Purges of EPA science panels by Administrator Scott Pruitt are just one among many moves in an ongoing dispute over the integrity of the environmental sciences in government policymaking. The latest Issue Backgrounder takes a deep dive with a briefing on five likely battles ahead for the coming year.
"A U.S. regulator’s preliminary investigation into the biggest oil pipeline spill this year has raised a red flag that could trigger an extensive and costly inspection of tens of thousands of miles of underground energy lines."
"These energy islands are keeping electricity flowing in emergencies and helping integrate wind and solar. They're keystones to a modern electric grid."
"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."
"The National Mall will soon have something new: rats on birth control."
"As firefighters fought to control deadly wildfires north of San Francisco last month, a small unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google had a more modest goal. It had employees driving cars around loaded with air-monitoring equipment to measure how badly the smoke was polluting the air."
"A pivotal EPA study provided the rationale for exemptions that helped unleash the fracking boom. The science was suppressed to protect industry interests."
"Elon Musk has always dreamed big, and tonight he showed off his biggest reverie yet: the fully electric Tesla Semi. Powered by a massive battery and capable of hauling 80,000 pounds, it can ramble 500 miles between charges. It’ll even drive itself—on the highway, at least."
"In a paper released Thursday, 26 scientists, including four laboratory directors at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, unveiled a blueprint for the [climate] observing network of the future. It calls for a coordinated and expanded observing network that is focused on answering key scientific questions that respond to the needs of society and that leverages emerging technology."
"A group of Democrats representing western states has sent a letter to White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney urging the Trump administration to include funding for an earthquake early-warning system in the fiscal 2018 budget."