Energy, Environment, and Conservation

  • The North American Butterfly Association in the Rio Grande valley is suing the Trump administration over the border wall (The Hill).
  • The federal government has abandoned efforts to use warfarin to poison feral hogs and has turned to sodium nitrate instead, typically used for curing bacon, which turns hog blood thick and brown (Dallas News).
  • A court order in California has requested that the EPA to update its guidelines on toxic lead levels in paints within the next 90 days (New York Times). However, only Congress can force the EPA to act. Earlier this year the EPA denied a court order to place restrictions on the pesticide chlorpyrifos.
  • Although the oil industry accepted the science behind anthropogenic climate change in the late 1970s, corroborated with their own studies, their initial campaign to limit emission regulations has since grown into a coalition of more than 30 think tanks. One of these, the Heartland Institute, is now championing the idea that climate change is “greening the planet” and “increasing crop yields”. Read more for a complete history of climate change misinformation (Inside Climate News).
  • The Supreme Court rejected to hear a case brought by the coal mining company Murray Energy Corp against the EPA. Murray argued that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to submit an analysis of how regulations have impacted employment in coal mining and utilities. The dismissal means the previous 4th Circuit Court ruling, that the Clean Air Act does not require the EPA to write a jobs report, still stands (The Hill).

Federal Agencies

  • Kathleen Hartnett-White’s nomination for the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) was still pending at the end of the first session of the 115th Congress. Without unanimous support of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, she must be re-nominated by the White House and again voted through by Congress in its second 115th session (Union of Concerned Scientists). Hartnett-White is known for touting carbon dioxide as the “gas of life” and for denying that smog can be harmful to public health. Action: call your Senators and tell them to oppose confirmation of Harnett-White.
  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a list of priority missions for earth and space science. The report recommends competitive research lines that investigate hyperspectral satellite imagery, aerosols, ice-sheet melting, and radar detection of earth movement in addition to new missions within the Earth System Explorer such as atmospheric and ocean-surface winds, greenhouse gases, ice elevation, ozone and trace gases, snow depth and amount, and land ecosystems. The report’s influence will depend on both budgetary levels as well as NASA administration’s response (Science Insider).

City of Austin

  • The City of Austin Environmental Commission decided to proceed with voluntary buyouts of land near Onion Creek to mitigate future flooding events (City of Austin Texas).
  • Texas Freedom Network, a nonprofit organization in Austin, is seeking a full-time Office Manager/Administrator (TFN).

Climate Change

  • More frequent cold snaps in the northern hemisphere is possibly associated with the warming of the Arctic ocean, which weakens polar vortex winds and allows cold air to escape to lower latitudes (Inside Climate News).

Science Communication

  • Many essays (including some of our own here and here) have approached the topic of how to converse with people who disagree with you. Here, one author suggests to 1) avoid judgement, 2) understand their motivation, 3) speak to their values, 4) know what you’re talking about and 5) when you’re wrong, 6) stay focused on the issue, 7) don’t preach to the choir, 8) know when to walk away, 9) don’t expect to “win”, and 10) be mindful that people may be watching your conversation (Medium).

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