environment

Sue Ogrocki/AP

Scott Pruitt, the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, first came to national prominence back when he was Oklahoma's attorney general. In that role, he sued the agency he now runs 14 times, in a series of court cases alleging overreach by the federal government.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Environmental groups and concerned residents this week told federal officials the Oklahoma agency charged with protecting air, land and water lacked the resources and rules to manage a state-run plan to regulate coal ash.

Over President Trump's first year in office, the U.S. underwent some changes that he would probably cheer. The economy continued strengthening (including, yes, the stock market, as the president likes to emphasize) and the number of people apprehended while trying to enter the country illegally fell sharply. However, some changes are less promising: The nation's carbon dioxide emissions rose, and the amount of student debt grew by $47 billion.

We have put together a wide variety of statistics to show how the U.S. has changed in the past year.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday that it will use its authority to bypass environmental laws and other regulations to "ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads" near the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The tiny community of Bokoshe is flanked by old mines, which companies are filling with thousands of tons of waste produced by the coal-fired power plant down the road.

The coal waste — known as coal ash, or fly ash — is a powdery, pernicious dust that blows off trucks and pits. Residents worry about breathing the ash, fear it has contaminated local water supplies and have linked it to various medical problems, including cancer.

Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe penned an opinion piece for USA Today this week, supporting President Donald Trump's ending some environmental regulations.

The way environmentalist Craig Cox sees it, streams and rivers across much of the country are suffering from the side effects of growing our food. Yet the people responsible for that pollution, America's farmers, are fighting any hint of regulation to prevent it.

"The leading problems are driven by fertilizer and manure runoff from farm operations," says Cox, who is the Environmental Working Group's top expert on agriculture.

Colin Curwen-McAdams opens the door to his greenhouse in Mt. Vernon, Wash., and a rush of warm air pours out.

"Basically, it's summer all year long here," he jokes.

Curwen-McAdams, a PhD student at Washington State University, and WSU professor Steven Jones have developed a new species: a cross between wheat and its wild cousin, wheat grass. They call it Salish Blue. Their goal was to make something that's like wheat but grows back year after year.

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