ON EARTH DAY, DURHAM MAYOR STEVE SCHEWEL CONCERNED ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING: In the summer of 1969, oily debris in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga burst into flames, searing the scourge of pollution into the public consciousness. “I remember Duke students beginning to talk about the environment in a new way,” Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said. Schewel thinks back to that first Earth Day, when his classmates rallied on the Duke University quad 10 months after the Cuyahoga combusted. “Well, I think we need it a lot more than we did when it began in 1970,” he said. Schewel says a warming world lends urgency to the Earth Day cause. “You and I are going to be fine, but our children and grandchildren, they won’t be unless we can change the way in which we interact with our environment,’ he said.
EPA'S SCOTT PRUITT IN HOT WATER OVER USING SMITHFIELD LOBBYIST'S CONDO: Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt met in his office last year with a veteran Washington lobbyist tied to the bargain-priced condo where Pruitt was living. Both Pruitt and lobbyist Steven Hart had previously denied Hart had conducted any recent business with EPA. The world's largest pork producer, Smithfield has been involved with efforts to clean up the bay since EPA fined the company $12.6 million in 1997 for illegally dumping hog waste into a tributary. EPA's press office did not respond to questions about Pruitt's meeting with Hart. On Pruitt's 2017 condo lease, a copy of which was reviewed by AP, Steven Hart's name was originally typed in as "landlord" but was scratched out. The name of his wife, health care lobbyist Vicki Hart, was scribbled in.
TRUMP APPOINTS COAL LOBBYIST AS SECOND IN COMMAND AT EPA: Until his nomination by President Donald Trump last fall, Wheeler worked as a lobbyist with a client list that included Murray Energy, one of the nation's largest coal mining companies. He accompanied Murray CEO Robert "Bob" Murray during a series of closed-door meetings to lobby the Trump administration to kill environmental regulations affecting coal mines. "Andrew Wheeler's coal credentials are without equal. He is, without question, a member of the coal industry's Hall of Fame," said Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. "Sadly, I am concerned that Andrew Wheeler's background means that he will never understand that saving coal is not the job of the EPA," Markey added. "It is the EPA's job to regulate coal to protect public health and the environment."
ENVIRONMENTALISTS GO TO COURT OVER OIL & GAS EMISSIONS DEREGULATION: Environmentalists are asking an appeals court to reinstate a rule restricting harmful methane emissions on U.S. lands, at least temporarily. Attorneys for 13 groups on Friday asked a federal appeals court in Denver to block an order by a lower court that halted the regulation. The rule required energy companies to capture methane gas instead of burning it or wasting it at drilling sites on public lands. The rule was imposed near the end of the Obama administration in 2016. The Trump administration is trying to reverse it. A U.S. judge in Wyoming blocked the rule earlier this month, saying it provided little public benefit but could be costly for industry.
CHINESE GOVERNMENT PUSHING INDUSTRY TO DEVELOP AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC CARS: Auto China 2018, which opens this week, follows Beijing's decision to allow full foreign ownership of Chinese automakers in a move to make the industry more flexible as it promotes electrics. The ruling Communist Party has transformed China into the biggest market for electrics with billions of dollars in subsidies to producers and buyers. Now, Beijing is winding down that support and shifting the financial burden to automakers with sales quotas that push them to develop models Chinese drivers want to buy. That is reflected in the auto show lineup: Global and Chinese brands including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co. plan to display dozens of electrics and hybrids, from luxurious SUVs to compacts priced as low as 152,000 yuan ($24,000).