Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

The Senate confirms a former lobbyist as EPA head, the U.S. is losing solar jobs, and fishy sightings intrigue scientists.
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President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un hold a meeting during the second U.S.–North Korea summit, in Hanoi on February 28th, 2019.

President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un hold a meeting during the second U.S.–North Korea summit, in Hanoi on February 28th, 2019.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on why public-health experts want more states' vaccine policies to look like West Virginia's, ongoing racial divisions in Chicago public housing, and the new Grand Canyon ranger who's older than the national park.

We've been following the big headlines too: Michael Cohen's testimony, the Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, and the conflict between India and Pakistan.

But there's plenty of other news we've also been keeping an eye on. Here are a few more stories we've been watching this week.

Andrew Wheeler Is Confirmed as EPA Head

On Thursday the Senate confirmed former fossil fuel lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler has been the EPA's acting administrator since former head Scott Pruitt resigned amid scandals that somehow included a used mattress, Pruitt's preferred moisturizer, and Chick-fil-A. Pacific Standard staff writer Francie Diep summed up what we know about Wheeler in a Twitter thread:

The U.S. Has Lost Thousands of Solar Energy Jobs Under Trump

According to a report from the Solar Energy foundation, the United States solar sector has lost about 18,000 jobs over the last two years—10,000 in 2017 and another 8,000 in 2018. The Trump administrator's tariffs on solar panels are in large part to blame: "Tariffs on solar cells and modules, steel, and aluminum increased costs and impacted projects that were already in the pipeline," George Hershman, president of Swinerton Renewable Energy, said in a statement.

The report counts a total of 242,343 solar workers across the country, and notes that solar jobs have, in fact, increased in 29 states, with Florida, Illinois, Texas, and New York seeing the biggest gains.

Big Sea Creatures Are Washing Up in Weird Places

The hoodwinker sunfish is an appropriate name for the seven-foot fish that washed up on a Santa Barbara beach this week. The hoodwinker had never been seen in North America, CNN reports, having previously been known to live around Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Chile. It's hard not to wonder if the big fish crossed paths with the humpback whale that washed up in a mangrove in the Amazon River last week, despite the fact that humpbacks should be well on their way to Antarctica at this time of year.

This is only the second time the hoodwinker sunfish has been seen in this hemisphere. "[H]ow did it cross the equator and turn up by you guys? It's intriguing what made this fish cross the equator," marveled Marianne Nyegaard, the New Zealand-based marine scientist who discovered the species, according to CNN.

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