Good afternoon, y’all. Here’s my briefing of the top developments in politics, economics and climate news.
Fast LNG. The governor of Louisiana on Thursday signed into law a bill that should give the Gulf coast a major boost in offshore energy production. “This is huge,” said Emma Wagner, executive director of Gulf Restoration Network, a watchdog group that has long opposed the development of offshore wells because of the impact to protected and endangered species. “I’m thrilled and excited. I don’t have much else to say.” Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) joins a growing number of governors who see the infrastructure in their states as key to combating rising sea levels and providing a boost to an economy that can’t stand on its own.
Major consequences. President Trump’s push to eliminate the Stream Protection Rule has set the stage for major consequences that could lead to damage from uncontrollable sediment and nutrients flooding in to the nation’s rivers, according to a study released Wednesday by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Now comes a report from the Environmental Defense Fund looking at the potential impacts on climate, and it doesn’t sugarcoat its findings: “Most likely that these river flows would have implications for many bodies of water up and down the Mississippi River basin.” Here are the basics: “Nearly 20 of the 32 farm and small stream basins to be studied will experience possible ‘severe or catastrophic’ scenarios of flooding, erosion and nutrient pollution.”
Global warning. Days after California officials called for a complete ban on the burning of coal for electricity generation, officials at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory signed a public letter to California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) that calls for the state to also ban the burning of natural gas, a potent greenhouse gas. “Most of the climate impacts at the end of the [century] result from both warming and peaking emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, not from natural-gas emissions,” the letter said.
Power play. As of Saturday, the single largest land area controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency is in Arkansas, home to areas contaminated by contaminated water. An Associated Press analysis of federal data shows that the Environmental Protection Agency has increased its holdings in Arkansas by more than 100 square miles in the last five years. The state is one of the worst national hotspots for mercury contamination, which is linked to health issues. The additional Arkansas holdings come after the EPA transferred 2,300 square miles of federal land from western states to the states as part of a resource management effort.
Populist surge. President Trump has seen a robust level of approval from his base since the election, a new POLITICO poll found. Approval among white evangelical evangelicals jumped to 77 percent this month. More recently, President Trump made a historic Oval Office visit to the National Cathedral, where he praised Pope Francis for his “strong support” of his “America First” policy. But the poll also suggests he isn’t popular with the broader American population, as just 37 percent of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of the president. The poll also found that President Trump is more popular than Hillary Clinton, but her approval rating is a little higher than President Trump’s.
Keep the faith. Speaking of the pope, Pope Francis may soon issue a personal exhortation that sets a new timetable for a planned papal conclave. That seems unlikely, given the pope’s inclination to set targets for a Popemobile and crucifix, not make plans for a papal throne. Still, the Vatican says the pope will be putting his stamp on the process “according to his inspiration and conviction.”
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