Environment

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Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

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The Environmental Protection Agency is beginning life under a new boss who sued them again and again. Scott Pruitt has made a few public statements now, and they've offered a few clues to his priorities.

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Last summer Felicia Keesing returned from a long trip and found that her home in upstate New York had been subjected to an invasion.

"There was evidence of mice everywhere. They had completely taken over," says Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College.

It was a plague of mice. And it had landed right in Keesing's kitchen.

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What comes to mind when I say the words Chicago winter? An icy wind, perhaps, maybe the frozen lake. How about snow piled high in the streets?

In all his 50 years, Georges Kouamé Koffi has eaten chocolate once. "Someone gave me a piece to try," says the cocoa farmer. "It was lovely." Chocolate bars are on sale at a store in his city of San Pedro, in southwestern Ivory Coast. "But they are too expensive for us," he says.

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Susan Bence

UW-Milwaukee's Institute of World Affairs invited a conversation between Michael Vickerman and Alex Bozmoski about what U.S. energy policy should look. The two come from different worlds.

Michael Vickerman’s perspective is steeped in his long program policy career with the Madison-based renewable energy advocacy group RENEW Wisconsin.

The U.S. is producing less air pollution, but smog levels are still rising in the western U.S. because of pollutants released in Asian countries that then drift over the Pacific Ocean. Researchers say their findings show the importance of a global approach to preserving air quality.

"Scientists found Asian air pollution contributed as much as 65 percent of an increase in Western ozone in recent years," NPR's Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai. "China and India, where many consumer products are manufactured, are the worst offenders."

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now the 14th U.S. Secretary of Energy, despite having once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy.

Or at least, he tried to pledge to eliminate the department — including once when he couldn't think of its name.

Perry was confirmed Thursday by the Senate in a 62-37 vote.

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President Trump this week ordered a review of an Obama-era environmental rule that would have protected streams and wetlands. And in his speech to Congress, President Trump made clear he wants to target other measures.

Remember those pictures of parched lawns and bone-dry unplanted fields when it seemed that Californians could only pray for rain and snow?

Now thanks to one of the wettest winters on record, scientists say that the snowpack along the Sierra Nevada mountain range is a whopping 185 percent of average. And that's important because the runoff from the Sierra snowpack provides one-third of all of California's water.

When Marlene Fowler wakes up in the northern Arizona town of Kaibeto, she can see a yellow-green haze on the horizon. But Fowler's not worried about the pollution. It's her husband's job at the Navajo Generating Station that has her on edge.

"Even though they say the pollution is all this and that, it's been there years," she says.

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Spring is here, sort of.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: That is the warmest temperature we've ever had in the month of February...

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