California takes on Trump over pollution rule rollback

Today someone asked me how I keep my spirits up amid the downbeat developments on the environmental news beat.

My two-part answer boils down to acknowledging the current state of reality without resigning myself to it:

  1. Yes, the best available science finds that we've already created enormous problems for ourselves. Some of these problems are on the verge of being impossible to reverse. Climate change in particular, and even more the loss of diversity of life on Earth.

  2. But: It would be more depressing to give up on working to reverse it. 

Dear Readers of (de)regulation nation: How do you stay hopeful despite the bad news and dire scientific findings? Please email me your answers at, or use this form to send a message to an encrypted server.

I'll include a few of your responses in next week's newsletter.

And while we're talking: If you like this newsletter, please forward it to a friend and ask them to subscribe. 


bad: Trump prepares challenge to California's auto pollution standards 

  • The Trump administration is preparing to challenge California's right to set its own, stronger limits on tailpipe pollution.

  • The New York Times reported the administration's intention just one day after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testified to Congress that he had no plans "at present" to dispute California's power (under the Clean Air Act) to set limits that exceed federal standards. 

  • The challenge is part of Trump's plan to roll back Obama-era regulations slashing climate-heating pollutants from cars and SUVs.

  • A dozen other states follow California's emissions limits.

  • Read more:

better: California and allies fight back

  • A coalition of 18 states has sued Trump's Environmental Protection Agency for overturning the Obama administration's tough automobile fuel efficiency standards, which would slash greenhouse gas pollution from vehicles.

  • Led by California, the coalition contends that the EPA "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" when it rolled back the standards, by providing no evidence that they were too ambitious for automakers to meet.

  • In early 2017, the Obama EPA published a 1,200-page technical review that found automakers were meeting the new standards.

  • Transportation has replaced coal-fired energy as the U.S.A.'s largest source of carbon dioxide pollution, which is the leading cause of climate change.

  • Read more:

good: States, utilities preparing for electric vehicle boom

  • There will likely be seven million electric vehicles on American roads by 2025, based on current trends.

  • There were around 740,000 EVs zipping quietly around the U.S. by the end of 2017, half of them in California.

  • States and utilities are starting to plan for the infrastructure that will be needed to keep all those cars powered while they're on the road. One trade group predicts we'll need five million new EV charging stations by 2025.

  • As greater energy efficiency and other factors limit growth in the demand for electricity, utilities see EV charging as a promising business opportunity.

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great: Businesses buying gobs of clean power

  • The business sector is on track to crush its previous record for annual purchases of renewable energy.

  • 36 businesses, universities and government agencies entered agreements to buy 3.3 gigawatts of wind and solar power between Jan. 1 and April 30 of this year.

  • The same sectors purchased 4.8 gigawatts across all of 2017.

  • Why the surge:

    • As renewable energy becomes better developed, its easier for smaller entities to buy it. 

    • "The gains are also due to local renewables program and growing demand in international markets like Mexico and Australia."

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also great: European bees get a break

  • The European Union is banning outdoor use of three pesticides that have helped drive die-offs of wild and honey bee populations.

  • All three are neonicotinoid pesticides. Researchers have found these harm the nervous systems of bees.

  • Many pro-bee activists celebrated the news of the ban; some say the EU needs to do more. 

  • Agriculture trade groups say there's not enough evidence that the ban will protect bees. 

  • There is, in fact, a great deal of evidence that the ban will help protect bees.

  • Read more: