The Stream, June 3, 2020: U.S. EPA Limits State Ability to Block Energy Infrastructure Projects

The Global Rundown

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits states’ ability to deny energy infrastructure projects. Gunmen in Niger cut off water supply to a refugee camp housing 35,000 displaced people. Researchers survey the effects of recent hurricanes on water quality in North Carolina. A major fuel spill into Russia’s river Ambarnaya will take decades to recover from, officials say. Australia’s crucial Murray-Darling river system teeters closer to collapse.

“Every ecological indicator you can think of has been in decline [in the basin]. Socially and economically it’s in major decline as well.” –Maryanne Slattery, a water consultant in Canberra, Australia, in reference to the ongoing degradation of the country’s Murray-Darling river system. Weather extremes are commonplace in Australia, but climate change and population growth have put an exceptionally high level of strain on the water system. As water vanishes, a host of problems, such as crops failures, mass fish kills, and ecosystem collapse, are plaguing the citizens and the flora and fauna that rely on the Murray-Darling. Bloomberg 

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By The Numbers

35,000 Displaced people whose water access was cut off this weekend after dozens of armed men attacked a refugee camp, in the western town of Intikane, Niger. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is working to provide water in the wake of the attack. Associated Press

20,000 tonnes Oil that spilled from a power station into the river Ambarnaya in the industrial city of Norilsk, Russia, last week. Officials are calling the spill an “ecological catastrophe” and say it will likely take decades to fully restore the waterway. Reuters 

Science, Studies, and Reports

With June 1 marking the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, researchers are analyzing the water quality impacts of two storms that hit North Carolina in recent years. The study, published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology, found that Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 both disproportionately affected minority communities, and also suggested that interventions such as government land buyouts, forest restoration or wetland conservation could help mitigate the worst water quality risks from hurricanes. Science Daily 

On the Radar

On Monday, the U.S. EPA implemented a new rule that limits states’ ability to deny permits for energy infrastructure projects. The new rule comes as Democratic states like California and Washington halt various fossil fuel projects using their authority under the U.S. Clean Water Act, decisions that the Trump administration says are an overextension of state power. Reuters

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