The Week in Climate: An Environmental News Roundup

Was your week too busy to sit and leisurely read the news? Do you wish you knew more about what was going on in the environmental news world? Lucky for you, Her Campus is here to solve all your problems with our Environmental News Roundup. Here are a few of the biggest things that happened this week.

Image via Nick Oza/The Republic

Miners protest closure of largest coal plant in the West

On the opposite coast, nearly 200 demonstrators gathered at the Arizona state capitol to demand that the Navajo Generating station remain open. Included in the crowd were Navajo and Hopi miners who receive reliable employment and economic benefits within their communities.

The utility most responsible for the closing, Salt River Project, explains that natural gas burning is becoming much cheaper for them and their customers. If the local community is unable to find a buyer, SRP will move forward with the plant closure.

Sentiments are mixed within the surrounding Native American communities. While many are concerned that the jobs will be hard to replace, others are advocating that the communities use the $420,000 that the Department of Commerce is granting to them in order to cope with the plant’s closure.  

 

Idaho lawmakers negotiate climate change education

Last Wednesday, the Idaho House Education Committee approved an amended set of science education standards that excluded any topics related to human-caused climate change. Rejected sections include human causes of climate changes and a section on sources of nonrenewable energy. However, these standards only prescribe the required material to be taught, leaving school districts and teachers to include climate change in their curriculums if they wish to do so. Nonetheless, climate experts, educators, and parents are concerned these decisions will have adverse effects on the climate literacy of Idaho children. 

 

Trump administration revives climate change policy

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) released a document directing states on how to spend the $7.4 million of disaster relief funds allotted to them by Congress. Within the document, HUD specified that any new structures built on a floodplain must be well above projected flood levels.

This follows an August 2017 executive order in which President Trump revoked an almost identical Obama-era law which required federally funded projects to account for increased flood risk associated with global warming. While the new HUD directive lacks any mention of climate change, it includes an eerily similar policy to that which Trump has just rescinded.  

 

 

Pictured: Sites at medium to high risk of flooding are marked by a dot (Image via New York Times)

 

Increase in flooding places toxic chemical sites at risk

The New York Times released a study which shows that a little over half of the toxic chemical sites in the country are located in areas that are at a high risk of flooding. As climate change fluctuations result in increased flooding, there are higher chances that these sites will become flooded, as well.

These at-risk facilities handle substances that are harmful to human health and the environment. Flooding in the surrounding area could result in leaking of toxic substances and water pollution, both of which would likely be damaging to the environment or local health.

 

Image via Bloomberg/Getty Images

 

Trump withdraws nomination of climate skeptic as leader of environmental council

White House officials announced that Trump will withdraw his nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White, a climate change skeptic, to lead Council of Environmental Quality.

Nominated in October, White’s approval by lawmakers was stalled following her hearing during which she expressed controversial opinions on climate change. She has previously described belief in climate change as “a kind of paganism” and had difficulty answering science questions during her 2017 hearing. The withdrawal of her nomination follows months of ridicule and condemnation of the decision from climate scientists, politicians, and public citizens.