science

Trump administration proposal would ease environmental impact reviews for federal projects
Proposal raises stakes for environmentalists fearful of what changes could mean for efforts to combat climate change

A Trump administration proposal would expand the number of projects like pipelines and fossil fuel drilling sites that are eligible to avoid comprehensive environmental impact studies. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

When science fiction becomes environmental fact, it might be time to worry
Storylines from ‘The Twilight Zone’ are now playing out in real time

A bushfire burns in the town of Moruya, New South Wales, Australia, on Sunday. As the country burns, many of its leaders remain unmoved on the science behind climate change, insisting Australia does not need to cut its carbon emissions, Curtis writes. (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)

OPINION — How did you spend your holiday? If you’re like me, one guilty pleasure was devouring TV marathons, designed to offer relief from the stresses of the season. Reliable favorites include back-to-back episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and, on Turner Classic Movies, one whole day devoted to science fiction, imaginings both cautionary and consoling of what the future holds for our world.

But usual escapes didn’t quite work this year, not when fact is scarier than anything “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling might have dreamed up, though the serious Serling who introduced each episode of his iconic series, all furrowed brow and cigarette in hand, did signal he suspected what was coming if mankind didn’t shape up.

Long wait for China tariff exemptions pays off for some
About a third of requests for exemptions from tariffs were granted in first two tranches of tariffs

President Donald Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook, to Trump’s right, tour the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility where Apple’s Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas, in November. Apple has fared better than most companies in winning exemptions on tariffs on Chinese imports. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

The limited scope of the phase one trade deal with China means that the bulk of U.S. tariffs will remain in place for the foreseeable future, leaving U.S. companies hurt by the duties no other choice but to get in line for an exemption if they want to limit the damage.

The record so far shows that it might be worth a shot: on average, importers have a one in three chance of meeting the standard set by the U.S. Trade Representative and getting an exemption or exclusion, according to an analysis by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Lawmakers unveil two mega spending packages
Health taxes to be repealed, tobacco age raised in year-end deal

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., along with Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, not pictured, announced on Thursday that they had reached a deal on a spending agreement before government funding runs out at the end of this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 16 at 6:05 p.m.

House appropriators filed two mega spending packages for floor consideration Tuesday after hammering out last-minute details over the weekend.

California water politics complicate House panel’s oversight
Natural Resources chairman wants to investigate Interior secretary’s role in water allocation report that benefited a committee member’s district

California Democratic Rep. Jim Costa represents part of California’s San Joaquin Valley, a drought-prone region where the politics surrounding agricultural and water interests can often trump partisanship. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona wants his committee to give him subpoena authority for multiple possible investigations, but California Democrat Jim Costa may vote against that as the panel considers whether Interior Secretary David Bernhardt improperly influenced a decision to send more water to his district.

Costa told CQ Roll Call he’s not sure he can support giving Grijalva such unlimited subpoena authority. Costa said he discussed the matter with the chairman, who plans a committee vote on the question in January, and said he’d support a “specific subpoena” in the panel’s current investigation into the Bureau of Land Management headquarters relocation. 

Former EPA advisers say agency’s mercury proposal is flawed
Process for devising proposal to weaken Obama-era pollution rule was ‘fatally flawed,’ they say

The EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard targeted emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As the EPA gets closer to finalizing changes to an Obama-era air pollution rule, a group of former agency advisers says the Trump administration’s attempt to weaken the mercury emissions regulations is based on faulty and outdated data.

The Trump administration a year ago proposed a rule that would revoke the EPA’s legal justification for issuing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule that aimed to curb hazardous air emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Democrats urge career EPA scientist to resist research limits
Proposed EPA rule would prohibit rules based on science that doesn't identify research subjects

The EPA has proposed limits on the kinds of science that can be used to make environmental rules.  l(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The long-serving EPA scientist came to a House committee to defend a Trump administration proposal to limit the kind of science used in environmental rulemaking, but Democrats on the panel urged her to resist the change. 

Testifying before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday, Jennifer to stand up against the agency’s political leadership as she defended a Trump , EPA’s science adviser and principal deputy assistant administrator for science at the agency’s Office of Research and Development, defended the agency’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule as necessary for making sound decisions.

EPA’s use of science to come under committee’s microscope
Critics say Trump administration proposal will undermine government research

EPA headquarters in Washington. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

A House committee may take aim Wednesday at the EPA’s plan to censor the science it uses in its policies by forcing the disclosure of private medical and health records, a step science advocacy groups say would undermine government research.

Members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are expected to broach the proposal at the hearing and will likely question Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, a medical doctor and EPA science adviser, over the proposed rule and how the agency uses science broadly.

Florida senators want federal help on their red tide problem
Algal blooms driven by chemical runoff and a warming climate killed aquatic life, slammed the state's tourism industry

A sign warns of possible airborne irritants after Palm Beach County closed its beaches because of a red tide algal bloom in October 2018. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

As Florida grapples with so-called red tides of algal blooms along its coasts and waterways, the state’s senators are pushing the federal government to come up with a plan to help control them.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will on Wednesday mark up a bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott aiming to find a solution to the toxic algae that cost the state’s tourism industry millions of dollars each year. 

Facebook CEO grilled on anti-vaccine content
Rep. Bill Posey demands fairness for vaccine questioners

Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, arrives to testify during the House Financial Services hearing today. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Republican congressman’s grilling of Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s approach to anti-vaccination content exposed the high-wire balancing act the platform now faces as it seeks to balance a public commitment to free expression with efforts to clamp down on disinformation.

At first glance, the line of questioning Wednesday by GOP Rep. Bill Posey of Florida appeared odd and out of step with a hearing dominated by a discussion of Libra, the digital cryptocurrency the company hopes to establish.