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“Disheartening.” “A stab in the back.” “An about-face.” That was the way some described President Joe Biden’s decision last week to speed up new wall construction along 20 miles of the U.S. Mexican border in Texas. The administration waived more than 26 environmental and historic preservation laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and safeguards for Native Americans.
Construction workers erect steel forms for a section of border wall in the Rio Grande Valley, October 2019. | Credit: Jaime Rodriguez, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
The Colorado River Basin and the Southwest are in a prolonged drought made worse by climate change. So, it’s not surprising that there has been outrage expressed by some that Arizona has been allowing a Saudi Arabian firm to pump groundwater to grow alfalfa for that country’s dairy cows.
Alfalfa growing in Arizona | Credit: Chris English/Creative Commons
In the 1980s, then-president Ronald Reagan claimed that “trees were producing more air pollution than automobiles.” While the assertion was demonstrably false, there was a kernel of truth to it. Some trees, like oaks and poplars, emit a compound called isoprene, which interacts with nitrogen oxide from coal-fired power plants and vehicle emissions to create ozone, aerosols, and other pollutants. Isoprene, which many people haven’t heard of, is the second-highest emitted hydrocarbon on Earth.
Credit: RegalShave/Creative Commons
The United Auto Workers (UAW) strike has entered its third week with walkouts at five auto plants and numerous distribution centers in 20 states. As workers picketed this past weekend, they were joined by…environmentalists, which some might find surprising, given one of the key concerns of the union is job security as the industry transitions to electric vehicles.
United Auto Workers fight for a fair wage, better benefits, and a secure retirement in Iowa, in 2021. | Credit: Lance Cheung, USDA