Top 10 Environmental News Stories of 2015

More goods than bad, but some of each.

Here are the top ten stories, at least as I see them:

  1. A Warming World. 2015 will almost certainly be the warmest year on record. This is one more confirmation of recent studies indicating that either there was no climate hiatus or it has ended.
  2. Saving Wetlands and Water Bodies. EPA and the Army Corp issued their long-awaited guidelines on federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The rules are now tied up in litigation.
  3. Renewable Energy. As part of an overall budget deal at the end of 2015, Congress extended the tax credits for solar and wind energy for five years.
  4. No New Legislation on Climate, Air or Water. That’s basically good news for the environment, given the inclinations of the current majority.
  5. Whaling. On the negative side, Japan announced it would resume whaling in the South Pacific, notwithstanding an International Court of Justice ruling that dismissed its purported scientific justification for the whaling.
  6. The Pope Takes a Stand.  Pope Francis called for urgent action on climate change, building on a position that goes back to his predecessor.
  7. Interstate air pollution. On remand from the Supreme Court, the D.C. Circuit remanded portions of EPA’s interstate air pollution rule, but it left the current rule in effect pending EPA’s modifications..
  8. Toxic air pollution. The Supreme Court held in Michigan v. EPA that EPA must consider cost in deciding whether to regulate toxic air pollution from power plants. On remand, the D.C. Circuit left the rule in place, and EPA announced a proposed finding in response to the Court’s ruling.
  9. EPA’s Climate Change Regulations. EPA issued a major regulation to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. The D.C. Circuit will decide early next year whether to stay the regulations pending appeal.
  10. International Climate Agreement. Almost two hundred countries reached an agreement on a framework for reducing carbon emissions in Paris.

All in all, quite a year to remember.