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Posts Tagged ‘Trump Administration’

BY KATHARINE LOGAN

Resource extraction companies are moving on public lands like never before.

FROM THE JULY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Since the creation of the Antiquities Act in 1906, American presidents have had the authority, the honor, and the privilege of designating as national monuments the country’s most culturally and scientifically significant public lands—including, by corollary, some of the most spectacular, biodiverse, heritage-rich, and downright magnificent landscapes in America.

It’s doubtful whether presidents also have the inverse authority—to deconsecrate a national monument once protected—but doubtful is good enough for the current incumbent. In December of 2017, the Trump administration announced the reduction of two national monuments in southern Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears, to shards of their former expanses, exposing culturally and ecologically important places to oil and mineral development.

The deconsecration of Grand Staircase and Bears Ears exemplifies a larger trend in this administration’s management of public lands. Since 2017, federally owned lands and waters totaling more than four times the area of California have been put up for lease to the energy sector. Utah, with its oil, gas, and mineral resources underlying the vistas of the Colorado Plateau, is on the front line. About 65 percent of the state is federally owned, and the U.S. Department of the Interior has received some 230 lease nominations covering more than 150,000 acres. Development of these leases threatens iconic Red Rock Canyon lands, forested plateaus, indigenous cultural sites, archaeological troves, and geological marvels. Some of the leases would allow drilling within half a mile of renowned protected sites, such as Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, and within 10 miles of Bears Ears’s radically shrunken limits. (more…)

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BY MADELINE BODIN

Work on the nation’s most toxic sites has slowed.

FROM THE JULY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The nation’s most complex and extensive toxic waste sites are designated Superfund sites and have their cleanup overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For landscape architects, Superfund sites are complex problems, says Julie Bargmann, ASLA, a professor at the University of Virginia and the principal of D.I.R.T. Studio, a landscape architecture firm with several Superfund site projects in its portfolio. The work takes years to complete, and local stakeholders often struggle with strong, conflicting emotions, she says.

If you hear less about Superfund sites these days, it may be because less work is being done. (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE, EDITOR

FROM THE MARCH 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The National Association of Home Builders, among others, is giddy about a new Trump administration rule that allows widespread water pollution and wetland destruction. In late January, the federal government put out its final fixes to the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, known also as the Waters of the United States rule, under the Clean Water Act. The changes remove safeguards for most wetlands and more than 18 percent of streams. You are now free to fill these wetlands and foul these waters unburdened by law or by the unforgiving science that tells us which things turn water toxic and that water still runs downhill. The administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, even showed up at the home builders’ annual gathering in Las Vegas to announce the changes the group has wanted so badly. Their website headlined the announcement as “a big splash.” (more…)

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Oh, wouldn’t you know, more than a dozen federal agencies release a major report on dire climate trends and the coming shocks to the United States, and the White House drops it on everyone’s stoop in the dead of Black Friday. Disregard if you can the president’s tweets about the “cold” during Thanksgiving week. And if you missed the incoherent nonsense uttered by Danielle “I’m Not a Scientist” Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute on NBC’s Meet the Press (which went unchallenged by the host, Chuck Todd) and by Rick Santorum on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning, consider that a win. But check out the report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, for yourself.

For more breakdown, here is a roundup of news and analysis pieces assembled by the Society of Environmental Journalists.

“Major Trump Administration Climate Report Says Damage Is ‘Intensifying Across the Country’” (The Washington Post)

“Government Climate Report Warns of Worsening US Disasters” (AP)

“Federal Report: Climate Risks, Damage Rising Across U.S.” (ClimateWire)

“Climate Change Puts U.S. Economy and Lives at Risk, and Costs Are Rising, Federal Agencies Warn” (InsideClimate News)

“Clashing with Trump, U.S. Government Report Says Climate Change Will Batter Economy” (Reuters)

“Climate Change Is Already Hurting U.S. Communities, Federal Report Says” (NPR)

“Climate Change Will Shrink US Economy and Kill Thousands, Government Report Warns” (CNN)

“Climate Change ‘Will Inflict Substantial Damage on US Lives'” (The Guardian)

“What’s New in the Latest U.S. Climate Assessment” (The New York Times)

“Climate Change Poses Major Threat to United States, New Government Report Concludes” (Science)

“Trump’s Dire Climate Report Hands Ammunition to Democrats” (Politico)

“Experts to Discuss New Federal Climate Change Assessment Report for the U.S.” (NOAA)

“Federal Report: Hurricane Harvey Was a Climate Change Harbinger” (The Texas Tribune)

“Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II” (U.S. Global Change Research Program)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Image by Jocelyn Augustino [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In November, Moody’s Investors Service, the bond rating agency, released a cautionary report on climate change. Looking ahead, the report said, the effects of what it describes as climate trends and climate shocks are sure to become a “growing negative credit factor” for states, localities, or utilities that don’t appear to be responding to potential climate change effects through mitigation or adaptation. Cities and others issue bonds to borrow money for building things such as infrastructure or schools. They need investors to know they’re a good risk. Moody’s came out to say that it has begun deciding, based on climate resilience among a matrix of other factors, whether a given risk is good or bad. “If you’re exposed,” one Moody’s analyst told Bloomberg, “we know that.”

The other of the two biggest rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, is also keenly onto climate (it and Moody’s together run 80 percent of the bond rating business). It released a report in October to explain how municipal bond issuers will be affected by climate impacts. Like Moody’s, S&P specified two theaters of risk: the sudden extreme event, such as a hurricane, and “more gradual changes to the environment affecting land use, employment, and economic activity that support credit quality.”

This may all seem very back-office in the design world, and for now it is. It is also, critically, moving to the fore as the federal stance on climate change and its many hazards is not only in retreat but in vicious denial. Trump administration appointees, who are like drones for industry, are ordering the removal of references to climate change in agency communications. The administration is also purging our government of good-faith, (more…)

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