Tim McDonnell

Tim McDonnell

Climate Desk Associate Producer

Tim McDonnell joined Climate Desk after stints at Mother Jones and Sierra magazine. He remains a cheerful guy despite covering climate change all the time. Originally from Tucson, Tim loves tortillas and epic walks.

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SeaWorld Is Ending Its Killer Whale Show

| Mon Nov. 9, 2015 2:39 PM EST

SeaWorld will shut down the killer whale exhibition at its flagship San Diego location by next year, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune:

In its place would be a new orca experience debuting in 2017, described as "informative" and designed to take place in a more natural setting that would carry a "conservation message inspiring people to act."...The plan to gradually phase out the Shamu show comes amid efforts at both the state and federal level to clamp down on SeaWorld by ending the captive breeding of orcas, which would effectively bring to an end the parks' theatrical shows.

It's unclear whether the new "experience" will feature live orcas, and whether the decision will apply to any of the company's other locations in San Antonio and Orlando. A SeaWorld spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

SeaWorld has faced broad public criticism—and a tanking share price—since the 2013 documentary Blackfish accused the company of keeping killer whales in inhumane conditions. The company has maintained that the whales serve a valuable scientific purpose, although many scientists disagree. The announcement also comes just days after a Congressional representative from California introduced legislation to ban the breeding of captive orcas and their capture from the wild.   

Republicans Are Very Mad About Obama's Keystone XL Decision

| Fri Nov. 6, 2015 2:12 PM EST

Friday morning, after years of heated battles between environmentalists and Republicans, President Barack Obama announced that he is rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.

In a speech, the president criticized both supporters and detractors of the pipeline from placing too much emphasis on a project that, according to the State Department's analysis, would neither create many jobs nor ruin the climate if approved. Still, reactions to his decision from Republicans in Congress and the 2016 presidential primary were swift and terrible.

On the other side of the aisle, Democratic candidates were quick to praise the decision:

Notably absent, so far, is a reaction from Hillary Clinton. She only recently took a public position against the pipeline, after years of dodging the question.

UPDATE 3:30pm ET: A couple latecomers:

Here's What You Need to Know About President Obama's Decision to Reject the Keystone XL Pipeline

| Fri Nov. 6, 2015 11:06 AM EST

In the year’s biggest victory for environmentalists, President Barack Obama announced Friday that he will reject an application from Canadian company TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.

The pipeline, which would allow crude oil from Canada’s oil sands to reach ports and refineries in the US, has been a major controversy for Obama ever since he took office. The White House spent years deliberating on the issue. During that time, environmental groups accused Obama of not backing up his rhetoric on climate change with real action, and Republicans in Congress accused him of blocking a job-creating infrastructure project.

In his announcement today, the president said the State Department’s analysis had shown the pipeline would not significantly benefit the US economy.

"The State Department has decided that the Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the national interests of the United States. I agree with that decision," Obama said.

The timing of the announcement is significant, as it comes just weeks before the beginning of major international climate negotiations in Paris. Obama’s decision will "reverberate" with other countries and sends a strong message that the United States is serious about taking action to stop climate change, said Jennifer Morgan, director of the global climate program at the World Resources Institute.

Obama said that pipeline had been given an "overinflated role in the political discourse" by both its supporters and detractors. Still, he framed his decision as a key element of his climate legacy.

"America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change," he said. "Today we continue to lead by example."

Watch the full speech below:

This post has been updated.

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