WASHINGTON (AP) — A top manager who supervises the Environmental Protection Agency program responsible for cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated properties and waterways told Congress on Thursday that the government needs to plan for the ongoing threat posed to Superfund sites from climate change.
The testimony by EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Barry Breen before a House oversight subcommittee conflicts with the agency’s policy positions under President Donald Trump, who has called climate change a hoax. Breen’s boss, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, is an ardent fossil fuel promoter who questions the validity of mainstream climate science.
During a hearing Thursday, Rep. Jerry McNerney, a California Democrat, asked Breen whether extreme weather events like hurricanes and wildfires could damage the highly toxic sites and cause contamination to spread.
“We have to respond to climate change, that’s just part of our mission set,” replied Breen, a career official who leads EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “So we need to design remedies that account for that. We don’t get to pick where Superfund sites are. We deal with the waste where it is.”
There are more than 1,300 Superfund sites in the U.S.
Under the Obama administration, EPA issued a robust plan for prioritizing cleanup and protection of toxic sites located in flood zones and areas vulnerable to sea level rise. However, a Superfund Task Force appointed by Pruitt last year issued a 34-page list of recommendations that makes no mention of climate change, flooding risks from stronger storms or rising seas.
By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst, 18 January 2018
Manmade climate change is now dwarfing the influence of natural trends on the climate, scientists say.
Last year was the second or third hottest year on record – after 2016 and on a par with 2015, the data shows.
But those two years were affected by El Niño – the natural phenomenon centred on the tropical Pacific Ocean which works to boost temperatures worldwide.
Take out this natural variability and 2017 would probably have been the warmest year yet, the researchers say.
The acting director of the UK Met Office, Prof Peter Stott, told BBC News: “It’s extraordinary that temperatures in 2017 have been so high when there’s no El Niño. In fact, we’ve been going into cooler La Niña conditions.
“Last year was substantially warmer than 1998 which had a very big El Niño.
“It shows clearly that the biggest natural influence on the climate is being dwarfed by human activities – predominantly CO₂ emissions.”
Published on Jan 22, 2016
We rely on antibiotics to treat everything from stomach bugs to skin rashes to bronchitis. In fact, we’ve been overusing them—and in doing so giving rise to new crop of dangerous bacterial infections that can’t be treated by anything we can get at the pharmacy. The more we use antibiotics, the more we help these superbugs build up their resistance. It’s an evolutionary battle, and the humans are losing. The projections are dire: according to some experts, antibiotic-resistant bacteria could kill 10 million people a year by 2050, surpassing cancer deaths.
With their backs to the wall, scientists are now racing to find new natural sources of anti-bacterial compounds. VICE’s Thomas Morton travels along as they search deep in the jungle and deep underground for the life-saving drugs we so desperately need.
Then: palm oil is used in almost all of the foods we eat and most of our household products—everything from packaged bread to cookies to toothpaste and soap. Production of palm oil has surged as a cheap alternative to trans fats. But as demand grows, growers in Indonesia are pushing farther and farther onto rainforest land, torching the forests as they go. The mass-burning of Indonesian jungles poses a major threat to wildlife, indigenous populations, and our global climate.
Published on Feb 20, 2015
Three years after the Tohoku earthquake in Japan, citizens and the international community are left wondering if Japan really does have the situation in Fukushima under control. Then, Ryan Duffy talks with veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who are struggling with mental illness, addiction, and PTSD—often over-prescribed narcotics and other pharmaceuticals that bring their own sets of problems.
Published on Jan 15, 2016
A recent study funded by the Department of Homeland Security found that law enforcement considers domestic right wing groups as two of the top three greatest terrorist threats to America. Nestled within our own borders, these citizens, many of whom are highly trained veterans, are on a mission to protect and defend the rights of the Constitution. After the election of President Obama, the number of these groups skyrocketed by over 800 percent— reaching an all-time high in 2012 with over 1,300 groups. In an effort to understand this phenomenon better, VICE sent host Gianna Toboni to investigate these so-called patriots, training and taking up arms along the border.
Then: during the last six decades, the boom of industrial fishing has nearly wiped out the top level of the marine food chain, depleting about 90 percent of the world’s large predatory fish. While big fishing operations continue to prosper as they go deeper into the ocean, small-scale coastal fishermen continue to seek out new fishing practices to survive. Some have even gone so far as to use such rudimentary practices as dynamite fishing to catch a few fish while wreaking havoc on the ecosystem.
Oceans play a critical role in feeding our growing population: three billion people around the world depend on fish as a major protein source. But with 80 percent of fisheries around the world lacking formal scientific assessments, we’re still just beginning to understand how much damage overfishing has done. VICE sent correspondent Isobel Yeung to the Mozambique Channel and the Gulf of Mexico to get an idea of how much we’ve overfished our oceans and what we can now do to save them.