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Weekly roundup 31/03/2017

President Trump approved the controversial Keystone Pipeline.

31 Mar 2017

In the news recently:

Theresa May notified the European Union of the UK’s withdrawal, triggering the beginning of negotiations. The 27 countries that remain within the EU will be championed by a handful of negotiators, but the UK Government must ensure that the new arrangements will be of benefit for all the nations involved. For more information on how Brexit might impact science and business, read our roundup. Elsewhere, the UK Science and Technology Select Committee has published a report entitled Science communication and engagement, discussing the ways in which science is portrayed in the media, and how science can be more effectively utilised in political arenas.

A man who was paralysed from below the neck for years can now drink and feed himself without assistance after a world-first procedure that allows him to control his hand with the power of thought. Bill Kochevar, 53, had sensors inserted in his forearm and electrical implants in the motor cortex of his brain, allowing the muscles of his arm and hand to be stimulated in response to signals from his brain. The experimental technology, the first in the world to restore brain-controlled reaching and grasping in a person with complete paralysis, is being pioneered by the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Read more in The Lancet.

President Trump has taken steps this week to change American energy policy, particularly focusing on reversing previous presidential efforts to curb climate change in the USA. In the same week as authorising the controversial Keystone crude oil pipeline from Canada, he has also removed policies previously implemented by President Obama. Among those removed was the Clean Power Plan, aimed at supporting the progress of America towards reducing climate change, to align with the global targets referred to COP21. However, ‘Undoing the rule will not be straightforward’, said Prof Bruce Huber, from the Notre Dame law school. ‘For the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse course, it will have to propose a new rule, with all the lengthy procedures that entails. When President George W Bush tried to reverse course on some of President Clinton's signature environmental regulations, those efforts took years and were not entirely successful.’ You can read more about Trump’s policy shift on energy here.

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