The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
A federal appeals court on Thursday turned down a request from 27 states to put on hold new regulations that are the central pillar of the Obama administration’s efforts to control global warming pollution.
The states, led by West Virginia and supported by coal and other fossil fuel industries, had asked the court to stay the rules, known as the Clean Power Plan, pending a decision on the merits of their challenge. The rules are intended to sharply reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from existing electric power plants over the next 15 years.
The Obama administration proposed new regulations Friday to cut the amount of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, leaking from fossil fuel facilities on public and tribal lands.
The announcement comes as a massive amount of methane continues to escape from a storage facility in Aliso Canyon, northwest of Los Angeles. It also follows the Interior Department’s decision last week to stop granting new leases for coal mining on public lands.
Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has learned two lessons from her long career in the regulatory martial arts: adversity can be a source of strength, but a sure way to hurt yourself is to build strength without flexibility.
As the jiu-jitsu artist behind the Obama administration’s groundbreaking new rules to control carbon pollution from fossil-fuel power plants being unveiled Monday, McCarthy was determined to emerge from more than two years of legal and technical infighting with final rules that are both stronger and more flexible than the initial proposals.
The Clean Power Plan she produced was stronger in two senses: a little more ambitious in the emission reductions demanded, and better armored against the challenges that they will face in the courts, in Congress, and in the marketplace.
Lawrence Livermore scientists, working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and university colleagues, have found that half of the global ocean heat content increase since 1865 has occurred over the past two decades. “In recent decades the ocean has continued to warm substantially, and with time the warming signal is reaching deeper into the ocean,” said LLNL scientist Peter Gleckler, lead author of a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Scientists at the University of New Mexico conducted research to effectively study carbon emissions through fault systems in the East African Rift (EAR) in an effort to understand carbon emissions from the Earth’s interior and how it affects the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO2) from Earth’s interior is thought to be released into the atmosphere mostly via degassing from active volcanoes. CO2 can also escape along faults away from active volcanic centers. However, such tectonic degassing is poorly constrained, and to date has been largely unmeasured.
Researchers have found clear evidence that communities rich in species are substantially healthier and more productive than those depleted of species, once complicating factors are removed. An international group of scientists led by USGS research ecologist Jim Grace has solved this long-standing ecological riddle using new scientific techniques for analyzing complex data to determine: How do we know that conserving biodiversity is actually important in the real world? “This study shows that you cannot have sustainable, productive ecosystems without maintaining biodiversity in the landscape,” said Grace.
New research led by the University of Colorado Boulder indicates an ongoing loss of ice on Niwot Ridge and the adjacent Green Lakes Valley in the high mountains west of Boulder is likely to progress as the climate continues to warm.
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Photo Credit: Associated Press