Trump Dealt Two Blows By Courts — One on Timber and One on Climate Cap and Trade

Tongass National Forest

Federal Courts this week reversed two decisions by the Trump Administration, one in Alaska that would delay opening up 1.8 million acres of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging and another in California that allows California’s program to reduce vehicle emissions in collaboration with the Canadian province of Quebec to continue.   In both cases, the judges found that the Trump Administration had overreached in its exercise of power without justification and put back in place the policies of prior Democratic Administrations.

Why This Matters:  Both these decisions will help the U.S. to combat climate change.  The Tongass National Forest contains more than half of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest and thus is an important carbon sink — it was first put off-limits to development during the Clinton Administration.  But the decision is limited to only the building of 164 miles of road through a portion of the 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest, so this important area is still under threat.  In California, the state’s ability to take action to cut its auto emissions even in conjunction with another country — something the Trump Administration likened to the State having a treaty with a province of Canada. Auto emissions account for nearly 30% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest single source so any cap on those emissions from a state as large as California is significant.

California- Quebec Cap and Trade

The Justice Department argued that California’s carbon trading system with Canada undercuts President Trump’s ability to conduct foreign policy on greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental deals, and the agreement with Quebec is certainly contrary to the administration’s policy to back away from international climate agreements.  They argued that if California could make such an agreement with another country, so could other states and municipalities, of which there are many that have committed to retaining their commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.  The Judge in the case found, however, that the arrangement between California and Quebec is “not a treaty creating an alliance for purposes of peace and war,” but instead explicitly recognizes that they each have ‘their own greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, their own regulation on greenhouse gas emissions reporting programs and their own regulation(s).”

Tongass Road Building Suspended

The Judge in Alaska agreed with environmental groups that the Forest Service, which manages national forests like the Tongass, failed to fully assess the environmental impacts of a specific road-building project as is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), holding that the Forest Services’ analysis had “serious shortcomings.”  This decision puts this area back under the protection of the 2001 “Roadless Rule,” which prevents logging by prohibiting road construction and timber harvesting in federal forests.  The Trump administration announced in October that it wanted to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule and that would permit both logging and mining in the Tongass, which is one of the largest undisturbed areas in North America.

Up Next

How to Elect Candidates Who Will Run, Win and Legislate on Climate Change

How to Elect Candidates Who Will Run, Win and Legislate on Climate Change

How do you elect political candidates who will make tackling climate change a priority? That’s the question Caroline Spears and her colleagues sought to answer when they launched the Climate Cabinet Action Fund in 2018, offering tailored climate data, policy ideas, and messaging suggestions to candidates and lawmakers. 

Why This Matters: State legislatures play a critical role in crafting and passing policy — to lead on climate and energy policy, paving the way for ambitious national climate action.

Continue Reading 521 words
Climate Change Is Causing a Stinking Mess in the South — Mold

Climate Change Is Causing a Stinking Mess in the South — Mold

The amount of rainfall and the number of severe storms that have hit the Southeastern U.S. are causing a lingering, stinking problem —  mold. The State’s Sammy Fretwell reports that researchers who studied the explosion of mold that occurred in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina 15 years ago now see the same thing happening throughout South Carolina after five years of excessive rain and numerous hurricanes.

Why This Matters:  Mold caused by one storm is awful, but when it is caused by repeated storms and lingering moisture under floors and in walls, there is no easy fix.

Continue Reading 558 words
Maui Joins Growing Number of Counties and States Suing Big Oil

Maui Joins Growing Number of Counties and States Suing Big Oil

By Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer As Maui, Hawaii begins its “managed retreat” from its coastline due to sea-level rise caused by climate change, the county filed a lawsuit this week against big oil companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips to pay the costs of the move. The suit alleges that the companies knew […]

Continue Reading 619 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.