US FOREST SERVICE BLOCKS ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit wrote Thursday that the U.S. Forest Service "abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources" by approving a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would have crossed the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, according to The Associated Press.
"We trust the United States Forest Service to 'speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,' " the three-judge panel wrote.
The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., cited Dr. Seuss's famous book "The Lorax" in their Thursday ruling against a permit for a natural gas pipeline originally planned to run across the Appalachian Trail.
A review of the permit records led the court to its decision, according to the Staunton News Leader.
"This conclusion is particularly informed by the Forest Service's serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company's deadlines," the court's opinion continues.
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John KerryJohn KerryPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space MORE: TRUMP'S ACTIONS 'PROFOUNDLY DANGEROUS' FOR PLANET: Former Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday called for the world to make a more concerted effort to combat climate change, saying that "if we fail, future generations will judge us all as failures, not just this president."
Kerry wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times that he was recently struck by a statement journalist Bob Woodward made about President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE.
"The president, [Woodward] said, 'makes decisions often without a factual basis.' This isn't a mere personality quirk of the leader of the free world. It is profoundly dangerous for the entire planet," Kerry, who has repeatedly criticized Trump during his presidency, writes.
Kerry notes how ever since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, "those of us in the fight have worked to demonstrate that the American people are still in."
But the onetime presidential candidate argues that the test won't be if cities and states can make up for Trump's "rejection of reality."
"The test is whether the nations of the world will pull out of the mutual suicide pact that we've all passively joined through an inadequate response to this crisis," he writes.
Kerry goes on to note many of the examples of the globe's shifting climate and the damage that it has caused. He also cites new reports that warn of significant consequences to the earth's climate in the future if problems related to it aren't addressed.
"Every day we lose ground debating alternative facts," he writes. "It's not a 'he said/she said' -- there's truth, and then there's Mr. Trump."
WATCHDOG ASKS EPA TO INVESTIGATE PRUITT'S FOX NEWS LINKS: A pair of left-leaning watchdog groups are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to internally investigate the agency's past dealings with Fox News.
Democracy Forward and Restore Public Trust made the request in a letter sent to the EPA's Office of Inspector General on Thursday.
In the letter, the groups take issue with a Daily Beast report that said producers from "Fox & Friends" and an aide to former EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing EPA bans use of pesticide linked to developmental problems in children MORE discussed a script before Pruitt appeared on the popular morning program in 2017.
Emails reportedly revealed that Pruitt's team played a large part in what topics would be discussed on the show and what would be asked. They also showed that Pruitt was given pre-interview questions.
Fox News said in late November that it was planning to discipline employees who engaged in the conversations with Pruitt's team. The network did not provide details on who was being disciplined.
More on the controversy here.
OIL COMPANY PLAYED BIG ROLE IN INFLUENCE CAR EMISSIONS RULE WEAKENING:
The Trump administration's decision to roll back auto emission standards this past summer was in part influenced by the country's largest oil refiner, according to a New York Times report Thursday.
A covert lobbying campaign launched by Marathon Petroleum sent dozens of letters to members of Congress promoting the need to weaken the Obama-era emissions standards, all based largely on the premise that energy conservation was no longer needed due to the country's recent surge in oil production, the Times reports.
The company successfully launched its information campaign with the help of powerful oil-industry groups and a conservative policy network financed by Charles Koch, according to the report.
The letters sent to lawmakers over the summer on behalf of Marathon Petroleum included the argument: "With oil scarcity no longer a concern," Americans should be given a "choice in vehicles that best fit their needs," according to a draft obtained by the Times. A review of correspondence later sent between a dozen members of Congress and regulators included exact phrases and sentences from the industry group's talking points.
In August, the Trump administration formally submitted a proposal to weaken the vehicle emission rules first established by Obama in 2012, following months of anticipation on the issue.
In a major rebuke of a key pillar of Obama's greenhouse gas-cutting legacy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) declared that the heightened emissions standards set to take effect for cars built from 2021 and 2026 were unreasonable for both economic and safety reasons.
Instead, the EPA and DOT are now proposing freezing the standards at their planned 2020 level, canceling any future strengthening.
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OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
-California adopts landmark river plan to bring back salmon (KQED)
-Chile gets big roll out of electric buses (Reuters)
-Google Maps can now direct you to Lime scooters and bikes (The Verge)
-China demands developed countries 'pay their debts' on climate change (The Guardian)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out Thursday's stories ...
-House funding bill scraps Arctic icebreaker program
-Tasmania builds first road out of recycled glass bottles, plastic bags
-Court quotes 'The Lorax' in ruling blocking permit for pipeline to cross national forests
-John Kerry: Trump's actions on climate change are 'profoundly dangerous' for planet
-Watchdog groups call on EPA to probe past interaction with Fox News
-Oil company played major role in influencing car emissions rollback: report
-Solar power industry blames Trump tariffs for slowing growth