Court rolls back rollback
It’s Thursday, April 9, and a federal court struck down another one of Trump’s environmental rollbacks.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit overruled the Trump administration’s 2018 decision to suspend an Obama-era regulation that restricted the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent greenhouse gases.
The federal court found on Tuesday that the EPA inappropriately overhauled the rule without public notice or a comment period. The 2-1 ruling is a win for environmental groups, particularly the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which had challenged the agency’s action.
The Obama-era rule limits the use of HFCs, which are found in air conditioners, refrigerators, aerosol propellants, and insulating foams. The chemical’s impact on climate change can be hundreds to thousands times worse than carbon dioxide, pound for pound. Without regulation, HFC use is projected to grow over the next few decades as a substitute for ozone-depleting substances that are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol.
“This is an important victory for our climate,” NRDC attorney Peter DeMarco said in a statement. “EPA must ensure that as companies complete their transition away from ozone-depleting substances, they switch to alternatives safer than climate-polluting HFCs.”
Climate change could spark mass extinctions of wildlife around the world in coming decades, and there are signs that the first chapter of that story is playing out right now. Rising temperatures will cause a series of abrupt losses of species rather than a gradual reduction in biodiversity, according to a study in the journal Nature published Wednesday.
BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, vowed to divest from coal early this year and has now been tapped by the federal government to administer its bailout program. On Tuesday, 17 Republican senators sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell asking them to make sure that BlackRock bails out fossil fuel companies.
Locusts have been plaguing the Horn of Africa for months now, and the crisis has reached critical proportions, analysts say. Some 62 million acres of farmland have been ravaged by the insects in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, putting a majority of the region’s crops at risk. Climate change helped create ideal conditions for locust breeding earlier this year.