info 02.27.17

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A white paper from the The Nature Conservancy on The Biggest Environmental Challenges of 2017 [PDF]. They are scrupulous about sticking to the issues and avoiding politics, but when politics is the issue, perhaps the politesse is no longer affordable.

There is a bill before the House that says this and only this: "The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018." The end game is clear; the new EPA head, Scott Pruitt, is the facilitator of its demise, whether or not the EPA ends by a bill or by executive order or by attrition.

It has been reported by the Washington Post and others that several executive orders affecting the EPA are coming shortly. The big target is the Clean Power Plan, President Obama's central climate change policy, which requires states to set goals that reduce power plant emissions. According to a Forbes headline last week, if the Trump administration has its way, the 'Clean Power Plan Repeal Would Cost America $600 Billion, Cause 120,000 Premature Deaths.' So there's that.

Another order targets water. Per the NYC Environmental Protection [PDF], NYC "…continues to have some of the cleanest and best-tasting drinking water of any city in the world." And our watershed has remained fracking fluid-free thanks to the ban on the practice announced by Governor Cuomo in 2014.

That brings us to the Waters of the United States rule that clarifies which bodies of water are under the federal protection of the Clean Water Act. Expect to see the EPA relinquish claim over wetlands and streams and expect court challenges: NY's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has already initiated litigation.

A March for Science is scheduled for Earth Day, April 22, in Washington D.C. and locations around the world. The impetus is this: "The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted."

Taking a public stand is the point of the Town Hall Project, which tracks public events with elected officials across the country and urges citizens to "Show up. Speak out." The Sierra Club offers guidance on how to speak out on the environment when you do show up.

Floating, ocean-top living is a fascinating idea as a remedy for our ailing planet. Joe Quirk is the author of a forthcoming book on the subject, called Seasteading. The sub-title promises the world: How Floating Nations Will Restore the Environment, Enrich the Poor, Cure the Sick, and Liberate Humanity from Politicians.

Central Park South

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