for the planet .” Via the New York Times Images via Depositphotos  and the White House

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EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars

"Have to have see-through," says Trump of border wall

March 14, 2018 by  
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President Donald Trump stopped in Otay Mesa during his trip to California to inspect eight prototypes of the potential border wall . His feedback? “You have to have see-through,” Trump told reporters, according to CBS Los Angeles . “You have to know what’s on the other side of the wall. You could be two feet away from a criminal cartel and you don’t even know they’re there.” If we don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. Congress must fund the BORDER WALL & prohibit grants to sanctuary jurisdictions that threaten the security of our country & the people of our country. We must enforce our laws & protect our people! #BuildTheWall pic.twitter.com/NGqNueukvj — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018 Trump examined 30-foot border wall prototypes during his first trip to California since he won the election. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported he preferred a combination of a see-through wall topped with steel or rounded concrete to make it harder for climbers to scale. Archinect said there were solid, opaque options as well as four other materials, non-concrete prototypes Trump appeared to favor. Related: Artists are turning the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the world’s longest peace-themed mural The president said, “If you don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. There’s a lot of problems in Mexico , they have the cartels. We’re fighting the cartels, we’re fighting them hard.” Trump also addressed criticism about the border wall from California’s governor, Jerry Brown , saying he thinks the governor “has done a very poor job running California” and “the place is totally out of control.” “You have sanctuary cities where you have criminals living in the sanctuary cities,” he said. Brown responded on Twitter , saying bridges are better than walls. ? Thanks for the shout-out, @realDonaldTrump . But bridges are still better than walls. And California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America. #Facts — Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) March 13, 2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune said hordes of both supporters and critics gathered throughout San Diego, and people were largely peaceful, but for shouting insults at the other side, and a Mexican flag was torn and almost burned. CBS Los Angeles said people peacefully protested Trump’s visit, chanting, “No ban! No wall!” Via CBS Los Angeles , The San Diego Union-Tribune , and Archinect Image via U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Flickr

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"Have to have see-through," says Trump of border wall

Studio Gang unveils plans to renovate and expand the Arkansas Arts Center

March 14, 2018 by  
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Studio Gang just unveiled plans for a new project that will strengthen the connections between different spaces at the Arkansas Arts Center . The plan comprises a series of glazed pavilions with pleated roofs, and it will refurbish the existing exhibition , education and performance facilities. Studio Gang collaborated with landscape architect Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture to deliver a design will increase visitor services by 81 percent, exhibitions and collections management by 25 percent, and education, public programs and the Museum School by 50 percent. The scheme will give a highly visible architectural identity to the Arts Center and reorganize the current program and architectural envelope. Related: Studio Gang is Transforming a Dirty Coal Power Plant Into a Green Arts College Studio Gang designed a pleated, organic building that connects the new north-facing city entrance with a glass pavilion and south-facing park entrance. An open axis public gallery runs through the building, connecting the various components of the AAC. “Starting from the inside out, the design clarifies the organization of the building and extends its presence into MacArthur Park and out to Crescent Lawn,” said Gang. “By doing so, the Center becomes a vibrant place for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts.” New public plazas and gardens at the north and south entrances of the center will foster stronger connections with the park. Planted groves along the west side of the building will create a forested edge that blends into the park. A framework of new trees will, over time, merge with the existing canopy to form a forest park. + Studio Gang + SCAPE Landscape Architecture

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Studio Gang unveils plans to renovate and expand the Arkansas Arts Center

Trump fails to evade climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youths

March 8, 2018 by  
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21 young people have been taking on the United States government over climate change in the lawsuit Juliana v. U.S. since 2015, and President Donald Trump failed at attempts to dodge them. The plaintiffs just won a victory: the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the case can indeed move towards a trial, Bloomberg reported . 21-year-old plaintiff Kiran Oommen said in a statement , “The question of the last few years has not been ‘do we have a case’ but rather ‘how far will the federal government go to prevent justice.’ We have seen that they are willing to go to many lengths to cover up their crimes and maintain the status quo, but not even the Trump administration can go far enough to escape the inevitable tide of social progress.” Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump administration’s “drastic and extraordinary” petition for writ of mandamus in the landmark climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, brought by 21 youth supported by Our Children’s Trust. The Court ruled that the Juliana case can proceed toward trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon and that the Trump administration had not satisfied the factors necessary for an extraordinary writ of mandamus. #youthvgov A post shared by Our Children's Trust (@youthvgov) on Mar 7, 2018 at 12:13pm PST The 21 plaintiffs — mostly teenagers , according to Bloomberg — say the government, in backing a climate change-inducing energy system, has violated their rights to property, liberty, and life, and hasn’t protected vital public trust resources. Barack Obama’s administration first attempted to extinguish the case in 2016, according to Bloomberg, and the Trump administration said the case is based on “utterly unprecedented legal theories.” Bloomberg said they utilized a rare procedural maneuver to contend a federal judge overstepped her authority — in 2016, she refused to dismiss this case. But the three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit was unanimous, deciding the issues the federal government raised are “better addressed through the ordinary course of litigation.” Jacob made a sign, had his photo taken with his sign, & now it's posted online. Be like Jacob. #youthvgov A post shared by Our Children's Trust (@youthvgov) on Feb 6, 2017 at 3:05pm PST Related: Trump tries to keep 21 kids’ climate change lawsuit from going to trial Julia Olson, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust , one of the organizations supporting the kids, said the Ninth Circuit’s move signaled a “green light for trial.” She said they’ll ask for a trial date in 2018. The question of the last few years has not been “do we have a case” but rather “how far will the federal government go to prevent justice.” We have seen that they are willing to go to many lengths to cover up their crimes and maintain the status quo, but not even the Trump administration can go far enough to escape the inevitable tide of social progress. The Ninth Circuit’s decision affirms that we are on the side of justice, and for justice we are moving forward. #seeyouincourt #youthvgov #julianavsus #ourchildrenstrust A post shared by Kiran Oommen (@kiran_oommen) on Mar 7, 2018 at 1:20pm PST Oommen summed it up this way: “We’ll see you in court.” + Our Children’s Trust Via Bloomberg Image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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Trump fails to evade climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youths

Trump budget proposes huge cut to EPA and climate research

February 14, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration released its fiscal 2019 budget proposal on February 12, revealing a desire to deeply cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If adopted, the budget would cut the EPA ‘s budget by 23 percent, or more than $2.5 billion, and eliminate nearly all funding for climate change research. The Administration describes a return to the true mission of the EPA by reducing “unnecessary reporting burdens on the regulated community” and ending programs that “create unnecessary redundancies or those that have served their purpose and accomplished their mission.” Environmental groups describe the budget as an effort to dismantle federal environmental protections. “The Trump administration budget released today is a blueprint for a less healthy, more polluted America,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement . “A budget shows your values — and this budget shows the administration doesn’t value clean air , clean water, or protecting Americans from toxic pollution.” Related: Why Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan is a disaster for the environment Specific targets include programs such as water improvement funding for U.S.-Mexico border communities, state funding for radon-detecting initiatives, and efforts to restore the health of large bodies of water, such as Puget Sound , the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. While clearly laying out the administration’s priorities, the budget is not likely to become law. Congress recently passed a two-year bipartisan budget agreement, so Trump’s budget will have to wait its turn. At that point, Congress may have changed parties. Even if the Republicans maintain control in two years, it remains to be seen whether Congress would agree to inflict such draconian cuts onto important federal agencies and programs. Still, the budget is a telling symbol of what this Administration wishes the United States to become. Via The Washington Post Images via The White House/Flickr and U.S. Geological Society/Flickr

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Trump budget proposes huge cut to EPA and climate research

The Nuclear Doomsday Clock is as close to midnight as it has ever been

January 25, 2018 by  
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Today, the world is the closest it has ever been to doomsday since since the nuclear arms race of the ’50s. Scientists and researchers moved the Doomsday clock – an indicator for how close humanity is to nuclear annihilation – to 2 minutes to midnight today. Researchers at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists cited the threat between North Korea and the United States, facilitated by President Trump’s harmful rhetoric, as the main reason for the shift. The closest we have ever been to midnight was in 1953, during the height of the nuclear arms race between the US and the USSR – when it was also 2 minutes to midnight. Last year, the clock ticked to 2.5 minutes to midnight, from an all-time distance of 17 minutes to midnight in 1991. Related: Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon According to concerned scientists, the rhetoric between the leaders of the US and North Korea has gone a long way towards threatening all of humanity. But the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement and denigrating the nuclear deal with Iran has also contributed to the problem. “Divorcing public policy from empirical reality endangers us all. What we need is evidence-based policy making, not policy-based evidence making,” said theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Via CNN Images via Deposit Photos and Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

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The Nuclear Doomsday Clock is as close to midnight as it has ever been

Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

December 1, 2017 by  
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The Trump Administration has signaled its intention to take a significantly tougher approach to trade with China, where most of the world’s solar panels are produced. This stance follows President Trump’s campaign promise to protect American jobs from being outsourced to another country. Due to increasing international competition in the solar industry, at least a dozen solar companies have closed factories in the United States . In response to Chinese domination of the global solar market, the United States had already raised tariffs on solar panels produced in China during the Obama Administration , prompting Chinese solar companies to relocate production to nearby Southeast Asian countries. Now, the Trump Administration may authorize tariffs on all solar panel imports into the United States, potentially raising costs to American consumers of solar power. China’s solar industry has undergone an extraordinary transformation over the past decade. Though its contribution to the global solar industry was once relatively insignificant, China now produces more than two-thirds of the world’s solar panels. This economy of scale has enabled the global prices for solar panels to drop by ninety percent, positively contributing to the world’s shift away from fossil fuels and towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The current conflict in which the Trump Administration seeks to escalate pits American consumers and solar installation companies, which have benefited from cheaper solar panels, and American solar panel producers, which seek to even the playing field with China’s solar industry. Related: Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017 American manufacturers contend that Chinese solar panel production benefits unfairly from state subsidies and low-cost loans backed by government-run banks. These manufacturers “are technically insolvent, but they still get capital,” said Mark Widmar, the chief executive of Phoenix-based First Solar, according to the New York Times . Interfering on behalf of American solar panel manufacturers is not without its risks. If the Trump Administration successfully implements a more expansive tariff system, which could happen as soon as January 2018, it raises the likelihood of retaliation from China and the potential for a broader trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Via the New York Times Images via The White House and Depositphotos

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Trump’s first big brawl with China may center on solar panels

Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

December 1, 2017 by  
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If you thought Microsoft’s awesome treehouse offices were the ultimate step in the tech giant’s efforts to make its employees a top priority, think again. The tech giant just announced that it will be razing its 500-acre Redmond campus in order to construct a sustainable Microsoft mini city, complete with 18 new buildings, a two-acre open plaza , retail space, jogging and walking trails, two soccer fields, a cricket field, and its own light rail station. According to the company, the expansive campus, which will be divided into “team neighborhoods”, will be focused on providing a “more open and less formal” working environment. Inside, the spaces will be filled with social hubs and light-filled offices, but the new layout will be primarily focused on providing plenty of outdoor and recreational space for the employees. Once complete, the campus will have 18 new buildings, offering workspace for the 47,000 employees that currently work on site, as well as extra room for an additional 8,000 people. The Redmond campus is already a Zero Waste Certified campus, but will be renovated with increased waste-reduction initiatives . Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air As part of the green transportation focus, all of the cars will be parked in an underground parking lot, so that above ground, the employees can travel by foot, bike or, eventually, by a light rail system scheduled for completion in 2023. As part of the green transportation focus, a new foot and bike bridge will be built over the WA-520 in order to connect both sides of its campus. This will connect with a planned Redmond Technology Transit Station where the Link Light Rail is expected to arrive in 2023. Microsoft president Brad Smith said the project will run approximately $150m, and expects the rebuild to create 2,500 construction and development jobs.”We are not only creating a world-class work environment to help retain and attract the best and brightest global talent, but also building a campus that our neighbors can enjoy, and that we can build in a fiscally smart way with low environmental impact,” explained Smith in the announcement. + Microsoft blog Via ZD Net Images via Microsoft

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Microsoft is razing its Redmond campus to build a sustainable mini city

Trump administration quietly accepts 2016 climate deal

November 30, 2017 by  
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Will President Donald Trump respect a climate deal finalized while Barack Obama was still president? After pulling the United States out of the 2015 Paris Agreement , and working to undo many of Obama’s climate regulations , the idea seems unbelievable – but it appears Trump’s administration won’t try to back out of the 2016 Kigali Amendment, under which the government would have to limit climate change -contributing refrigerants and coolants known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Last year in Rwanda, delegates struck a deal to mandate countries to phase out the production and use of HFCs. The man-made chemicals “can be thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change,” according to the United Nations Environment Program . And it appears the Trump administration won’t bow out of the deal. Related: This could be the most important climate action in 2016 Judith Garber, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the United States Department of State, said last week in Montreal , “The United States believes the Kigali Amendment represents a pragmatic and balanced approach to phasing down the production and consumption of HFCs, and therefore we support the goals and approach of the Amendment.” She noted America was among the first countries that ratified the Montreal Protocol . But there’s no word yet on when the move could occur for this new amendment. Speaking at the 29th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, Garber said, “There are a number of steps in our domestic process that we would need to complete before reaching a final decision on transmittal of the Kigali Amendment to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent. There is no timeline currently determined for these steps, but we have initiated the process to consider U.S. ratification of the Amendment.” Scientific American said America has taken around two to four years to ratify amendments in the past. 20 countries have already approved the Kigali Amendment, so it’s already achieved the required threshold of support and will go into effect in January 2019. Via Scientific American Images via Depositphotos ( 1 ,

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Trump administration quietly accepts 2016 climate deal

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