Supreme Court Puts the Brakes on Obama’s Clean Power Plan

The coal industry is breathing easier after a surprise decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the court voted to halt implementation of President Obama’s plan to address climate change until legal challenges to the regulations are resolved.

The Clean Power Plan would require states to lower carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production. Coal-producing West Virginia is one of 29 states and state agencies challenging Obama’s plan.

“This is a monumental victory for West Virginia, the country and the rule of law,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey told reporters after the court’s decision. “But most importantly, this Supreme Court decision is a win for coal miners and their families.”

LISTEN: “Your Environment Update for February 10, 2016”

Coal production has been on the decline in recent years—in part because of new regulations and a glut of cheap natural gas. That has led to a loss of mining jobs in coal states like West Virginia.

“The critical reason we asked for a stay is because harm was happening right now here in West Virginia,” Morrisey said. “We believe there is a very real likelihood of success on the merits. And we know that five justices agree with that.”

The court was divided 5-to-4 on the temporary freeze of the Clean Power Plan. Pennsylvania has been among the states working to implement the plan instead of fighting it. The Obama administration said it will continue to move forward with efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third by 2030.

 

Why Biodiversity in Our Diet Matters

For many of us, chocolate is a must on Valentine’s Day. But even chocolate addicts might be amazed by the wild-looking plants that their chocolate comes from.

“I entered into a very dense forest, and there are these trees that had these things hanging off of them that look kind of like ridged footballs,” says author Simran Sethi about her recent trip to a cacao farm. “And you split it open and there are these pulpy, white fruits inside. And I dug out these fruits, and I popped them into my mouth. My eyes were popping out of my head.”

Sethi says some tasted like Sweet Tarts. Others tasted more nutty. And this complexity of flavor, she says, is a result of the vast biodiversity in cacao plants.

“Every single region in the world that grows cacao is known for a particular kind of taste.”

In her book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, Sethi explored how biodiversity is often lacking from our everyday diets. In fact, she found that 95 percent of the world’s calories come from just 30 species. And that could have major implications for global food security.

“Our diet has now collapsed globally into wheat, rice, corn, soybeans and palm oil. And we’re growing the same types of foods, and we’re growing the same varieties. The problem with doing this is if one of them succumbs to a disease [or] a pest, then what happens? We’ll lose them.”

To read an excerpt from Sethi’s book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, click here.