Previous Legal and Political News

Rachel Carson Council “Walks the Line” to learn about the negative effects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline 07-07-17

This summer, RCC Interns have been working with staff to write a comprehensive report on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They have been interviewing experts, researching policies, maintaining the RCC social media sites and helping to grow the campus network. Read more at Rachel Carson Council


How to Tell If Your Reps Are Serious About Climate Change 06-26-17

In the wake of Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, how serious are your elected leaders about fighting back? Read more at Rolling Stone


Michael Mann: If You Believe in Science You Must Now Make Your Voice Heard 05-21-17

“It’s an honor to address this group of distinguished faculty, proud parents, supportive family members and friends.” Read more at EcoWatch


With public lands at stake, outdoors enthusiasts head to D.C. 05-21-17

Professional rock climber Tommy Caldwell admits he feels more comfortable climbing sheer cliff faces thousands of feet in the air than discussing public policy with national lawmakers. Read more at Grist


Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas Has a Problem with Science – and with Voters 05-20-17

For most of his four years as chair of the Science Committee, Republican Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas has served up more spectacle than policy. Read more at The Intercept


Huge Victory: Natural Gas Storage Plan Halted at Seneca Lake 05-11-17

The news broke Wednesday in the most banal of venues: the biweekly environmental compliance report submitted by Arlington Storage Company to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Read more at EcoWatch


Omnibus deal ignores Trump calls for deep energy, enviro cuts 05-01-17

Congressional leaders reached a bipartisan deal last night to fund the government through the rest of the year that avoids steep cuts for U.S. EPA and renewable energy programs sought by the Trump administration. Read more at E&E News


Rick Perry loses his cool when confronted by Sen. Franken on climate science 06-22-17

After a week full of misleading and inaccurate statements, Energy Secretary Rick Perry remained incredulous and defiant when confronted with climate science-related facts in a budget hearing Thursday. Read more on Think Progress


A new take on political science: Training researchers to run for office 06-15-17

They have built careers isolating cells, designing integrated circuits and mastering computer languages. Now they are knocking on doors. Read more at Los Angeles Times


With Trump, A Full-Scale Assault on Protections for U.S. Public Lands 05-31-17

With a series of actions – including proposals to de-authorize recently created national monuments and open environmentally sensitive lands to fossil-fuel development – the Trump administration is moving to overturn long-standing U.S. policies on protecting the nation’s public lands. Read more at Yale Environment 360


Legislators Retreat from Active CAFO Lawsuit Attack 04-26-17

A Senate committee backs a bill to limit financial awards in farm nuisance lawsuits, but steers clear of current cases. Read more at North Carolina Health News


N.C. Bill to Shield CAFOs’ Liability Would Curb Legal Rights for Hundreds of Thousands 04-17-17

North Carolina lawmakers are rushing to pass legislation to fundamentally alter the legal rights of property owners, severely restricting the longstanding right to fair compensation for hundreds of thousands of residents whose air, water, health, quality of life and property values are threatened by the pollution and stench of animal waste from factory farms. Read more at Environmental Working Group


North Carolina is Latest in State CAFO Battles 04-13-17

A bill to restrict damages in active lawsuits in North Carolina against the world’s largest hog grower and pork producer may be one of the more aggressive moves nationally to shield intensive livestock agriculture from court penalties. Read more at North Carolina Health News


House passes limited hog farm liability bill 04-10-17

A proposal to limit the financial payoff from citizen lawsuits against North Carolina’s hog farming operations passed the state House on Monday, but only after lawmakers agreed to exempt lawsuits currently pending. Read more at The News & Observer


California’s cap-and-trade program isn’t a tax, court rules 04-07-17

State judges told the California Chamber of Commerce on Thursday that its members don’t have a right to pollute, rejecting claims by its attorneys that payments required to release greenhouse gases under a marquee climate program are a kind of tax. Read more at Grist


Thoughts from the Science March in Berkeley 04-23-17

At the urging of my STEM-educated husband, I went to the UC Berkeley campus on Saturday for the science march. Despite living six years in Berkeley during my PhD work, this was my first protest at Sproul Plaza, site of the Free Speech Movement of the sixties, and many legendary protests since. Read more at Pop Theology


30-Year EPA Veteran: ‘I Have Never Seen Anything Like It’ 04-04-17

President Trump’s visit to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week to sign an executive order overturning years of work on the Clean Power Plan and other policies is just the latest sign of sinking employee morale at the EPA. Read more on EcoWatch


Bill would weaken neighbors’ ability to be compensated in hog farm lawsuits 04-01-17

The civil justice system in North Carolina exists to protect people and their property from unreasonable actions by others. One of the longest standing causes of action in civil courts is for nuisance claims, which allow you to bring suit when your neighbor creates a condition on their property that interferes with your ability to use and enjoy your property, Read more on The News Observer 04-01-17


The Case for the Politicization of Science 04-28-17

The sorrow of the March for Science did not hit me until I saw a photo from it—an older woman standing next to a homemade sign adorned with Ms. Frizzle.You know Ms. Frizzle, if only from a PBS ad. Read more at The Atlantic


Donald Trump’s Disastrous Plan To Derail U.S. Climate Action 03-29-17

The long-awaited order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency to review the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature policy for slashing greenhouse gas emissions from the utility sector, by far the country’s biggest emitter. This review marks the first step toward scrapping the regulation. Read more at Huffington Post


Trump to Strike Biggest Blow Against Obama Climate Legacy 03-28-17

President Trump will travel to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today at 2 p.m. to sign a broad executive order that will take aim at key Obama-era climate policies, setting the stage for several extended energy fights in the months and years to come. Read more at EcoWatch


Fracking Ban Nears Approval in Maryland 03-23-17

Maryland is poised to become the third state to outlaw fracking, as the Senate prepares to vote on a statewide ban and with Gov. Larry Hogan saying he will sign it. Read more at Inside Climate News


Scott Pruitt’s office deluged with angry callers after he questions the science of global warming 03-11-17

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s phones have been ringing off the hook — literally — since he questioned the link between human activity and climate change. Read more at The Washington Post


Trump’s potential science adviser William Happer: hanging around with conspiracy theorists 02-20-17

The Princeton atomic physicist is no climate scientist – and he’s pushing the same old denier myths. Read more on The Guardian


House Passes NRA-Backed Bill Legalizing the Killing of Bear Cubs in Wildlife Refuges 02-17-17

The House of Representatives approved a controversial bill to overturn an Obama-era rule that protects wolves, bears, coyotes and other animals on more than 76 million acres of national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The measure was passed 225-193 on Thursday on a mostly party-line vote. Read more at EcoWatch


Trump Administration Sued for Suspending Protections for Endangered Bumble Bee 02-16-17

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the Trump administration Tuesday for illegally suspending the rule to put the rusty patched bumble bee on the endangered species list. The rusty patched bumble bee has lost approximately 90 percent of its range in the past 20 years. It is the first bumble bee ever listed under the Endangered Species Act. Read more on EcoWatch


“Dark Forces” Are Coming for Your Organic Food 02-09-17

The Freedom Caucus is a rowdy band of GOP US House members most famous for triggering government shutdowns, pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and driving former GOP Speaker John Boehner from his post on the theory he wasn’t conservative enough. And now they’re coming for your certified-organic food. Read more on Mother Jones


Green groups file sweeping lawsuit accusing Trump of seizing Congress’s powers on regulations 02-08-17

Three advocacy groups filed a sweeping federal lawsuit Wednesday, challenging President Trump’s executive order requiring two federal regulations to be “identified for elimination” for every new one added — arguing that the order fundamentally takes over Congress’s powers to enact laws to protect public health, safety, and the environment. Read more on The Washington Post


Does the Constitution hold the key to climate action? 02-06-17

The day before Donald Trump’s inauguration, a group of environmental lawyers had hoped to depose Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, in Dallas, Texas. Julia Olson wanted to grill the former ExxonMobil CEO and American Petroleum Institute board member about climate change. Read more on High Country News


The Corrupt Politics of Pork 04-07-17

The INDY has previously reported that state Representative Jimmy Dixon—who has received $115,000 in campaign contributions from the pork industry—is the chief sponsor of a controversial hog-farm-protection bill that passed its second reading in the House Thursday under strange circumstances. Read more on Indy Week


How Trump’s Environmental Policy Is a Total Joke, Explained 03-30-17

With the mix of bluster and incompetence that is fast becoming its trademark, the Trump administration recently unveiled its newest executive order, which was intended to slap down the climate-change programs initiated by Barack Obama. Read more on Vanity Fair


Women scientists: “We’re not backing down, and we’re not going away” 01-29-17

It started as a group text message among four friends from graduate school about new kids, puppies, and jobs. You know, the successes and struggles that are the building blocks of everyday life. Read more on Grist


Trump’s War on Science Sparks Massive Resistance 01-26-17

The Trump-Pence Administration’s war on facts may have galvanized the next major demonstration in the nation’s capital—the Scientists’ March on Washington, which is as yet unscheduled but is garnering significant enthusiasm online. Read more on EcoWatch


Beginning of a Movement 01-23-17

Tens of thousands of students and academics join Women’s March on Washington. Read more on Inside Higher Ed


At the Women’s March, a call for climate protection, too 01-22-17

Amid a sea of signs and pink hats, plenty of people also marched for environment and climate science. Read more at The Daily Climate


The Most Dangerous Bill You’ve Never Heard of Just Passed the House 01-10-17

Last, week, under the cover of a media bliss-out except among Koch funded right-wing channels, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would effectively repeal future standard setting under every important environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law on the books. Read more on EcoWatch


Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Would Trash Air And Water Safeguards 01-03-17

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has sued the Environmental Protection Agency more than a dozen times to block air, water and climate protections. Read more on Huffington Post


Elections Expert Says North Carolina is No Longer A Democracy 12-23-16

Andrew Reynolds, an adviser with the Harvard-based Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), has observed elections across the world — from Afghanistan to Burma, Egypt to Sudan. Read more on Grist


EPA Turns Away from CAFO Water Pollution 12-22-16

Inspections and enforcement have declined since 2011, but fines for all pollution increased. Read more on Circle of Blue


Leaked Transition Team Memo Outlines Trump’s Catastrophic Energy Agenda 12-8-16

A memo obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy outlining Donald Trump’s energy agenda for when he takes Office next January has revealed the full extent to which Donald Trump is going to lay waste to America’s climate record and clean energy industry. Read more on Cleantechnica


The dirty deplorables: Who’s who on Trump’s team 12-9-16

What do Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees and advisors think about climate change and other sustainability issues? As you would expect, it’s not looking good so far for those of us concerned about a habitable climate and livable cities. Read more on Grist


Fighting a pipeline in the age of Trump 11-18-16

Politics and property rights take center stage as Mid-Atlantic pipeline opponents strategize post-election. Read more on The Daily Climate


Trump and his key advisors stand to profit from the Dakota Access Pipeline 11-15-16

Trump has personally invested between $500,000 and $1 million in Energy Transfer Partners — the very same company that’s constructing the pipeline. Read more on Grist


These Are The Protesters Fighting For Their Rights At Standing Rock 11-24-16

For the past seven months, members of the Sioux Nation at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota have been fighting for their way of life by protesting the planned construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Read more on Huffington Post


What It Means To Be A Writer In The Time Of Trump 11-17-16

Ernest Hemingway said, “The writer’s job is to tell the truth.” Read more on Huffington Post


Exclusive: EPA’s top official commits to doing right by communities of color 10-27-16

The fundamental facts of environmental justice — that communities of color face disproportionately higher rates of pollution — have been known for decades. It’s been more than 20 years, for instance, since President Bill Clinton signed an executive order directing federal agencies to provide environmental protection for poor and minority communities. Read more on Grist


Citing Environmental Risks, Scientists Back Tribes in Dakota Access Fight 10-15-16

Close to 100 scientists have signed onto a letter decrying “inadequate environmental and cultural impact assessments” for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and calling for a halt to construction until such tests have been carried out as requested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Read more on Common Dreams


U.S. companies tout climate policies, fund climate skeptics 9-16-16

U.S. companies that have expressed the most fervent public support for President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda are also funding its biggest enemies – the scores of U.S. lawmakers who are climate change skeptics and oppose regulation to combat it, according to a Reuters review of public records. Read more on Reuters


What a liberal sociologist learned from spending five years in Trump’s America 9-6-16

Five years ago, right as the Tea Party was becoming a major force in American politics, Arlie Russell Hochschild realized she didn’t really know any conservative Republicans. Ensconced in her liberal outpost at the University of California, Berkeley, the famed sociologist understood little about the lives or beliefs of a huge swath of the country. Read more on Vox Energy & Environment


EPA Won’t Investigate Scientist Accused of Underestimating Methane Leaks 8-12-16

Environmental advocates accused former EPA adviser of scientific fraud in study of oil and gas facilities, but agency’s Inspector General declines to investigate. Read more on Inside Climate Change


Supreme Court Is About To Get A Good Look At How North Carolina Messes With Voting Rules 8-18-16

The state’s Republican Party is making tweaks to early voting, and the justices will know all about it.

An appeals court in July said that North Carolina’s voter ID law and similar provisions targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.”  Read more on Huffington Post


Lawmakers Fund New Policy Center at UNC 8-10-16

A new policy center being set up to take a lead research role in a legislative effort to revise state water pollution rules has environmentalists on alert and UNC-Chapel Hill officials moving quickly to hire staff and begin work. Read more on Coastal Review Online


Commentary: To tax or not to tax—that is the question 7-18-16

Flawed models, downplayed risk and uncertainty—why we need to pump the brakes on carbon tax clamoring and ask the hard questions

As in most things, the devil is in the details. Read more on The Daily Climate


Election Guide 2016 – We’re here to make sense of an election that doesn’t 7-18-16

In the United States, presidential elections get all the attention (especially when reality TV stars are topping national tickets). Regrettably, that means they also tend to dictate which issues hog the spotlight — and sustainability too often gets the shaft. Read more on Grist


Hanford union blackballed for insisting on safety 7-7-16

At the most contaminated worksite in America – the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland – observers could assume workers don every necessary protective device, including breathing masks similar to what firefighters use. Read more on NBC King 5 Western Washington


Sanders and Clinton teams fight over climate language in Democratic platform 6-28-16

The Democratic Party’s platform drafting committee has written a stronger climate change section than the platform had in 2012, but it also rejected a series of more ambitious climate and energy amendments on Friday. That’s raised the ire of Bernie Sanders and his appointees to the drafting committee, like climate activist and author Bill McKibben. Read more on Grist


When the oil boom went bust, Oklahoma protected drillers and squeezed schools 5-17-16

Oilmen won a big victory when legislators made permanent one of the juiciest tax breaks in the United States. Schools, meanwhile, are having to cut classes, administrators and teachers to make up a growing revenue shortfall. …Full article


Many Davids Beat Goliath 3-24-16

Eight years ago a business lobbyist who had formerly worked for then Gov. Mike Easley called just as I was leaving the office for the day. He said he wanted to give me a “heads-up” that a major new industry was about to announce plans to locate in Wilmington, and that it would be a wonderful economic stimulus for southeastern N.C. He assured me that the company would be a good coastal steward, and encouraged the N.C. Coastal Federation to welcome the project …Full article


Scalia’s Death Means Obama’s Clean Power Plan is More Likely to Succeed 2-14-16

Three weeks ago, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied motions to stay the EPA’s Clean Power Plan there was cautious optimism about what that decision signaled for the future of the historic climate rule. For the first time in U.S. history, the Supreme Court setpped in to stay a regulation that was still being reviewed by the lower court …Full article


Banning Fracking Isn’t Enough: How We Fight to Stop Pipelines, Compressor Stations and Gas Plants 1-15-16

Hundreds of climate activists and renewable energy advocates gathered for a State of the Climate rally and march outside of Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address in Albany recently. Along with the petition scroll, the groups also delivered more than 500 letters to Gov. Cuomo’s office …Full article


Congressmen Urge Halt to Seismic Permitting 1-6-16

39 members of Congress, including Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones of coastal NC, signed a letter in December expressing deep concerns about the use of seismic air guns for oil exploration off the …Full article


Environmental Justice Scores A Win in California Carbon Policy 12-7-15

The cap part of California’s cap-and-trade program gets a lot of love. It place hard limit on emissions, which benefits everyone. The trace part, however, has its detractors—and with good reason. Plenty of communities in the state, largely communities of color, still suffer from disproportionate pollution. In short, a log of the good that’s created for by by the cap is negated for some people by the trade …Full article


EPA Warns State on Permit Cases 11-12-15

An official with the Environment Protection Agency has put North Carolina’s environment secretary on notice regarding two recent pollution permit cases facing public challenges: Decisions in the cases may affect the state’s authority to issue water and air quality permits int he future …Full article


Cuomo Adminstration Blocks Massive Tar Sands Oil Facilty Expansion in Albany 5-21-15

In the face of a court challenge from a broad coalition of environmental and community groups and massive community opposition, the Dept. of Environment Conservation halted Global Companies’ proposed expansion of its massive Albany oil train facility to handle tar sands oil. The expansion would have allowed Global to pump tar sands oil out of railcars, store and heat it in storage tanks on-site at the Port of Albany, and transfer the oil onto barges for transport down to the Hudson River to East Coast refineries …Full article


As Opposition to Offshore Drilling Mounts, Activists to Join “Hands Across the Sand” for Annual International Day of Action 5-14-15

Ocean activists kicked off the 5th Annual Hand Across the Sand International Day of Action, by joining hands in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool in a symbolic gesture to oppose the expansion of offshore drilling to the Atlantic and Arctic oceans …more


Protesters to Join Hands Against Oil and Coal 5-11-15

North Carolinians will take 15 minutes Saturday to join hands with strangers in a peaceful demonstration against fossil fuels. The event, known as Hands Across the Sand, will take place in different states and countries around the world. “What it does is it creates an amazing, powerful image,” said Dede Shelton, executive director of Hands Across the Sand. “We send this image to elected officials so they see people won’t want this to happen” …Full article


This is Not My State 4-17-15

This speech, by Derb Carter, Director of the Southern Environmental Law Center, focuses on the damage being inflicted on North Carolina’s environment by the state’s General Assembly and current state administration. Budget cuts, the repeal of longstanding legislation and sweetheart deals with polluters have all contributed to increasing damage to North Carolina’s beautiful mountains, coast, rivers and natural areas …more


19 Students Arrested by Yale Police at Fossil Fuel Divestment Sit-In 4-10-15

Nineteen Yale students were arrested by Yale police yesterday following a day-long sit-in that called for the university to reopen the conversation on fossil fuel divestment. Yale is one of the first schools where a fossil fuel divestment action has led to arrest. “Yale would rather arrest its students than re-engage in the conversation” said Fossil Free Yale Project Manager Mitch Barrows …Full article


Drought Stricken California Exempts Big Oil and Big Ag From Mandatory Restrictions 4-2-15

An April snowpack assessment in California, which set an all-time record for lowest snowpack levels in the state’s history, finally spurred governor Brown’s office to issue an executive order to residents and non-agricultural businesses to cut water use by 25% in the first mandatory statewide reduction in the state’s history. Some groups have been exempted from the water restrictions, specifically big agriculture which uses about 80% of Caiifornia’s water, and oil companies …Full article


New Fracking Rules on Public Lands ‘A Giveaway to Oil and Gas Industry,’ Advocates Say 3-20-15

The new rules are released following a 4-year process that included more than 1.5 million public comments. The Bureau of Land Management claimed they would “support safe and responsible hydraulic fracking on public and American Indian lands.” Drilling has been occuring on federal lands for years with more than 100,000 wells in existence. However, following the fracking book of the last 2 decades, more than 90% of new drilling operations involve that process, evading the regulations of 30 years ago …Full article


U.S. Interior Department Plan: Open Atlantic Coast to Offshore Drilling 1-27-15

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s new five-year offshore drilling strategy calls for opening the offshore stretch from Virginia to Georgia, an area the energy industry says could hold large amounts of oil and gas. The Obama administration proposes an unprecedented opening of the waters off the Atlantic coast for oil and natural gas drilling …Full article