Air quality worsens during Trump presidency

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Air quality in the U.S. has declined over the past 2 years since President Trump took office, reports AP.

The big picture: The EPA is expected to issue emissions regulations for coal-fired power plants on Wednesday that are more modest than an Obama-era rule that never took effect — the latest Trump administration move to loosen environmental rules. Trump previously said the U.S. has "the cleanest air in the world," and touted that it has improved throughout his presidency. Wildfires contribute to poor air quality, and the West Coast has seen 2 major seasons in 2017 and 2018, AP found.

By the numbers: There have been 15% more days with unhealthy air in the U.S. during the past 2 years than there were on average from 2013 to 2016.

  • 532 metro areas reported a combined 4,134 days of poor air quality last year.
  • There were 140 instances accounted for in 2017 and 2018 when cities reached the 2 lowest categories of "very unhealthy" and "hazardous," per AP.
  • Nearly 100,000 people die annually because of bad air quality.

But, but, but: Per AP: "Scientists say that it is too early to see the effects of changes in environmental policy of the Trump administration."

  • However, the story notes that scientists believe that Trump's moves to weaken environmental regulations and ease enforcement could transform "what has so far been a modest, two-year backslide into a dangerous trend."

Meanwhile, despite the most recent decline in air quality, there are fewer poor days presently than there were in the early 2000s, 1990s and 1980s.

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Supreme Court to decide on release of Trump’s financial records

President Trump. Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Contributor/Getty Images

The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to take on three cases involving President Trump's finances to determine whether he can block the release of his records.

Why it matters: The court's ruling could give the American public a look at the president's finances after he has gone to great lengths to keep them under wraps.

Bloomberg: UK elections are the "canary in the coal mine" to 2020 Democrats

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the climate meeting in Madrid, Dec. 10, 2019. Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling Boris Johnson's decisive victory in Britain's election the "canary in the coal mine" for the Democratic Party about its chances of unseating President Trump in 2020.

Why it matters: The latest entry to the Democratic presidential primary field said Friday the U.K. results reinforce the idea that it's simply not enough for Democrats to assume they will beat Trump next year.

Ukraine still seeking White House meeting for Zelensky

Trump and Zelensky at the UN in September. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters in Washington on Friday that Ukraine is still working to schedule a White House meeting for President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: Kuleba emphasized that Ukraine needs strong support from the U.S. despite the current "turmoil" — a reference to impeachment proceedings. His status as the first member of Zelensky's government to visit Washington underlines the fact that Zelensky's own visit — which U.S. officials linked to Zelensky announcing investigations sought by President Trump — still has not happened.

Scoop: House Dems attend Trump's holiday party amid impeachment

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet guests at the Congressional Ball at the White House. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Half a dozen House Democrats attended the White House Congressional Ball last night while their colleagues on the Judiciary Committee worked late into the night on articles of impeachment, according to two sources familiar with the event.

Why it matters: If you're looking for clues about which House Democrats might vote against impeaching President Trump next week, one tempting place to start is with those who chose to be Trump's guests at the annual ball — but that doesn't mean the two lists will totally overlap.

Nothing but sunshine for AVs in Florida

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Florida has become a hotbed for self-driving cars, thanks to its mild weather, unique demographics, lenient laws and an ambitious state senator.

Why it matters: States at the forefront of autonomous vehicle testing stand to reap the economic benefits — and perhaps problems, too — of self-driving cars.

U.S. and China reach "phase one" trade deal to avert December tariffs

Photo: Artyom Ivanov/TASS via Getty Images

The U.S. and China agreed to a "phase one" trade deal on Friday, which President Trump touted in a series of tweets.

The state of play: The deal averts a new round of tariffs scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 15, and a Chinese official said that the U.S. would reduce its tariffs on Chinese goods in stages, per Bloomberg. The deal includes an agreement from China to increase imports from the U.S. and purchase agricultural goods.

Scoop: The World Bank told Taiwanese staff to get Chinese passports

This year, the World Bank told current and prospective employees of Taiwanese nationality they must present Chinese travel documents in order to maintain or pursue employment.

Why it matters: China has recently ramped up its campaign to systematically force Taiwan and its citizens out of the international community. But forcing out its own staff in this way violates World Bank employment principles.

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