Table Of Contents

    Hurricane tracking is one of the many weather monitoring and prediction activities conducted using NOAA aircraft, facilities, and satellites. The Trump administration is proposing steep cuts to the agency's budget. Photo courtesy of NOAA via


    Popular Energy Star Program Is Reportedly on Trump’s EPA Chopping Block

    A new White House budget proposal to cut 38 EPA programs includes Energy Star, a voluntary energy efficiency program that has saved money for consumers and businesses. The certification, which applies to appliances, heating and cooling systems, electronics, and buildings, boasts 85 percent brand recognition among consumers, allowing companies to differentiate their products in the market. The program has saved consumers $430 billion since its creation in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush and enjoys widespread support today. The elimination of a program that “is doing so much good across so many fronts," says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, is a “penny-wise and pound-foolish” idea. The program includes 16,000 participants ranging from schools and hospitals to a wide variety of companies and organizations. Callahan explains that she “can’t imagine honestly that the manufacturers won’t fight very, very hard to keep this program in place.”

    For more information see:

    Washington Post

    Proposed Cuts to NOAA’s Budget Would Carry Serious Consequences for Multiple Sectors

    The Trump administration is proposing a 17 percent cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) budget. Members of the weather and climate communities cautioned that the deep cuts would set back advances made in weather prediction and climate science. NOAA’s weather satellite division, the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Services, would be one of the areas hardest hit by the budget cuts with a reduction of $513 million. NOAA's annual budget currently sits at $5.6 billion, a small percentage of the federal discretionary budget, and costs each American about $3 annually. NOAA's data is essential to a wide range of constituents, from water managers to farmers to local weather forecasters. Dan Sobein, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said, "The weather has such a huge impact on the economy, that the small savings [from the cuts] are a losing proposition for taxpayers. It would leave a huge hole in our ability to warn people and could even cost lives."

    For more information see:

    Washington Post, USA Today, Pacific Standard

    EPA to Reconsider Its Vehicle Fuel-Efficiency Standards

    The Trump administration and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan to withdraw a previously issued "final determination" on stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks for model years 2022-2025, after receiving pressure from automakers to loosen the standards. Under the Obama administration, automakers were committed to a decade-long development cycle to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrids and electric vehicles. The EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agreed to review the stricter standards when they set them five years ago, but the EPA concluded in December 2016 “that no revision was necessary.” This process occurred before the Trump administration took office in January 2017. In addition, the administration is also examining whether they will issue an executive order revoking California’s ability to create its own vehicle emission targets, an exemption first authorized by Congress in 1970. California is the only state with the ability to set their own stricter vehicle emission standards under the Clean Air Act, but other states can choose to adopt California’s regulations.

    For more information see:

    LA Times, New York Times


    Trump Administration May End NOAA’s Crucial Sea Grant Program

    A leaked White House memo shows that the Trump administration could attempt to abolish the National Sea Grant College Program, which supports partnerships between universities and localities to protect their economies and communities. Since its creation in 1966, the program has worked to “foster economic competitiveness” and “provide for the understanding and wise use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources.” Derek Brockbank, executive director of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, points out that “sea grants are and would be critical even if there was no climate change” and that they have “only become more critical with climate change.” Experts say that cutting this program could impede climate adaptation for coastal communities and harm the economies that depend on these measures. “The Sea Grant program represents a tried-and-true model of cooperation between universities, local governments, state governments, and the federal government," explained Jason Evans, a Stetson University scientist who works with the program. “Its effectiveness is really something to emulate, not eliminate, for the sake of austerity.”

    For information see:

    Climate Central

    Pruitt Brings Along Fellow Climate-Deniers to EPA

    Newly appointed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is beginning to fill up vacant offices at the agency with those who share his viewpoint towards environmental regulations and climate change. Pruitt has pulled heavily from the staff of fellow climate denier and Oklahoma Republican, Senator James Inhofe. Pruitt’s vision appears to be bringing in personnel who are fundamentally in conflict with the career employees who have carried out the EPA’s past actions. President Trump is expected to issue an executive order directing Pruitt to start the legal process of undoing the Clean Power Plan, in addition to weakening stricter fleet-wide fuel economy standards installed under the Obama administration. Former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said, "If you want to do these executive orders that require a whole rewrite of the rule, you have to get that right, legally. It took years to do those rules. To now ask for those things to be undone with less staff and low morale — how are they going to do it?"

    For more information see:

    Washington Post

    To Achieve Climate Action Goals, California Must Drastically Alter Development Patterns

    There are concerns about how California will reach its goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. To achieve these reductions, its citizens will need to make lifestyle adjustments, such as Southern Californians driving 12 percent less than they currently do. Cars and trucks are currently the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California. The state will also need to facilitate key actions, including increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road, expanding access to public transportation, convincing individuals to walk and bike more, and investing in renewable energy to supply the grid. However, many fear that the changes are too great for California to pull off in time. In order to achieve greater neighborhood density, state officials will need to change current development patterns—a major challenge that may see resistance from local governments. Ultimately, the state will need to reduce sprawl and invest in new housing units that promote clean transportation options.

    For more information see:

    LA Times


    Insurance Helps Buffer African Farmers from Climate Impacts, but Adaptation Remains Essential

    As climate change impacts such as drought, severe storms, and flooding continue to increase, farmers in developing countries are beginning to gain access to insurance to protect against what would be crippling losses. Insurance money can be received more quickly than international aid and can feature pre-approved plans for the distribution of funds, meaning farmers can benefit sooner. Currently, most existing insurance companies work with commercial farmers, since smaller farms which generate little revenue are unable to afford the premiums. The main role of insurance for the wealthier farms is to prevent the farmers from becoming impoverished. Insurance companies do very little in terms of helping already poor farmers rise out of poverty. However, more companies have begun diversifying their offerings in developing countries to help finance climate change adaptation. Mohamed Beavogui, director general of the agency African Risk Capacity, said, "You have to insure what you cannot cover, and at the same time you have to prepare and adapt. My real fear is we don't do it quickly enough."

    For more information see:

    Thomson Reuters Foundation


    Activists Continue Their Push to Save Government Science Data

    Activists are scrambling to archive as much publicly accessible government science data as possible ahead of significant budget cuts anticipated for several federal agencies. A coalition of scientists and activists launched a similar campaign prior to President Trump’s inauguration. The renewed concern that the Trump administration will restrict access to government held scientific information also stems from the appointment of climate science skeptics to key posts across multiple agencies, a series of executive orders targeting environmental regulations and transparency, and the removal of science from the EPA science and technology office's mission statement. While outright destroying government data is illegal, agencies can severely restrict access to the data through measures such as modifying government websites. Many scientists also worry that the administration will not abide by these laws. “We’ll probably be saying goodbye to much of the invaluable data housed at the [National Centers for Environmental Information],” wrote Anne Jefferson, a water hydrology professor at Kent State University. “Hope it gets rescued in time.”

    For more information see:

    New York Times


    Delaware’s Beach Towns Open for Business Year-Round Thanks to a Changing Climate, but at a Cost

    More and more, climate change is changing the face of Delaware’s beaches and the towns that depend on them. Like its shorelines, Delaware’s freezing winter temperatures have steadily receded over the last few decades. The significant shift in climate has allowed many of the 80 percent of local businesses that once closed for the winter to operate year-round, which has helped to create “25 years straight of renaissance” in Rehoboth and other towns. However, the warming temperatures have come at a cost as damaging hurricanes and storms are occurring more frequently. Beach restoration projects necessary to repair beaches eroded after each big storm have cost the state millions of dollars. These projects have become too costly for Delaware to fund on its own, causing state leaders to continually push for more federal funding. The Trump administration has not indicated whether it will grant this funding under a future budget.

    For more information see:

    USA Today


    New Technology Sequesters Carbon to Grow Cement Bricks Using Bacteria

    A new innovation has begun to literally pave the way towards a more sustainable construction sector. BioMASON is a biotechnology startup based in Raleigh, North Carolina, which has engineered a way to use bacteria to grow cement and make bricks. The bricks are constructed of biologically made (or, “biomineralized”) calcium carbonate crystals, a process which occurs naturally under the right conditions. BioMASONS’ product does not require the extreme heat necessary to produce traditional cement, burns no fossil fuels, and pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the process of creating the calcium carbonate. Eventually, the company hopes to construct the full assembly line of cement-generating materials in shipping containers, so that biocement can be manufactured anywhere. Traditional production of cement releases more carbon emissions than all of the ships and airplanes in the word combined, accounting for five percent of all industrial and fossil fuel emissions globally. Robert Jackson, chairman of the Global Carbon Project, noted, "As we have more people on the earth and countries like China industrialize, we’re producing a lot more cement than we did 10, 20 or 30 years ago."

    For more information see:




    EPA's Chief Environmental Justice Official Resigns, Urges Agency Dialogue with "Those Who Need Our Help the Most"

    International Civil Aviation Organization Adopts New CO2 Standards for Aircraft

    European Union Ministers Vow to Ramp-up Diplomacy to Strengthen Paris Agreement

    Bangladesh Deploys a Floating Hospital to Deliver Care to Vulnerable Island Residents

    Study: Climate Change Could Slash U.S. Agricultural Productivity if Sector Fails to Adapt

    Monthly Global Carbon Dioxide Metric Expected to Exceed 410 Parts per Million in April


    Events and Briefings

    The Economic Returns of a National Transportation Infrastructure Initiative

    Tuesday, March 14

    3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

    Room 212-10 Capitol Visitor Center (Senate side)

    East Capitol Street and 1st Street, NE

    The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the National League of Cities (NLC), and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invite you to hear examples from communities across America of transportation investments that benefit the national economy, by creating direct and supply-side jobs while boosting regional economies.


    Speakers include:

    Valarie McCall, Immediate Past Chair of APTA and Chief of Government & International Affairs for Cleveland, OH; Greg Evans, City Counselor for Eugene, OR and Co-chair of the NLC Transportation and Communications Committee; Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL); Paul Balmer, Legislative Assistant, speaking on behalf of Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); Peter Rogoff CEO of Sound Transit in Seattle, WA; and Matt Zone, President of NLC and Member of City Council for Cleveland, OH.

    A reboot to America’s transportation infrastructure would be the investment that keeps giving back. Public transportation investments not only create immediate jobs necessary for project construction, but also spark and underpin ongoing job creation by linking people to markets, thereby providing access to jobs; by linking employers to workers; and by making the overall transportation system more productive, efficient and economically competitive.


    A live webcast will be streamed at 3:30 PM EST at

    This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to expedite check-in.

    Writers: Emma Dietz, Ben Topiel, and Andrew Wollenberg
    Editor: Brian La Shier