People, planet, and the path ahead

The Republican shift on climate change since George W. Bush

In this edition: Behind looming budget cuts at the EPA, a changed GOP; China positioning itself as a global leader on climate action; How climate affects the weather.

What we're writing

President Trump shakes hands with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, center, on Feb. 28, before signing an executive order directing the EPA to withdraw the Waters of the United States rule, an Obama action that expanded the number of waterways protected under the Clean Water Act.
Andrew Harnik/AP/File | Caption

Why the EPA faces big cuts under Trump budget

Environmental issues have become more polarized even since the years of George W. Bush. Why? The stakes for both parties surrounding climate change have risen. An anti-regulatory philosophy has hardened on the right. And some say the Obama administration, tugging the EPA to the left, set the stage for a conservative backlash. // Zack Colman 

How climate influences weather: six questions

Extreme rains in California. A "snowless Chicago." An early spring in much of the US.  Weather events like these prompt questions about what role climate change may be playing. Here's what scientists say. // Amanda Paulson

Its coal use falling, is China the new leader on climate action?

Reforms to the coal industry are central to Beijing’s climate campaign. In the face of US retrenchment on climate change, China may sieze an opportunity on the world stage. // Michael Holtz

Southwest cities expand, yet draw less water

Phoenix reduced its residential water consumption in the past decade despite a 23 percent rise in population. This and the story below are parts of the western water series that kicked off here the previous week. // Zack Colman

Biggest US water users learning to use less

In the Southwest and beyond, irrigation technology and other steps such as planting 'cover crops' to enrich the soil are making a difference. // Zack Colman

What we're reading

Peculiar outlook: warmer climate, slower snowmelt

Snow-fed rivers are expected to run lower as snow melts earlier. // The Associated Press

Burger King animal feed linked to deforestation

The green group Mighty Earth says it has documented a pattern of forest-burning. // The Guardian

Permafrost thaw portends huge carbon release

Changes in Canada send carbon-rich mud into streams and rivers. // InsideClimate News

Flint residents paying for water that's still unsafe

Michigan ends a program that helped cover water bills in the wake of Flint's lead-in-water revelations. // The Washington Post

What's trending

Visitors to Central Park pass a flowering rhododendron on Feb. 28 in New York. Some scientists say spring may be record early in about half the nation in 2017.
Mark Lennihan/AP | Caption

Spring, unusually early

“It poses significant challenges for planning and managing important issues that affect our economy and our society.” // Jake Weltzin, a USGS ecologist and the executive director of the USA National Phenology Network, quoted in The Christian Science Monitor

Top Trump advisers split on Paris Agreement

"Mr. Trump wants to make a decision by next week, say people familiar with the White House’s debate on the climate pact, in order to announce [a Paris position alongside] his executive order to undo Mr. Obama’s climate regulations." // Coral Davenport, writing in The New York Times

Congress weighs in on 'social cost' of climate change

“[The government] should eliminate the use of the social cost of carbon until a credible value can be calculated.”   // Rep. Lamar Smith (R) of Texas, chair of the House Science Committee, quoted in The Washington Post

Ikea creates largest solar rooftop in Illinois

"It reduces our operating costs at that facility. We’ll be paying a lot less in electricity in the long run.” // Joseph Roth of Ikea, quoted by Yale Climate Connections