What Environmental News to Watch the Week of Jan. 17


It’s a huge week in Washington with a change in the country’s commander in chief and several Cabinet confirmation hearings. Here’s a list of some top stories, events and other environmental controversies to watch.

Senate vets Trump’s team. The Senate holds confirmation hearings this week on Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees:

  • Tuesday with Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to lead the Interior Department;
  • Wednesday with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator; and
  • Thursday with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Energy Department secretary.
  • Alan Kovski, Brian Dabbs and Rebecca Kern are reporting.

Donald Trump takes the Oval Office. Donald Trump is sworn in Friday as the 45th president on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Dean Scott is covering.

Changes in store for Renewable Fuel Standard? Could Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick for EPA administrator, change the Renewable Fuel Standard point of obligation from refiners to blenders or retailers? Brian Dabbs is checking into this.

Sage grouse lawsuits may proceed. A recent ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia involving sage grouse protections will have little impact on other lawsuits for the same cause, attorneys say. Alan Kovski has the story.

China interested in low-carbon technologies. China will invest about $37 billion on low-carbon technologies over the next four years, the government recently said. Michael Standaert is reporting.

EPA and chemicals in commerce. The EPA has issued three proposed rules that would establish its first comprehensive regulatory strategy to evaluate—and regulate (if needed)—chemicals in commerce. Pat Rizzuto is on it.

Future of Yucca Mountain.  Members of Congress are lining up for a battle on the future of Nevada’s Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in recently introduced bills that propose contrasting methods to the siting of the waste. Rebecca Kern is reporting.

Lawmakers tapped for House agriculture subcommittees. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) has named Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) to lead the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee, taking over for Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), who will become chairman of the Subcommittee on Nutrition. Casey Wooten has the news.

Hydropower systems affecting longest river in Southeast Asia. Hydropower facilities in China have caused major changes in the Mekong River hurting livelihood and food security in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, a study says. Michael Standaert is covering.