With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/23/2017, 10:27am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The Global Seed Vault flooded by melting permafrost; Antarctica is going green, and not in a good way; Switzerland votes to accelerate renewable energy transition; PLUS: Trump's final budget proposal takes a hatchet to the environment... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 2 more leaks found on Dakota Access Pipeline; Rate of sea level rise has tripled since 1990; Senate's Regulatory Review Act is bad for science; No one lives on this remote Pacific island but it’s covered in 38 million pieces of trash; Rural Trump voters fight to keep their land from oil industry eminent domain abuse; States push for stronger oil train rules; Exxoh climate fraud investigation widens over missing Tillerson alias emails... PLUS: Withdrawing from the Paris climate deal could cause ‘lasting damage’ to ties between U.S. and Europe, official warns... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

  • Trump's final budget proposal takes a hatchet to the environment:
    • EPA remains top target with Trump administration proposing 31 percent budget cut (Washington Post):
      Candidate Donald Trump vowed to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency “in almost every form,” leaving only “little tidbits” intact. President Trump is making good on his promise to take a sledgehammer to the agency.
    • Trump Seeks To Sell Off Half Of The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (Washington Post):
      As part of its 2018 budget, the Trump administration is proposing to reduce by half the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a cushion against global price shocks and supply disruptions. The administration said it expects the drawdown to reduce the federal deficit by $16.6 billion, part of a package of deficit reduction measures over the next 10 years.

  • Global Seed Vault entrance flooded by melting permafrost:
    • Welcome to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norway Ministry of Agriculture and Food)
    • Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts (The Guardian UK) [emphasis added]:
      No seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change...“A lot of water went into the start of the tunnel and then it froze to ice, so it was like a glacier when you went in,” she told the Guardian....But the breach has questioned the ability of the vault to survive as a lifeline for humanity if catastrophe strikes. “It was supposed to [operate] without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day,” Aschim said. “We must see what we can do to minimise all the risks and make sure the seed bank can take care of itself.”
    • VIDEO: Precious seeds in Norway's 'Doomsday vault' are safe — for now (USA Today)
    • Norway to boost protection of Arctic seed vault from climate change (BBC):
      "Inside the mountain it's safe but the problems we have experienced are just outside and in the front of the tunnel, which is the entrance. So Yes, maybe something has changed in the permafrost, but we don't know, and that is what the climate researchers are looking into. We have to follow them carefully." The new measures announced include drainage ditches on the mountainside to stop water from accumulating around the access tunnel.

  • Antarctica is going green, and not in a good way:
    • Climate change is turning Antarctica green, say researchers (The Guardian UK):
      In the past 50 years the quantity and rate of plant growth has shot up, says study, suggesting further warming could lead to rapid ecosystem changes....The cores reveal that the warming climate of Antarctica in the past 50 years has spurred on biological activity: the rate of moss growth is now four to five times higher than it was pre-1950.
    • Climate Change Is Turning Antarctica Green (Scientific American):
      “It’s a clear sign that the biological response to climate warming is pervasive around the globe,” he said. “The Antarctic Peninsula is often thought of as a very remote and possibly even untouched region, but this clearly shows that the effects of climate change are felt here.”

  • Switzerland votes to accelerate renewable energy transition:
    • Swiss referendum on renewable energy (Euronews):
      That the new law would help utilities which currently rely on hydro power. Their costs currently exceed wholesale prices in Europe...Under the new law, power from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources would rise to at least 11,400 gigawatt hours by 2035. That is compared to 2,831 now.
    • Swiss voters embrace shift to renewable energy (Reuters):
      Swiss voters backed the government's plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum on Sunday. Provisional final figures showed support at 58.2 percent under the Swiss system of direct democracy, which gives voters final say on major policy issues.
    • Switzerland votes to phase out nuclear energy and switch to renewables (Independent UK)

  • COMMENT NOW: Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996; Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment (Regulations.gov):
    Note: Regulations.gov will undergo scheduled maintenance and will be unavailable Saturday, May 20, from 6:00 am through 6:00 pm (ET).

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page

  • 2 More Leaks Found Along Dakota Access Pipeline (US News):
    The Dakota Access pipeline system leaked more than 100 gallons (380 liters) of oil in two separate incidents in North Dakota in March as crews prepared the pipeline for operation.
  • Scientists say the pace of sea level rise has nearly tripled since 1990 (Washington Post):
    The cause, said Dangendorf, is that sea level rise throughout much of the 20th century was driven by the melting of land-based glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms, but sea level rise in the 21st century has now, on top of that, added in major contributions from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. “The sea level rise is now three times as fast as before 1990,” Dangendorf said.
  • Withdrawing from the Paris climate deal could cause ‘lasting damage’ to ties between U.S. and Europe, official warns (Washington Post):
    “We are not pessimistic or resigned to the fate of the U.S. position,” said one G-7 diplomat close to the process. “We are exploring every way possible to communicate with the U.S. and to express our key interest for the U.S. to stay involved in the climate negotiation process. There are many channels we are utilizing.”
  • 5 Reasons Why the Regulatory Accountability Act is Bad for Science (Union of Concerned Scientists):
    It imposes significant (and new) burdensome requirements on every single federal agency...requires agencies to finalize the most “cost effective” rule...a backdoor attempt to put the interests of regulated industries ahead of the public interest...the Portman RAA weakens the ability of agencies to implement these laws by rewriting the entire process by which safeguards for Americans are enacted.
  • No one lives on this remote Pacific island — but it’s covered in 38 million pieces of our trash (Washington Post):
    Researchers believe that about 3,500 pieces of trash are continuing to wash up there daily, and that Henderson Island now has the highest density of plastic waste in the world, according to a report published Tuesday in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Rural Trump Voters Fight To Keep Their Land From Growing Pipeline Web (McClatchy DC):
    Norm MacQueen would seem to fit the profile of a property owner comfortable with an oil and gas pipeline running through his land. A retired oil refinery employee, MacQueen worked amid risky conditions for more than 20 years, as a pipe fitter and a welder.
  • Interior Politicals Censor Climate Change Language From News Release (Washington Post):
    On Thursday, a group of scientists, including three working for the U.S. Geological Survey, published a paper that highlighted the link between sea-level rise and global climate change, arguing that previously studies may have underestimated the risk flooding poses to coastal communities.
  • States Push For Stronger Oil Train Limits (The Hill):
    Several state attorneys general are asking federal regulators to strengthen rules on trains transporting crude oil.
  • Will The Government Help Farmers Adapt To A Changing Climate? (MPR):
    The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.
  • Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation Widens Over Missing Alias Emails (Inside Climate News):
    The probe of ExxonMobil by the New York Attorney General's Office is widening. Investigators have taken depositions of company executives and issued additional subpoenas to determine whether the company may have destroyed evidence connected to an alias email used by former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson.
  • Industry Meltdown: Is the Era of Nuclear Power Coming to an End? (Yale e360):
    From Europe to Japan to the U.S., nuclear power is in retreat, as plants are being shuttered, governments move toward renewables, and key companies face financial troubles. Even some of the industry’s biggest boosters believe nuclear is on the way out.
  • A beginner's guide to the debate over 100% renewable energy (Vox):
    Clean-energy enthusiasts frequently claim that we can go bigger, that it's possible for the whole world to run on renewables - we merely lack the "political will." So, is it true? Do we know how get to an all-renewables system? Not yet. Not really.
  • No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously (Vox):
    If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.


FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years: