Republican Who Led EPA Urges
Confronting Trump on Climate
William K. Reilly, who was head of the EPA under President George H.W. Bush, is blunt in his assessment of the climate change deniers and anti-regulatory hawks
William K. Reilly
who have been nominated to fill many of President-elect Donald Trump’s top environmental posts. Reilly, a Republican, looks with special alarm on Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominated to run the EPA. “For a prospective EPA administrator to doubt or even contest a conclusion that 11 national academies of science have embraced is willful political obstruction,” says Reilly. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Reilly discusses how Trump administration threats to cut funding for NASA climate change research represent a “reckless head-in-the-sand posture,” explains why he believes former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson may turn out to be one of the more enlightened environmental voices in the new administration, and urges EPA employees to stay and fight for the environment. “I would not advocate that committed people leave,” says Reilly. “We need them now more than ever.”
Read the interview.
Danish scientists say that a sheltered bay in southern Denmark may hold the world record for carbon storage
Thurøbund Bay in Southern Denmark.
because of its abundant seagrass meadows, which sequester carbon extremely efficiently. Reporting in the journal Biogeosciences
, the scientists said that CO2 absorption by eelgrass in Thurøbund Bay has resulted in the bay storing 27,000 grams of carbon per square meter, more than twice as much as other efficient carbon-storing ecosystems worldwide. A key reason for Thurøbund’s impressive carbon storage is that once seagrasses die in its sheltered waters, they are buried in the bay’s sediments, locking up the carbon. By contrast, many of the nine other Baltic Sea sites studied by the scientists were in exposed coastal areas, which means that dead grasses are carried out to sea and often not buried in sediment. The importance of “blue carbon” storage in coastal waters is gaining increasing attention, with international programs now paying local residents to replant
sea grasses, mangroves, and other shallow-water plants.
Interview: In Costa Rica, Momentum
Builds for a Clean-Energy Economy
Costa Rica has an impressive track record when it comes to renewable energy. The country, famous for its ecotourism industry, produces almost all of its electricity
from renewable sources. But Monica Araya wants her nation to go even greener. Araya, the founder and director of Costa Rica Limpia — a citizen’s group that promotes renewable energy — is now pushing for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Costa Rica, all part of a vision of making her country one of the world’s first carbon-neutral nations. In an interview with Yale Environment 360
, Araya describes how the fledgling effort to decarbonize Costa Rica’s transportation sector has encountered government resistance, and she urges clean-energy advocates worldwide to intensify their efforts, despite the pro-fossil fuel stance of the incoming Trump administration. “If the U.S. doesn't want to be part of the game, the game is going to continue,” says Araya. “Clean energy's going to continue. Electric mobility is going to continue... Costa Rica's going to move forward.”
Read the interview.
The first large-scale power plant in the U.S. that removes and stores carbon dioxide from coal combustion is now fully operating
near Houston, Texas, capturing more than 1 million tons of CO2 annually. Operated by NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp., the Petra Nova plant
— which cost more than $1 billion — extracts carbon dioxide from flue gases and then pipes them to the West Ranch oil field 80 miles away, where the CO2 helps extract additional oil from the ground. The U.S. Department of Energy, which provided $190 million in grants to the plant, called the facility “the world’s largest post-combustion carbon-capture system.” A second large carbon-capture plant is set to become operational in Mississippi by the end of the month. The Kemper Power Plant is designed to turn lignite, a type of coal, into a gas called syngas, removing some of the CO2 before the syngas is burned to generate electricity.
From Obama’s Chief Scientist,
Parting Words of Caution on Climate
John Holdren is the longest-serving presidential science adviser in U.S. history and probably one of the most influential,
having advised President Obama on key energy issues for the last eight years. A physicist by training, Holdren was among the chief architects of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan. The plan has been lauded by environmentalists, but is loathed by conservative politicians, some of whom have filed suit against it. Holdren spoke with Yale e360
contributing writer Elizabeth Kolbert about the difference between “dangerous” and “catastrophic” warming, the incoming Trump administration, and how to talk to people who deny the existence of climate change. “Part of the reason that I retain some optimism about the future is that there are these fundamental forces pushing us toward doing the right thing,” he said.
Read the interview.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has placed the rusty patched bumble bee, once common in 28 states and two Canadian provinces, on the endangered species list, the first bee
to receive such protection
A rusty patched bumble bee in Wisconsin.
in the contiguous 48 states. Populations of the bee, which thrived in the grasslands and prairies of the upper Midwest and Northeast, have plummeted by 87 percent in recent decades, leaving scattered populations in 13 states and one Canadian province. The Fish & Wildlife Service said that without protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, the rusty patched bumble bee faces extinction. Scientists say the bee’s numbers have fallen sharply because of loss of habitat, disease and parasites, pesticide use, and a changing climate that affects the abundance of the flowers the bees depend upon. The service said it will work with state and local partners to restore habitat and take other steps to rebuild populations of the bee, a pollinator important to many crops and plants.
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Yale School of Forestry
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Yale Environment 360
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Business & Innovation
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Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.