Vox Sentences: Methane emissions run free

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

The Trump administration wants to roll back regulations on dangerous methane emissions; Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte returns to his post nine days after he resigned.


The administration threatens progress on climate change again

Shutterstock
  • The Trump administration is planning a major rollback on the regulation of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and pollutant whose emissions are often linked to climate change. [WSJ / Timothy Puko]
  • In a reversal from Obama-era climate policies, the Environmental Protection Agency seeks to eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies control their methane emissions by inspecting and repairing leaks from across the supply chain. [Slate / Elliot Hannon]
  • This isn’t the first time Trump has moved to repeal environmental regulations. While in office, he has relaxed rules on vehicles’ carbon emissions while also vocally supporting America’s withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord. [Reuters / Timothy Gardner]
  • What makes this move notable, though, is some major energy companies’ opposition to it, despite the apparent benefit to them. BP America’s president penned an op-ed saying that regulating methane is the “right thing to do for the planet.” Both Exxon and Shell management asked the EPA to tighten rules around both existing and future methane emissions. [NYT / Lisa Friedman]
  • Smaller companies, however, have hailed the move, saying the Obama policy is too costly and often forces them to operate at a loss. [NYT / Lisa Friedman]
  • Methane, though less known than carbon dioxide, warms the planet on “steroids” for a decade or two — some 86 times as much as CO2 — before it decays. [Scientific American / Gayathri Vaidyanathan]
  • President Trump has famously called climate change a “hoax,” but the topic has taken center stage in the runup to the 2020 presidential election. From Greenland’s ice melts to forest fires burning everywhere from California to the Amazon and major floods devastating farmlands across the US, this has been a year of record for many environmental disasters, which looser methane emission laws could exacerbate. [CNBC / Emma Newburger]

Conte makes a comeback

  • It took just over a week for Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to resign from the nation’s governing coalition and to accept an all-new mandate to form a new government, effectively shoving Italy’s far-right group back to the sidelines. [Guardian / Angela Giuffrida]
  • Let’s break this down. On August 20, Conte, who had served in office for 14 months after his party won the Italian election, stepped down from the top post. He cited as his main reason Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right party that co-formed the leadership, who weakened the country through his euroskeptic provocations and anti-migrant crackdowns — but mostly through his repeated calls for a new election in a bid to become prime minister himself. [Financial Times / Hannah Roberts and Davide Ghiglione]
  • So, come Wednesday night, Conte’s anti-establishment party and the mainstream center-left Democratic Party — two groups that have frequently butted heads in Italian politics — came together and reached a deal to preside over the legislative body. President Sergio Mattarella gave his blessing, in the form of a formal mandate, Thursday morning. [Washington Post / Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli]
  • Since the European Union’s fiscal crisis broke out a decade ago, Italy has seen some of the established political groups that governed the country since the end of World War II fade into the background, or even disappear. As Jason Horowitz writes for the New York Times, “history makes the new coalition a marriage of convenience between sworn political enemies, which may prove no more stable, or less conflict-ridden, than the government it is replacing.” [NYT / Jason Horowitz]
  • For what it’s worth, the unity between Conte and the Democratic Party limits the power held by the hard right and Salvini, who called the new government “a real theft of democracy” on Thursday. During the previous government’s 14 months in power, Salvini had suggested Italy’s low birthrate and struggling economy was used to “import immigrants,” while he amped up xenophobic rhetoric by promising to expel half a million unauthorized immigrants from the nation. [CNN / Livia Borghese and Kara Fox]

Miscellaneous

  • Professor Matthew McConaughey? The Oscar-winning actor will return to the University of Texas, this time as a professor of practice at the Department of Radio-Television-Film, starting this fall semester. [Dallas Morning News / Rebekah Allen]
  • In more education news, Sasha Obama, former President Barack Obama’s youngest daughter, is set to start classes at the University of Michigan next week. Her sister, Malia, will begin her third year in Harvard this fall. [Detroit News / Kim Kozlowski]
  • The clothing brand Forever 21 may soon declare bankruptcy after negotiations with possible lenders for additional financing have stalled, according to an exclusive report from Bloomberg. [Bloomberg / Eliza Ronalds-Hannon and Lauren Coleman-Lochner]
  • Travel-size hotel toiletries may soon be a thing of the past, as the Marriott — the world’s largest hotel chain, which owns other brands such as Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, and Sheraton — will switch to larger tubes of bath gel, shampoo, and conditioner in an effort to reduce plastic waste. [CNN / Jordan Valinsky]

Verbatim

“He knows exactly what he’s done. And I hope he comes clean about it.” [Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew, Duke of York, when she was 17 and dismisses the duke’s repeated denials / Washington Examiner]


Watch this: The scandalous painting that helped create modern art

Western art followed the same rules for centuries. Until Olympia. [YouTube / Marie Cascione and Coleman Lowndes]


Read more

Wall Street won’t save us from Trump’s trade war

Are we doing enough to prevent human extinction?

On eating watermelon in front of white people: “I’m not as free as I thought”

How not to get scammed, according to a former con artist

Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special targets Michael Jackson’s accusers, #MeToo, and cancel culture