(de)regulation nation

“Life is about more than just money.”

Welcome to (de)regulation nation, the newsletter tracking Trump administration environmental rollbacks, along with who’s fighting back and what’s going right.

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Scheduling note: Next week, (de)regulation nation will come out on Wednesday and Saturday.


bad

The Trump administration has released the final environmental impact report for selling drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska.

The final recommendation: Allow oil and gas development across just about all of the the refuge’s 1.6 million-acre coastal plain, an area that dozens of species and millions of individual animals, from polar bears to migratory birds to caribou, depend upon for safe breeding habitat.

This is the same report that, as Politico reported in July, the administration edited to play down the environmental effects that testing and drilling will likely have on the land and wildlife.

As the Anchorage Daily News reports. Alaska lawmakers “applauded the plan,” while the Gwich’in nation and conservation groups criticized it.

“The bigger question may be how much interest industry will show in the politically divisive and costly region near the Canadian border about which little is known by the oil industry,” the ADN goes on, noting that “major oil company BP recently announced it would sell its long-held stake in the only well ever drilled in the refuge” to a smaller firm.

At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Bureau of Land Management Alaska director Chad Padgett told reporters that “our goal is to have a lease sale before the end of the year.”

better

This week, House Democrats (and a few crossover Republicans) passed a triple-play of bills to block expansion of offshore oil-and-gas drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans, as well as in the Arctic Refuge.

I’ve already seen some news coverage emphasizing how little chance these bills have of passing the Senate or being signed by President Trump.

But that was never the point: These House Democratic moves are more about the upcoming election season.

good

This week, in TIME magazine, journalist-turned-climate-activist Bill McKibben describes how the world could look by mid-century if the collective we confront climate change head-on in the next few years.

While we’re not “getting out of this unscathed,” McKibben describes paths forward after 2020 that are just as potentially politically achievable as doing nothing or not doing enough.

McKibben’s vision of the positive and possible is a welcome change from recent, despairing climate forecasts by public intellectuals — from David Wallace-Wells’ book “The Uninhabitable Earth” to Jonathan Franzen’s “What If We Stopped Pretending” (that “the climate apocalypse is coming”) in The New Yorker.

great

BP’s exit from Alaska is apparently just the first step in a remarkable corporate strategy shift.

CEO Bob Dudley announced this week that the oil major “plans to sell some oil projects and curb the development of others,” reports Bloomberg, “to align its business with the Paris accord.”

It’s “the latest sign climate concerns are starting to impact the investment decisions of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers.”


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This newsletter is written by me, Emily J Gertz. I’m a veteran environmental journalist. You’ll find links to my reporting and more biographical goodness at my website .

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Today’s quote is a statement from the New Zealand government, which is shifting its economic policies “to make nature and society just as important as gross domestic product (GDP) growth in government thinking,” as green advocate Ben Martin writes in Ensia. “When even famously conservative government economists are saying there’s more to life than dollars and cents, something interesting is going on.”