US environmental regulatory rollback a breakdown of the year - World
2019-12-28 18:25

WASHINGTON -- The year of 2019 is one of climate change. It saw the hottest June and July on record, dwindling sea-ice coverage, and more frequent extreme weather.


However, the U.S. administration responded this global challenge by comprehensively rolling back its environment policies.


On Thursday, U.S. influential magazine Science named U.S. moves to get things backwards in tackling climate change as a breakdown of the year. The U.S. government has forged ahead with a range of policies that make it more difficult for the United States and the world to curb emissions of greenhouse gases.


It came as a rising proportion of Americans believes climate change is real, humans are contributing, and government is responsible to make a difference.


A Pew Research Center survey showed that 57 percent of Americans now considered climate change a "major threat" to the country, up from about 40 percent in 2013. But public opinions did not translate into political actions.

皮尤研究中心(pew Research Center)的调查显示,57%的美国人认为气候变化是对国家的“重大威胁”,高于2013年的40%。但舆论没有转化为政治行动。

"To really deliver on our climate goals, we do need strong federal action," said Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

''为了实现我们的目标,我们必须采取更强力的行动'',皮尤研究中心的的雷切尔·克里特斯(Rachel Cleetus)说。

Researchers from Harvard University Law School who tracked environmental regulatory rollbacks of the current U.S. administration found a total of 66 rules have been scrapped or relaxed since September 2017.

哈佛大学法学院(Harvard University Law School)的研究人员追踪了美国现任政府在环境监管方面的倒退,发现自2017年9月以来,总共有66项规定被取消或放宽。

A similar tracking effort by Columbia University Law School showed that the administration and Congress scaled back or wholly eliminated 132 federal climate mitigation and adaptation measures.

哥伦比亚大学法学院(Columbia University Law School)的一项类似跟踪调查显示,政府和国会缩减或完全取消了132项联邦政府的气候缓解和适应措施。

A landmark move is that the United States submitted formal notification of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Nov. 4, making it the only nation among nearly 200 signatories that abandoned this global agenda on combating climate change.


The U.S. government brook no delay since that is the earliest date it can apply for quitting. It is "incredibly short-sighted," as Nature Conservancy, an environmental organization in the United States, put it.

美国政府不能拖延,因为这是它可以申请退出的最早日期。正如美国环保组织大自然保护协会(Nature Conservancy)所说,这是“极其短视的”。

On Nov. 5, a global team of over 11,000 scientists from more than 150 countries declared a climate emergency and warned the catastrophic threat if humanity failed to address the climate crisis.


Deke Arndt, chief of climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said at a conference call that July of 2019 was in the vicinity of a record without a strong El Nino being present, so it was "almost entirely due to climate change."

美国国家海洋和大气管理局(NOAA)的气候监测主管埃阿恩特(e Arndt)在一次电话会议上表示,2019年7月的厄尔尼诺现象几乎没有出现过,因此“几乎完全是气候变化造成的”。

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed in August to loosen emission control of methane, one of the greenhouse gases that resulted in global warming, by abandoning federal regulations that require the oil and gas industry to install technology that monitors and curbs methane leaks in wells, pipelines and other operational facilities.


A team of researchers led by the University of Michigan found unexpectedly that emissions over five major cities along the East Coast are twice the EPA estimate for methane and almost 10 times the estimate for natural gas.

密歇根大学(University of Michigan)领导的一组研究人员出人意料地发现,美国东海岸5个主要城市的甲烷排放量是美国环保署估计的两倍,是天然气排放量的近10倍。

Moves giving favors to heavy-pollution industries but causing damages to the environment also went to EPA's decision in June to overturn the Obama-era attempt to restrict emissions from coal plants by relying more on cleaner fuels.


EPA's replacement rule, Affordable Clean Energy (ACE), allows U.S. states to make their own decisions on ways and timetables to cut emissions, demanding much smaller carbon reductions, which is part of President Donald Trump's pledge to revitalize the country's coal industry.


Actually, by EPA's own estimate in 2018, the ACE is expected to increase emissions of carbon dioxide and the level of emissions of certain pollutants in the atmosphere, which would result in 470 to 1,400 additional premature deaths and up to 96,000 new cases of exacerbated asthma annually by 2030.


"This rule is yet another example of the Trump Administration pandering to fossil fuel industry interests at the expense of human health and the environment," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson of the U.S. state of Washington.

“这项规定是特朗普政府以牺牲人类健康和环境为代价来迎合化石燃料行业利益的又一个例子,”美国华盛顿州总检察长鲍勃·弗格森(Bob Ferguson)说。

Washington is among a coalition of 22 U.S. states and seven local governments that sued the Trump administration over its decision to relax restrictions on coal-fired power plants.


However, the efforts at the country's local levels to reduce carbon emissions were sometimes cracked down. On Sept. 18, Trump announced that the U.S. government is revoking California's authority to set stricter auto emissions rules.


"By revoking that authority, the administration is eliminating a tool that is reducing emissions, improving vehicle mileage standards and saving consumers 460 billion U.S. dollars at the pump," said California Senator Dianne Feinstein.

加州参议员范士丹(Dianne Feinstein)说:“通过撤销这一权力,政府正在消除一种工具,这种工具正在减少排放、提高汽车里程标准,并为消费者节省4600亿美元的油钱。”

Even the auto industry itself viewed the original stricter standards as a key tool in fighting climate change, especially because transportation is now the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.


The regulatory rollback is all-encompassing. EPA proposed in November to loosen regulations on how coal-fired power plants in the country dispose of waste laden with heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury.


The U.S. government also rolled back in the enforcement of a law to protect endangered species, clearing the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling in areas where protected species live.


"Threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants in our national parks already face habitat changes and impacts of a climate crisis that is accelerating every year," said Bart Melton, Wildlife Program Director of National Parks Conservation Association.


A study showed an almost 30 percent drop in the number of North American birds since 1970, due to habitat losses and ecosystems under stress from pollution, climate change, and development. The bird count dwindling is listed as another breakdown of the year on Science magazine.


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