Nate Rott

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When Hurricane Sandy swept up the Eastern Seaboard in 2012, it left a trail of damage from Florida to Maine. Subways were inundated in New York City. Hurricane-force winds tore across New Jersey. Blizzard conditions walloped Appalachia.

With college classes going online because of COVID-19, Joe Spofforth put his double major in political economies and educational studies on hold to move West and find work. When the pandemic was over, he'd go back.

"You can get real into this stuff," the 21-year-old Ohioan said, grinning at his mountain surroundings as his fellow Montana Conservation Corps crew members saw, chop and lop branches and logs away from a dirt path — trail work.

Standing, unshowered, in the shade of a tall stand of lodgepole pine in northwest Montana, he said it's a bit scary though.

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In the aftermath of the Great Depression, with millions of Americans out of work, then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created one of the most celebrated public plans in U.S. history.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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The number of bald eagles in the lower 48 U.S. states — a population once on the brink of extinction — has quadrupled in the last dozen years to more than 316,000, federal wildlife officials say, despite steep declines in other American bird populations.

A new survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found there are more than 70,000 breeding pairs of the iconic raptor in the contiguous U.S. In the late 1960s, there were fewer than 500.

At a normal tide on a normal day on the Southern California coast, ankle-high waves glide over a narrow strip of gold sand. On one side sits the largest body of water in the world. On the other, a row of houses with a cumulative value in the hundreds of millions of dollars, propped on water-stained stilts.

Property value ebbs and flows, but when it comes to coastal real estate "the trend lines are pretty clear," says California state Sen. Ben Allen, squinting in the sun. "And they're not pretty."

Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo, has become the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

The Senate voted 51-40 Monday to confirm the Democratic congresswoman to lead the Interior Department, an agency that will play a crucial role in the Biden administration's ambitious efforts to combat climate change and conserve nature.

The Biden administration is moving to restore protections for migratory birds that were loosened under former President Donald Trump — a back-and-forth centering on the question of when it's illegal to kill them.

The Interior Department rescinded a controversial Trump-era legal opinion Monday that limited the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It also said it will soon propose a rule to replace one enacted at the end of the Trump administration that did the same.

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When is it illegal to kill a bird? The Biden administration is moving to restore protections for migratory birds, one of the many environmental rollbacks under former President Trump. NPR's Nathan Rott has more.

Agnes Boisvert, an ICU nurse at St. Luke's hospital in downtown Boise, Idaho, spends every day trying to navigate between two worlds. One is a swirl of beeping monitors, masked emotion and death; the other, she says, seems oblivious to the horrors occurring every hour of every day.

Tens of millions of Americans experienced at least a day last year shrouded in wildfire smoke. Entire cities were blanketed, in some cases for weeks, as unprecedented wildfires tore across the Western U.S., causing increases in hospitalizations for respiratory emergencies and concerns about people's longer-term health.

A new study finds those concerns are well founded.

Somewhere near his fifty-sixth straight hour of chasing flames, CalFire Captain Matt Newberry and his crew were hitting a wall. They'd been dispatched to the wildfire days earlier in the middle of the night. By the next morning, the fire had already ripped across 11,000 acres of Napa County, tearing even through the night the way fires do now.

Despite everything they'd done, hundreds of homes were in smolders.

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President Joe Biden's historic pick to manage the nation's public lands and natural resources promised to strike a balance between fossil fuel and renewable energy development during her confirmation hearing, Tuesday.

Congresswoman Deb Haaland would be not just the first Native American Interior Secretary, but also the first in a presidential cabinet. She faced tough — and, at times, misguided — questioning from Republican lawmakers worried about the president's climate goals.

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Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

In an effort to slow the nation's contribution to climate change, President Biden has signed an executive order to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

The much-anticipated move is one of several executive actions the president took on Wednesday to address the worsening climate crisis and the broader decline of the natural world, but it won't come without pushback.

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Updated 5:45pm Eastern Time

In one of his first acts in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming.

Updated at 9:37 p.m. ET

In a historic first, President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior, his transition team announced Thursday evening.

If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, would be the country's first Native American Cabinet secretary. Fittingly, she'd do so as head of the agency responsible for not only managing the nation's public lands but also honoring its treaties with the Indigenous people from whom those lands were taken.

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Signs posted at the entrance to the grocery store in northwest Montana told customers to wear a mask. Public health officials in Flathead County urged the same. Coronavirus infection rates here are among the highest in the state. Infection rates in the state are among the highest in the United States.

And still, Craig Mann walked out of the grocery store, past the signs and toward his truck, maskless and resolute.

The pandemic that everyone's talking about?

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Gray wolves, a species that has long been vilified and admired, will no longer receive federal protections under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48 U.S. states, the Trump administration announced Thursday.

Despite the cascade of other crises this year, climate change has emerged as a key election issue.

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