environment

Court tells teen plaintiffs it can’t force climate policy changes
Majority agreed the teens showed the federal government ‘has long promoted fossil fuel use despite knowing that it can cause catastrophic climate change’

Climate change youth activists demonstrate at the Supreme Court in September.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court said Friday that young climate activists established that government policies worsened climate change but dismissed the activists’ case seeking to force policy changes, ruling it was beyond the court’s power.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel accepted the argument that climate change had accelerated in recent years and that government policies encouraged fossil fuel use even as authorities knew it could have disastrous consequences. But the Constitution doesn’t empower courts to force such sweeping changes to policies at several federal agencies, the majority ruled.

USMCA bill tough vote for Democrats over lack of environmental protections
Even those who oppose the pact agree it’s a significant improvement over predecessor

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., attends a press conference to discuss climate change on Sept. 17, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal.

The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough to protect the environment and address the urgency of climate change. He lamented what he called problematic provisions, including “special protections” for fossil fuel companies. But, he approved of its labor protections and voted in favor of advancing the deal. 

Climate-focused Democrats hope for November reward
They seek to solidify themselves as the party of climate action

Jane Fonda, center, and Susan Sarandon, red scarf, march toward the Capitol on Friday during a weekly rally to call for action on climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats know that their “comprehensive” climate plans are unlikely to see the light of day in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate and face vetoes by a president who has at times rejected the scientific consensus on global warming.

But there’s a strategy afoot to solidify Democrats’ election-year banner as the party of climate action and lure young, independent and even Republican voters disgruntled with the Trump administration’s retreat on environmental issues, analysts say.

‘Fire Drill Friday’ finale: Jane Fonda goes back to Cali
The 82-year-old concludes her Washington residency with one last climate rally

Martin Sheen is seen outside the Capitol while being arrested during a weekly rally with Jane Fonda to call for action on climate change on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Corrected 7:11 p.m. | The season finale of Jane Fonda’s weekly Fire Drill Fridays saw some passionate speeches, a mass arrest and her most star-studded lineup yet.

The Hollywood veteran turned out hundreds for her final rally, including celebrity pals such as former “West Wing” actor Martin Sheen, Joaquin Phoenix and Susan Sarandon.

President Jed Bartlet could be arrested in front of the Capitol
Martin Sheen to join Jane Fonda at weekly climate change protest Friday

Actor Martin Sheen plans to join Jane Fonda’s weekly climate protest on Capitol Hill on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former “West Wing” star Martin Sheen is planning to join actress and activist Jane Fonda at a climate change protest Friday on the southeast lawn of the Capitol.

The event is part of Fonda’s weekly “Fire Drill Friday” demonstrations in support of the Green New Deal climate legislation sponsored by progressive lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Fonda and friends are calling on Congress to create high-paying jobs in the renewable energy sector and end all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

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.

Capitol Ink | Fast Aging Baby New Year

Road ahead: House to debate Iran war powers as impeachment articles hold continues
Senate moving ahead with regular business while awaiting impeachment articles to start trial

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell heads to a briefing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers hope a partisan dispute over Senate trial procedures for considering the House’s impeachment charges against President Donald Trump will be resolved this week. But a solution to the impasse could be complicated by another fight brewing in Congress over whether to restrain Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding the impeachment articles in the House in an effort to force Senate Republicans to agree to Democrats’ demands for certain witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed in the trial. The California Democrat has yet to indicate when she would transmit the articles to the Senate or lay out explicit conditions under which she would do so.

Capitol Ink | Best of 2019
The only constant in this wild year was unpredictability

Quid pro WHOA — what a year!

In January, Democrats took control of the House amid what would become the longest federal government shutdown in history. Springtime brought, besides cherry blossoms, special counsel Robert S. Mueller II’s release of his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election — and a blindsiding by his own boss, Attorney General William Barr.