Articles on US environmental policy

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To comply with air pollution laws, midwest energy companies built tall smokestacks to displace pollutants. This one at Indiana’s Rockport Generating Station is 1,038 feet high, just 25 feet shorter than the Eiffel Tower. Don Sniegowski

Why shifting regulatory power to the states won’t improve the environment

Trump administration officials argue that states can regulate more effectively than the federal government. But without leadership from the top, federalism may allow red states to avoid acting.
Snow geese settle on a wetland in North Dakota. If the Trump administration successfully rescinds the Clean Water Rule, many wetlands might lose federal protection. Krista Lundgren USFWS/Flickr

Does Scott Pruitt have a solid case for repealing the Clean Water Rule?

The Clean Water Rule spells out which streams, wetlands and other water bodies receive federal protection. The Trump administration wants to repeal it, but will face high hurdles in court.
Heavy gray smog blankets northeastern China, including Beijing and Tianjin, on Dec. 18, 2016 during a five-day air pollution ‘red alert.’ NASA Earth Observatory

When some US firms move production overseas, they also offshore their pollution

New research shows that importing goods from low-wage countries has helped US manufacturers shift production to less-polluting industries, produce less waste and spend less on pollution control.
Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina. Tjss99/Flickr

The state of US forests: Six questions answered

Forests are valuable for many uses, including timber, clean water, wildlife habitat and recreation. Stresses on U.S. forests include wildfires, pest invasions and development of private lands.
President Trump holds up the signed Energy Independence Executive Order, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at EPA headquarters in Washington, surrounded by coal miners and members of his Cabinet. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Trump’s energy and climate change order: Seven essential reads

President Trump's latest executive order weakens or reverses multiple rules and policies designed to slow climate change. Scholars explain the order's impact.
The outdoor retail industry is moving its lucrative trade show out of Utah after disputes with state officials over land conservation. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Climate politics: Environmentalists need to think globally, but act locally

President Trump says environmental regulation kills jobs. To fight back, conservation advocates need to show that protecting the environment can produce jobs and local benefits.
Coal train in Missouri. Assigning a social cost to carbon emissions puts a price on activities that generate them, such as burning fossil fuels. Scott Granneman/Flickr

Curbing climate change has a dollar value — here’s how and why we measure it

To weigh the economic impact of climate change policies, we need to estimate the social cost of carbon. An economist explains how it's done and why the Trump administration shouldn't end the practice.
Prairie potholes in South Dakota are important breeding and feeding areas for many types of birds. Under the Clean Water Rule, farmers cannot fill them in or discharge pollutants into them without a permit. Laura Hubers, USFWS/Flickr

Why farmers and ranchers think the EPA Clean Water Rule goes too far

President Trump signed an executive order to roll back the 2015 Clean Water Rule. Two water experts explain why the rule alarms farmers and ranchers concerned about over-regulation.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB350 on Oct. 7, 2015. The bill calls for increasing the state’s renewable electricity use to 50 percent and doubling energy efficiency in existing buildings by 2030. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Will blazing a low-carbon path pay off for California?

California has set ambitious goals for cutting carbon emissions and shifting to a clean energy economy. How will this strategy affect the state's huge economy? An economist weighs the evidence.
Bald eagles are the best-known example of a successful recovery under the Endangered Species Act. Jerry McFarland/Flickr

For endangered species, the road to recovery can be winding and bumpy

Critics say the Endangered Species Act does not work because only about 1 percent of protected species have officially "recovered." Two biologists explain why recovery is so hard to define.
Activists in Seattle practice for demonstrations against Royal Dutch Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic, April 17, 2015. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Will Obama’s offshore drilling ban be Trumped?

President Obama used an obscure 1953 law to bar offshore drilling in Arctic Alaska and along the Atlantic coast. Republicans and energy companies want to reverse the ban, but it will not be easy.

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