"Extreme weather left its mark across the planet in 2016, the hottest year in recorded history. Record heat baked Asia and the Arctic. Droughts gripped Brazil and southern Africa. The Great Barrier Reef suffered its worst bleaching event in memory, killing large swaths of coral. Now climate scientists are starting to tease out which of last year’s calamities can, and can’t, be linked to global warming."
Water & Oceans
"Virginia regulators unexpectedly tossed the fate of the Atlantic Coast pipeline project up in the air yesterday, as what was widely expected to be a vote to let the natural gas pipeline proceed instead raised new questions about the project's timing and next steps forward."
"U.S. Steel failed to test a Lake Michigan tributary for highly toxic hexavalent chromium after blue liquid "with visible solids" poured out of one of the company's northwest Indiana plants in late October, according to documents posted online Tuesday by state regulators."
Almost a dozen investigations are underway at the U.S. EPA and the Interior Department, including of unusual travel, private sector connections and staff/advisory panel moves. This week's TipSheet runs down the probes in detail, and offers resources for coverage of developments in 2018.
"When environmentalists press for the removal of river-choking old dams, George Howard can smell the money."
"The National Flood Insurance Program, designed to protect Americans from catastrophic floods, has failed in almost every way, encouraging people to buy and build in flood-prone areas while increasing the cost and magnitude of disasters."
"Much of the attention to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's review of national monuments has focused on sites across the West, but recommendations he made to President Trump show that a trio of marine monuments could also see significant changes. In a report Interior released yesterday, Zinke advised that commercial fishing be introduced to three ocean sites: Rose Atoll, Pacific Remote Islands, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monuments."
"More than 200 countries signed a U.N. resolution in Nairobi on Wednesday to eliminate plastic pollution in the sea, a move some delegates hoped would pave the way to a legally binding treaty."
"Leslie Martinez heard the floodwaters before she saw them. ... After all, Ms. Martinez recalled, the home builder had assured her that 'flooding was not even a possibility' when she and her husband purchased the house in this suburban enclave north of Houston in 2011. They would never have bought here otherwise. Flood insurance, of course, was neither required nor needed."
"Blue whales, grays and humpbacks are traveling south along the California coast this month to their annual breeding grounds in warm Mexican waters. They feed in the same waters where cargo ships travel to some of the world’s busiest ports — and one strike could be deadly."