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Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

The EPA sidelines science, the Harvard University bias case goes to trial, and the West Coast might get its first offshore wind auction.
The Harvard Yard park at Harvard University.

The Harvard Yard park at Harvard University.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you a profile of Canada's most prominent black activist, a deep dive into Nike's special influence over the University of Oregon, and a look at the private property and protected lands threatened by a United States–Mexico border wall.

But as usual, there's a lot of other news on our radar. Here are a few more stories we've been following this week.

The EPA Is Dissolving Two Panels of Experts on Air Pollution

In the Environmental Protection Agency's latest effort to change how it uses science in its rule-making, the agency is getting rid of two outside panels that provide advice on setting air standards and limiting certain pollutants. Instead, that work will now fall solely to a seven-member group called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, the Washington Post reports.

Environmentalists have roundly opposed the change. "The agency would be deliberately choosing to sideline science if they move forward without access to adequate expertise," Gretchen Goldman, the research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists' Center for Science and Democracy, said in a statement. "Vulnerable communities would be the hardest hit by this decision."

A Lawsuit Accusing Harvard University of Discriminating Against Asian Americans Goes to Trial

A trial over the use of race in the admissions process at Harvard University is underway in Boston's federal district court. The plaintiffs accuse Harvard of using racial quotas and holding Asian-American applicants to higher standards—claims the university denies. Though the case could be resolved by a decision that only affects Harvard, a broader decision is also possible. In fact, if the case makes its way to the Supreme Court, the conservative justices could push to abolish affirmative action.

The Trump Administration Might Allow Offshore Wind Farms Off the California Coast

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced this week that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will begin accepting public comments on potential wind turbines off the coast of California. Right now, the U.S. only has one major offshore wind farm, near Rhode Island. The BOEM is also planning to auction off offshore wind farm rights for an area near Massachusetts.

"We are always looking at new ways to increase American innovation and productivity to provide abundant and affordable energy for our homes and manufacturers," Zinke said in a statement. "I think this is a win for America."