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How One Ski Town Rallied in a Warming World

When the Mount Ascutney ski resort closed in 2010 because of scant snow and mismanagement, it threatened to take with it the nearby community of West Windsor, Vt., population 1,099.

“Property values plummeted,” recalled Glenn Seward, who worked at the resort for 18 years, once as the director of mountain operations. The town’s general store, the gathering place of the community, also went broke and closed. “We were desperate,” Mr. Seward said.

That desperation led the community to hitch its fortune to the mountain, becoming a model for how a small ski area and its community can thrive in the era of climate change. Working with the state of Vermont and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, the town bought the failed ski area in 2015. But instead of allowing a private company to run the mountain, contracting out its operations, the local residents themselves would chart a sustainable, volunteer-driven path for the ski area.

Seven years later, Mount Ascutney and West Windsor are magnets for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

Numbers: A 2019 study showed that in northeastern states besides Vermont, at least half of ski areas will close by the mid 2050s if high greenhouse gas emissions continue.

You can read more on the turnaround here.

American agriculture is ravaging the air, soil and water. But a powerful lobby has concealed its damage. Watch the video from the NYT Opinion Section.

Coral Davenport

The Biden administration this week moved to tighten limits on the amount of mercury that can be discharged from coal-burning power plants.

Mercury is a neurotoxin that poses a particular danger to the brain development of children and fetuses. The Environmental Protection Agency has limited mercury emissions from coal plants since 2012. But, during the Trump administration, the agency concluded that the rule’s cost to industry outweighed its benefits and therefore it was no longer “appropriate and necessary.” That finding allowed the Trump administration to stop enforcing the mercury limit, even though it remained on the books.

On Monday, though, the administration said it would reinstate the Obama-era method of measuring the benefits of reducing air pollution. That would enable the E.P.A. to conclude that the costs of the rule to industry are offset by public health benefits such as prevention of disease and premature death. That, in turn, would provide the legal justification to enforce the existing mercury regulations.

As I wrote in an article on the mercury rule this week, the mercury announcement is among several recent actions taken or planned by the Biden administration aimed at strengthening and restoring environmental protections that had been rolled back by the Trump administration.

Quotable: “Sound science makes it clear that we need to limit mercury and toxins in the air to protect children and vulnerable communities from dangerous pollution,” Michael Regan, the E.P.A. administrator, said.

Lisa Friedman

A federal judge has nullified the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in the nation’s history, ruling that the Biden administration had violated the law by not taking climate change fully into account when analyzing the impact of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The case is a tricky one for President Biden, who campaigned on a promise to end new drilling leases on federal lands and waters.

Here’s how it happened: Biden initially tried to impose a moratorium on lease sales but a different federal judge last year blocked that move and ruled that he was required to proceed with the latest round, which was set under the Trump administration. The Interior Department ultimately sold off 1.7 million acres, netting $192 million.

Now, the administration needs to decide whether it will appeal the latest ruling, which appears to align with its position on drilling.

Why it matters: The case shows how regulatory decisions that disregard global warming are increasingly vulnerable to legal challenges.

Related: The Biden administration has canceled copper and nickel mining leases near the Boundary Waters wilderness area in Minnesota.

Melissa Martin, a chef and cookbook author, grew up immersed in the food and fishing culture of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast.

Her restaurant in New Orleans, Mosquito Supper Club, started in 2014 as a series of Cajun-themed parties and pop-ups, and gradually gained popularity for its seafood-focused cuisine and its homespun hospitality — gumbo is brought to the table in pots, along with potato salad, for guests to serve themselves. The food is distinct from the spicier, sausage-forward, often hybridized Cajun cooking common in New Orleans, whose roots mainly run to the inland prairies around Lafayette.

Now, though, she says she fears the environmental damage from climate change could mean the end of the region’s culinary traditions.

Land on Louisiana’s coast is vanishing at an alarming rate as sea levels rise. That’s also hastening coastal erosion, which eats away at crucial wetland habitat for fish and other wildlife. And the region has been pummeled by bigger and wetter storms, most recently Hurricane Ida, devastating the state’s seafood industry.

“When this land disappears, it takes with it a portion of our nation’s safety and food supply, and a long legacy of culture and traditions,” she wrote in her recent cookbook. “Water is our lifeline and our dark shadow.”

You can read more about Martin and the threats Louisiana’s seafood tradition in the article I wrote this week.

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