Big news this week for the EPA. According to Politico, President Obama is expected to nominate Gina McCarthy as the department’s next administrator. In her role as the head of the U.S. EPA air and radiation office, McCarthy helped push through regulations curbing mercury and soot emissions from power plants, while still maintaining a good relationship with the industry. Also expected to receive an appointment today is MIT professor Ernest Moniz as energy secretary. (Washington Post).
Looking East, Russia and the United States are now the main allies in the fight to protect polar bears under a global treaty on endangered species. The treaty is being reviewed this week at a conference in Bangkok. The treaty is entitled the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the Russian-American proposal would grant polar bears the highest level of protection, banning international commercial trade in skins, furs and other items made from bears. Canada and Denmark (representing Greenland) are expected to oppose the ban.
Water pollution issues in China made new headlines over the weekend. A chemical spill at a fertilizer factory in Changzhi on Dec. 31 was kept mum for the past two months as the Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group stayed generally silent. The spill affected at least 28 villages, a number of cities and a total of more than one million people. An official investigation into the spill resulted in the punishment of 39 people, including the mayor of Changzhi, who was removed from his post. With factories like Tianji dumping millions of tons of wastewater per year, Chinese officials are expected to discuss management solutions at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress beginning on Tuesday.