Backgrounders

EPA To Propose Plan Soon for First PFAS Drinking Water Rule

Plans are nearing for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate PFAS in drinking water — and the complexity around the effort will challenge environmental journalism. In the mix are questions of environmental persistence and health risks, plus thorny politics. Our Issue Backgrounder has guidance on these and more as PFAS regulation hits this critical juncture.

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COP 27 Egypt — From Afar, How UN Meeting Will Affect Climate Change Reporting

How will the UN’s yearly climate treaty talks in Egypt next month touch domestic U.S. reporting? The latest Backgrounder has an outlook, with close attention to the question of compensation for nations suffering the worst impacts of global warming, plus the politics of war and energy, methane and HFCs. The prospects for action in and after Egypt.

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Will Congress Pass Manchin’s Energy Permitting 'Side Deal'?

In the fine print of the historic Biden climate bill is a controversial commitment to pass legislation on fossil fuel permitting, a measure deeply opposed by the environmental community and calling for heavy political muscle to move through Congress this month. Issue Backgrounder details what’s in it, and what’s not, and takes the measure of the measure’s prospects.

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WTO Deal on Fishing Subsidies May Reduce Ocean Overfishing

A new World Trade Organization agreement to limit global overfishing may yield important stories for environmental journalists, as billions of people around the world rely on already heavily exploited fish stocks as their main source of protein. This Backgrounder offers details on the pact and how it tries to address the problem, while providing resources for your reporting.

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Supreme Court Winds Up for Another Swing at Clean Water Act

In a second Issue Backgrounder looking at major environmental questions before the U.S. Supreme Court, SEJournal considers the long-standing controversy about the definition of “waters of the United States.” The Clean Water Act case, which the high court could (re)decide during its next term, would have profound environmental and economic implications. The latest Backgrounder wades into the issue.

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Climate Change Action May Depend on Supreme Court

A milestone legal challenge soon to be decided by the U.S. high court could severely limit how the U.S. government regulates the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. The new Issue Backgrounder takes a look at West Virginia v. EPA, its legal implications, the politics behind it and what it would mean for efforts to curb future impacts of global warming.

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EPA Moves To Eliminate Asbestos Risk to Human Health, But Its Legacy Remains

A new ban is to be imposed on the last kind of asbestos still imported into the United States for use in commerce. But as the Issue Backgrounder explains, the regulatory back-and-forth over the substance by recent administrations won’t alleviate the biggest U.S. problem, which is the long history of its use in a wide range of building materials and other uses raising ongoing occupational risks.

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Parks and Complications — Planning Stories Around Our Nation’s Green Spaces

As more Americans make their way to the nation’s parks (and every other variety of outdoor locales), big budget bumps may not be enough to tackle a variety of ongoing worries, from overcrowding and climate change impacts to maintenance backlogs and political backlash. The latest Issue Backgrounder looks over the state of our nation’s parks.

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Climate Crisis May Quickly Confront U.S., World With National Security Threats

The climate-security nexus has drawn attention from the Biden administration, but less so elsewhere, even as security experts worry about climate change as a threat multiplier that can exacerbate other causes of conflict. Our new Backgrounder explores these concerns, with a look at how the issue has played out in recent U.S. politics. Plus, seven global regions where climate change may worsen ongoing conflict.

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Hydrogen Rainbow May Dazzle, But Journalists Should Eye It Warily

The hype on hydrogen — and it’s various “hues” or forms — suggests environmental reporters should clearly understand how this energy source is produced, as well as the politics and industry PR behind its claims to be clean and climate-friendly. Our latest Issue Backgrounder provides the basics of hydrogen science, while cautioning about the industry’s “color game.”

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