By Maddie Stone
If you own a Tesla, you might be accustomed to waiting a long time when your car needs a repair. You might have also noticed there aren’t a lot of independent shops able to take on the job. But that could start to change soon, thanks to a groundbreaking new “right-to-repair” law Massachusetts voters approved at the polls this month.
On November 3, Bay State residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of Question 1, a ballot measure that requires auto manufacturers grant vehicle owners and third-party repair shops access to wireless data needed to fix cars. The measure will apply to all automakers whose vehicles stream so-called “telematic” data via wireless networks, but it could be particularly significant for Tesla, maker of some of the most connected and computerized cars in America. …
By Shannon Osaka and Nathanael Johnson
Just a month before he won the U.S. presidential election in 2016, Donald Trump vowed to spend his time in office systematically slashing government rules. “I would say 70 percent of regulations can go,” Trump told a crowd of town hall attendees in New Hampshire. “It’s just stopping businesses from growing.”
Now, four years later, it looks like Trump did his best to keep those promises. Over the course of his term, Trump has erased or watered-down dozens upon dozens of regulations designed to keep pollutants out of the water, air, and soil. He has allowed oil and gas companies to leak planet-warming methane into the air. He has told power plants that they can keep emitting dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. …
By Joseph Winters
China and Japan are among the “ many, many countries “ flooding U.S. beaches with plastic waste.
At least, that’s what President Trump said in late 2018 as he signed the first Save Our Seas Act. “All the time we’re being inundated by debris from other countries,” he stated, calling those other countries “abusers” and promising to crack down on them. “I will continue to do everything I can to stop other nations from making our oceans into their landfills.”
Trump’s remarks — and much of the ongoing discussion about the United States’ responsibility to address the plastic pollution crisis — seem to be rooted in a landmark 2015 research paper that, for the first time, attempted to estimate how much ocean-bound plastic pollution was coming from which countries. That study used 2005 World Bank data on per capita waste generation and how much of that waste was plastic to estimate countries’ total plastic waste output in 2010. Based on the authors’ findings, China and five other Asian nations were responsible for most of the 9.4 million tons (8.5 million metric tons) of plastic waste entering the oceans each year. The United States barely made the list of top polluters, clocking in as the 20th biggest contributor to ocean plastic debris. …
By Kate Yoder
The results of the 2020 election left people puzzling over the minds of their fellow Americans. What were they thinking? No matter where you look, it seems like Trump and Biden voters really don’t understand each other.
Listening to what the other side has to say, whether you’re talking about immigration or the environment, can seem like peering into an alternate universe. It’s not just the divergent political positions; there’s something foreign about the language. Republicans talk about liberty, riots, and the “socialist agenda.” Democrats speak of empathy, protests, and the “climate crisis.”
And where their vocabulary does overlap, definitions have parted ways. Depending on who you’re talking to, the Green New Deal is either the only path to avert catastrophe, or a plot to steal your hamburgers. …
By Grist Staff
Imagine a green future for a hot second (no pun intended). The United States and the rest of the world have taken substantive action to slow (and even reverse) climate change. Crisis averted! You’re probably envisioning a lot of the following: snazzy yet affordable electric cars, smog-free city skylines, and an electrical grid powered by sweet, sweet, renewable energy.
Well, you likely don’t need the staff of Grist to tell you that the nation is nowhere near approaching that eco-friendly dreamscape.
In fact, the U.S. is currently on a path away from that green dream. Bigly. The Trump Administration is in the process of finalizing the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. (It will shortly become the only one in the world that contributes more than 2 percent of global emissions without being a member of the landmark climate pact). Emissions have been on the rise again after years of incremental dips — slowed this year only because of a deadly pandemic. And the nation’s most vulnerable communities are routinely forced to reckon with environmental contaminants, extreme weather, and industrial pollution. …
By Eve Andrews
My home state of Pennsylvania is always on the receiving end of some heavy pandering by presidential candidates: some feeble stabs at the Sheetz vs. Wawa convenience store debate, pointlessly coy hints at an allegiance with the Flyers or Penguins, a professed devotion to one hideous sandwich or another.
Generally, I can tolerate it. Part of the business of politics in general, and elections specifically, is to appeal to swing states using these kinds of caricatures. …
By Zoya Teirstein
“We should be a little nervous,” U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California said to a room full of his fellow conservatives at a political conference in Georgia last October.
McCarthy had little obvious reason to be on edge — the House minority leader was in the majority that day at the Washington Examiner’s annual political summit at Sea Island, a five-star resort. …
By Nathanael Johnson
Ever since workers strung the wires of the first electrical grid in 1882, buildings have been gobbling up energy. But what if that relationship were upended so that buildings fitted with solar panels produced more electricity than they consumed?
Turns out, that’s already well underway: The number of buildings constructed so ingeniously that they sometimes feed energy to the grid has nearly doubled in the last two years.
The nonprofit New Buildings Institute keeps a list of these “zero energy” offices, schools, and libraries. Until 2018, there were 174 buildings around the United States and Canada that got the stamp of approval for meeting this mark over a full year. Since then, 136 more have hit that target. And there are more than a thousand other buildings around the U.S. …
By Teresa Chin, Jesse Nichols, and Joseph Winters
With so much focus on the 2020 presidential race, it’s easy to forget there’s also a lot at stake elsewhere on the ballot. Seats in the Senate, House, and state legislatures — not to mention quite a few governors’ roles — are just a few of the positions up for grabs on Election Day. That means voters will have an opportunity to shift the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats on both a local and national level.
In some of the nation’s most heated Congressional races, concern over climate change just might be the issue that tips the scales. Worry, after all, is a particularly significant emotion during elections in that it tends to mobilize voters rather than paralyze them, according to Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. …
By Shannon Osaka
It was a cold February day in Salem, Oregon, and Republican state senators were fleeing the capitol.
It was weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the country and kept Americans huddled inside. So members of Oregon’s legislature were still showing up for work to haggle over language, introduce bills, and cast votes. But on this particular morning, 11 of the 12 Republican senators in the 30-person body were nowhere to be found. Sergeants-at-arms searched Capitol offices, then gave up; eventually, the Senate was forced to adjourn, lacking the two-thirds majority needed to conduct basic business.
The Republicans had bolted from Salem to avoid voting on a policy aimed at slashing planet-warming pollution. The bill on the table, H.B. 2020, would have put a price tag on carbon emissions — long considered one of the simplest and most efficient ways to cut greenhouse gases. It seemed like a no-brainer for a state that, like many of its West Coast neighbors, has faced record-breaking heat waves, disappearing glaciers, and choking wildfires in recent years. …