What Environmental News to Watch the Week of Dec. 12

Hoover Dam

Here are some top stories, events and other environmental controversies to watch for this week.

Map App Could Aid Global Surface Water Management. Surface waters about the size of Lake Superior have vanished in the last 30 years because of human intervention and environmental change, with the loss concentrated in the Middle East and Central Asia, according to the Global Surface Water Explorer, an online global mapping application, which the European Union and Google Earth Engine developed. Stephen Gardner is reporting.

Money From Environmental Crimes Financing Rebel Groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Environmental crimes are threatening peace and security in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 40 percent of internal conflicts linked to natural resources, according to an Interpol and United Nations Environment Program report. Wachira Kigotho has the story.

China Moves to Rid Hazardous Chemicals From Residential Neighborhoods. China is encouraging localities to move hazardous chemicals away from residential areas in an effort to prevent another incident like the 2015 explosion at a warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that killed at least 165 people. Michael Standaert is reporting.

Gold King Mine Back in the News. The EPA said it will pay $4.5 million to state, local and tribal governments for their emergency response to the 2015 Gold King Mine spill in Colorado, but the agency has turned down $20.4 million in other reimbursement requests for past and future expenses. Tripp Baltz is digging into the story.

Proposed EPA Solvent Rule Kicks Off Arguments. Disputes about the adequacy of the EPA’s risk assessments are simmering now that the agency released a proposed rule to ban the use of trichloroethylene in aerosol degreasers, which remove grease from electrical motors. The ban also applies to spot cleaning at dry cleaners. Pat Rizzuto has a story coming.  

Taking a Look at Energy Policy. What would it take to change the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which established the Energy Conservation Program? Over time it’s been updated to include more than 50 appliance products. The Trump transition team is inquiring. Rebecca Kern is looking at it.

Trump Transition Team Adds More EPA, Energy Advisers. Harlan Watson, a climate negotiator under former President George W. Bush and another conservative member from Competitive Enterprise Institute, Christopher Horner, were named to the Trump transition team's EPA landing team. Dean Scott, Rebecca Kern and Renee Schoof have the story.