Sunday, June 17, 2018

Scott Pruitt is mired in scandals — but you wouldn’t know it from watching Fox News

https://www.vox.com/2018/6/8/17441310/scott-pruitt-fox-news-scandal-data
"In this instance, Fox News isn’t trying to spin the Pruitt scandals in some positive manner. Instead, it’s just ignoring a story that makes the administration look bad, as it so often does. And as long as the Fox News machine builds an alternate reality where none of this happened, Pruitt might be able to sleep peacefully on his Trump hotel mattress."

Billions in solar projects and thousands of jobs shelved after Trump tariff

https://www.politicususa.com/2018/06/07/billions-in-solar-projects-and-thousands-of-jobs-shelved-after-trump-tariff.html
"The U.S. solar industry employs more than 250,000 people – about three times more than the coal industry – with about 40 percent of those people in installation and 20 percent in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration."

Trump says EPA is doing ‘really, really well’ as scandals continue to mount around Scott Pruitt

https://thinkprogress.org/pruitt-scandals-trump-fema-f1746162d6ff/
"Only a few days earlier, on Saturday, the New York Times reported that Pruitt attended a December University of Kentucky basketball game as a guest of coal baron Joseph W. Craft III. A day prior, emails obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the Sierra Club revealed that the EPA administrator had spent $3,230 at a Washington, D.C.-based jewelry store using agency funds. Of that, $1,560 was spent on 12 fountain pens — approximately $130 per pen. Pruitt also appointed Steven D. Cook, a former chemical industry lawyer linked to at least 36 Superfund pollution sites, as head of the EPA’s Superfund Task Force last week. That announcement came shortly before the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) voted to review a number of regulatory rollbacks instigated under Pruitt, including efforts to gut tailpipe emission restrictions. The official is also under ongoing criticism for barring reporters from EPA meetings, while favoring right-wing media like the Daily Caller and Sinclair Broadcast Group stations. The EPA administrator is already under fire for a number of prior decisions, including a sweetheart condo deal arranged with the wife of an energy lobbyist. The lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, had official business before the EPA during the time of the deal and attempted to recommend potential candidates for positions with the SAB during that same timeframe. Pruitt has also faced criticism for staggering 24-hour security costs and the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office, which a federal investigation has already deemed a violation of the law. The EPA head overhauled the agency’s advisory boards last fall, sparking legal action from environmental advocates. Pruitt has moreover relied on industry connections and lobbyists to help arrange expensive travel to destinations both domestic and international."

EPA Imploding Under Weight Of Scott Pruitt Scandals

President Trump, GOP Keep Scott Pruitt On Despite Flagrant Abuse Of Office

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Shooting bear cubs in their dens would be a-okay under Trump administration Alaska plan

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/5/22/1766173/-Shooting-bear-cubs-in-their-dens-would-be-a-okay-under-Trump-administration-Alaska-plan
The National Park Service currently has rules against a few particularly gross hunting tactics on federal land, and Team Trump is ready to do away with those: The proposed rule would allow hunters to lure brown and black bears with bait, hunt black bears and their cubs using artificial lights, shoot bear cubs and wolf and coyote pups in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears. It would also allow hunters to shoot swimming caribou from motorboats. Seriously, who feels like a big tough hunter coming home like “This is a bear cub I shot in its den!” Probably the same person who feels like a bad-ass for taking advantage of a law congressional Republicans already passed and Donald Trump signed allowing hunters to shoot bears and wolves from airplanes on national wildlife refuges. These are the same people who feel big and tough driving cars that cause passers-by to roll their eyes and mutter “compensating much?"

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Citing 'Common Good,' Nearly 1,500 Scientists Demand Congress Shield Endangered Species Act From GOP Attacks

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/05/18/citing-common-good-nearly-1500-scientists-demand-congress-shield-endangered-species
"In honor of Endangered Species Day on Friday, 1,452 American scientists sent a letter to Congress demanding that they "protect the scientific foundation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and reject any attempts to weaken or compromise the role of science in protecting species." The letter (pdf) comes amid the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers' war on science, and particularly in response to their attempts—including through the "disastrous" GOP Farm Bill that was defeated on Friday—to undercut or strip away key elements of the ESA, landmark legislation enacted in 1973 that aims "to conserve to the extent practicable the various species of fish or wildlife and plants facing extinction"."

Trump's EPA Doesn't Want You to Know Chemicals in Teflon Are Poisoning Waterways and Firefighters

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/44524-trump-s-epa-doesn-t-want-you-to-know-chemicals-in-teflon-are-poisoning-waterways-and-firefighters
"The Environmental Protection Agency is facing a major new scandal after it worked with the White House to bury an alarming federal study detailing widespread chemical contamination of the nation's water supply. One Trump administration official warned release of the study would create a "public relations nightmare"."

Friday, May 18, 2018

Inside the Barbaric U.S. Industry of Dog Experimentation

https://theintercept.com/2018/05/17/inside-the-barbaric-u-s-industry-of-dog-experimentation/
"Often, the experimentation has nothing to do with medical research, but rather trivial commercial interests, and in almost all cases, dogs provide little to no unique scientific value."

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide was this high humans didn't exist

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/5/4/1762050/-The-last-time-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-was-this-high-humans-didn-t-exist
"The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 410.31 parts per million (ppm) for the month of April, according to the Keeling Curve measurement series made at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This marks the first time in the history of the Mauna Loa record that a monthly average has exceeded 410 parts per million. This also represents a 30-percent increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the global atmosphere since the Keeling Curve began in 1958. In March, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego observed the 60th anniversary of the data series, the first measurements of which were 315 ppm. The headline comes from Eric Holthaus, who puts it in context: The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, millions of years ago, the planet was very different. For one, humans didn’t exist."

Trump administration ends critical NASA greenhouse gas monitoring program

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-nasa-greenhouse-gases-f782c723936d/
"The Trump administration has sought repeatedly to undermine climate efforts, rolling back a number of Obama-era environmental initiatives and announcing a U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement last June. NASA has served as a source of ire before for the White House, which has sought to cut funding for the agency’s Earth Science division twice. That division is associated with measuring climate trends. The decision to end the CMS marks a major swipe at NASA’s climate efforts and indication of what the agency may look like under Jim Bridenstine, who took over last month. Bridenstine’s confirmation process took seven and a half months, the longest time NASA has ever gone without a permanent leader. A Republican Oklahoma congressman, Bridenstine is the first elected official to serve in this position, something Democratic lawmakers worry will make him too political. He is also a climate science denier without any scientific credentials."

Letters reveal how Pruitt hired an unqualified lobbyist to head one of EPA's most important offices

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/5/11/1763587/-Letters-reveal-how-Pruitt-hired-an-unqualified-lobbyist-to-head-one-of-EPA-s-most-important-offices
"Bill Wehrum is the Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. The OAR is responsible for developing programs that promote energy efficiency, as well as dealing with regulations on both air quality and industrial pollution. Its regulatory reach extends for rules on radon on basements to ozone depleting chemicals and acid rain from power plants. It’s also the office that’s responsible for collecting information connected to climate change. It’s one of the EPA’s most critical offices. Which is why the previous administrator of the office had both a degree in biology from Yale and a degree in public policy from Harvard. So what exactly are Wehrum’s qualifications? It’s hard to determine, because although previous versions of the page showing the leadership team of the OAR included biographies of the principal officials, the new version of that same page has ditched all information about the backgrounds of the people in charge. As it turns out, Wehrum had two excellent qualifications. First, he was a lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry who had continued to act as a lobbyist even when he failed to register as a lobbyist. Second, he had been turned down for exactly the same position in the past over conflicts of interest and simply lack of qualifications. Writing for one of his clients, Wehrum requested a meeting with Pruitt. After that meeting was held, Pruitt did more than just hear out the lobbyist’s concerns—he put Wehrum in charge of the entire area, even though Wehrum lacked any qualifications, and even though hiring him meant directly violating rules against hiring lobbyists to work in areas where they had clients. Wehrum is far from the only lobbyist hired by Pruitt. In fact, he’s staffed both the EPA’s leadership and what had been the scientific review boards with industry lobbyists cheering on the destruction of environmental protections."

As CO2 Levels Soar Past 'Troubling' 410 ppm Threshold, Trump Kills NASA Carbon Monitoring Program

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/05/11/co2-levels-soar-past-troubling-410-ppm-threshold-trump-kills-nasa-carbon-monitoring
"As the Trump administration charges forward with its war on science by canceling a "crucial" carbon monitoring system at NASA, scientists and climate experts are sounding alarms over atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) that just surpassed a "troubling" threshold for the first time in human history."

Why Coal Is "Retiring" Faster Than Anyone Thought

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Scott Pruitt Takes All the Credit and None of the Blame for His Scandal-Filled Time at the EPA

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2018/04/scott-pruitt-takes-all-the-credit-and-none-of-the-blame-for-his-scandal-filled-time-at-the-epa/
"Pruitt spent much of the remainder of the three-hour hearing shifting the blame to EPA career employees, his environmental critics, and the media. He distanced himself from all of the controversies on his watch. “I am not aware,” became his favorite refrain."

Scott Pruitt lied—and leaked—in an effort to justify his first class flights and security costs

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/4/26/1760184/-Scott-Pruitt-lied-and-leaked-in-an-effort-to-justify-his-first-class-flights-and-security-costs
"In a pair of hearings, EPA chief Scott Pruitt has gotten the kid glove treatment from Republicans and some solid kicks from Democrats. Throughout the course of the day, Pruitt has contradicted his earlier statements. This includes admitting that he did know about requests for raises for his two Oklahoma friends (though he now claims he didn’t know the amount of those raises) and saying that what he previously characterized as a $43,000 SCIF (Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility) for receiving classified calls was not actually a SCIF, and blaming its purchase on “career individuals” at the EPA. But as Pruitt skated around questions on his lobbyist-provided townhouse in DC and his lobbyist-provided real estate flip back in Oklahoma, one topic that he kept pushing back on was his inordinate spending on security. Again and again through the first hearing, Pruitt defended his first class travel and $2 million a year personal security detail as required by an “extraordinary level” of threats. Threats far higher than those faced by previous cabinet officials. Though FOIA requests had failed to turn up this massive stack of threats, Pruitt claimed that this personal risk had been verified by a report from the Inspector General. In two separate hearings Thursday, Pruitt presented to lawmakers a “threat assessment” that he said came from Inspector General Arthur Elkins detailing various death threats against him. But at the start of the second hearing, Democratic Representative Betty McCollum asked Pruitt again about his first class flights, and when she got the same response as those who asked earlier, she was ready. McCollum: We reached out to the Inspector General’s office. We asked Inspector General Elgins if he made such comments. And he disputed your claim. Please explain yourself, administrator. Do you need to correct the record? In response, Pruitt held up a report he said “came from the Inspector General.” McCollum pressed and asked to see the paper, insisting that it be entered into the record."

“You Really Should Resign:” Lawmakers Slam EPA’s Scott Pruitt over Mounting Ethics Scandals

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sell Off Public Resources, Live Large on the Public Dime

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a19849658/pruitt-zinke-environment-public-spending/
"There's something of a dark irony in turning the Interior Department into an open sewer of greed and corruption. It is consistent with the entire administration*, which is run at the top by a conspicuous glutton. There are seven deadly sins. Gluttony is one of them. I’d say we have a clean sweep, probably the only clean thing involved in this whole mess."

While China Picks Winners, Trump Picks Losers

While China Picks Winners, Trump Picks Losers:

"Republicans who for years have voted against subsidies for solar and wind power—arguing that the “free market” should decide our energy future—are now eager to have government subsidize coal. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is also scrapping rules for disposing coal ash, giving coal producers another big helping hand. As if this weren’t enough, a former coal lobbyist has just become No. 2 at the EPA. If Scott Pruitt leaves (a growing possibility), the coal lobbyist will be in charge.  Meanwhile, Trump is imposing a 30 percent tariff on solar panels from China, thereby boosting their cost to American homeowners and utilities. The Trumpsters say this is because China is subsidizing solar.  To Trump and his merry band of climate-change deniers, boosting coal is fine. Helping solar is an unwarranted interference in the free market. As with so much else, Trump is determined to Take America Backwards Again. Until about a decade ago, the United States was the world leader in solar energy. Federal tax credits along with state renewable electricity standards helped fuel the boom. Then China decided to boost its own solar industry. State-controlled banks lent Chinese solar companies tens of billions of dollars at low interest rates. Chinese firms now produce three-quarters of the world’s solar panels. China’s success in solar has inspired China’s new high-tech industrial policy—a $300 billion plan to boost China’s position in other cutting-edge industries, called “Made in China 2025.” Besides subsidizing these industries, China is also telling foreign (usually American) companies seeking to sell in China that they must make their gadgets in China. As a practical matter, this often means American firms must disclose and share their technology with Chinese firms.  “We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on,” said Trump, just before upping the ante and threatening China with $100 billion in tariffs."

Lawmakers seek investigation into Scott Pruitt’s friend with no toxic site cleanup experience

https://thinkprogress.org/lawmakers-want-inquiry-into-scott-pruitt-superfund-adviser-345dbffd4ea4/
"Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt selected an old friend to oversee the nation’s toxic waste cleanup program. The friend, Albert Kelly, had no experience in environmental regulation, although he had invested in fossil fuel companies responsible for toxic waste that led to the designation of official Superfund sites. Two lawmakers are now calling on the EPA’s internal watchdog to investigate why Pruitt’s friend was hired to serve as his top adviser for the agency’s Superfund program. They want to find out if Kelly — a former banker who was banned from the profession — was properly vetted before getting appointed to his high-level position and whether Kelly has violated federal rules since joining the EPA."

Opponents decry Scott Pruitt’s plan to roll back groundwater protections at coal ash sites

https://thinkprogress.org/scott-pruitt-sides-with-coal-ash-utilities-16fb6702c930/
"Residents have not been clamoring for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to weaken the nation’s coal ash waste rules. No local communities have stood up and said they want less protection from coal ash. And yet Pruitt — at the behest of coal-fired power plant owners — proposed changes in early March to an Obama-era rule that would allow power plant owners to avoid cleaning up their coal ash deposit sites that were found to be leaking and contaminating groundwater."

Sunday, April 29, 2018

EPA plans to end California’s fuel economy waiver despite Pruitt’s claims to the contrary

https://thinkprogress.org/epa-end-california-waiver-freeze-fuel-economy-standards-2020-ea5ac66b8fed/
"Just one day after Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the agency did not have plans “at present” to target California’s special fuel economy waiver, the Trump administration announced that it would be putting a six-year hold on Obama-era standards for fuel efficiency, starting in 2020, while at the same time revoking California’s waiver to set its own standards. The move undercuts the Obama administration’s attempt to reign in carbon emissions from the transportation sector, and tees up a fight between the federal government and a state that has challenged Trump’s deregulatory agenda at nearly every turn. According to the Los Angeles Times, the EPA plans to submit a draft for fuel economy targets to the White House within the next few days. Pruitt had previously announced that the agency was reconsidering the Obama administration’s fuel economy standards, which dictate how much a car can emit."

Perks For Scott Pruitt Staffers Swell List Of Scandals At Donald Trump's EPA

With 'Merger From Hell' Reportedly Approved by DOJ, Warnings of Agrichemical Chokehold on Food System

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/04/09/merger-hell-reportedly-approved-doj-warnings-agrichemical-chokehold-food-system
"Watchdog groups sounded alarms on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that the proposed mega-merger of Bayer and Monsanto has cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the United States."

Scott Pruitt's lie about pay raises unravels, emails reveal he was behind scheme all along

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/4/9/1755690/-Scott-Pruitt-s-lie-about-pay-raises-unravels-emails-reveal-he-was-behind-scheme-all-along
"Pruitt sought massive raises for two of his favorite aides who came with him from Oklahoma. Those raises were large enough that they required approval from the White House. He was turned down. Undaunted, Pruitt determined that he could tap into money that was intended for consultants on the Clean Water Act and instead funnel it to his friends. He ordered it done. When he was caught, he took the standard Donald Trump method to handle it: bald-faced lies."

Officials Remove Human Role In Climate Change From Report

Trump Interior Department Issues 'Death Sentence to Nearly 300 Threatened Species'

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/04/04/trump-interior-department-issues-death-sentence-nearly-300-threatened-species
"In a "disgraceful" move that conservationists warn will amount to "a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species," the Trump administration is attempting to kill a portion of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Interior Department on Monday submitted a proposal to rescind the section of the law that extends all protections afforded to endangered species to those that are classified as threatened.  Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, says the Trump administration's new proposal, in enacted, "could be the end for iconic wildlife like the northern spotted owl and southern sea otter." In addition to granting "crucial protections" to theatened species, the 1978 "blanket" 4(d) rule—which the administration is trying to rescind—and enables (pdf) the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to increase or decrease certain protections based on the needs of individual species."

Scott Pruitt’s ethics scandal hasn’t stopped him from rolling back environmental protections

https://thinkprogress.org/scott-pruitts-ethics-scandal-environmental-rollbacks-continue-51b720d36f2c/
"Despite news that Pruitt had gone around the White House to approve raises for two political appointees, using a little-known provision in the Safe Water Drinking Act that allows the EPA administrator to unilaterally hire up to 30 employees to the agency, Pruitt continued to push ahead with his deregulatory agenda this week. On Wednesday, The Hill reported that Pruitt released a memo delegating himself more authority over issues related to the Clean Water Act."

Trump prepares to turn the US into a dumping ground for dirty, inefficient vehicles

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/3/30/1753246/-Trump-prepares-to-turn-the-US-into-a-dumping-ground-for-dirty-inefficient-vehicles
"It’s not difficult to guess the results of creating “relaxed” standards for emissions and fuel economy in the United States while the rest of the world, plus California, keeps moving ahead. We don’t really have to guess, because we’ve been there before. For decades, Republican lawmakers like Missouri’s Roy Blunt fought to keep fuel economy standards low and emission standards lax. That allowed US automakers to build vehicles more cheaply, without investing in either the research or retooling needed to generate more and cleaner miles. It also had a immediate result on vehicles in the US market — the US became a dumping ground for older engines. Even if consumers wanted something better, they found that European and Asian manufacturers often sold more efficient cars in other markets, and vehicles a generation or more behind in the US."

Trump Somehow Making Republicans More Ignorant

Trump Reverses Obama Fuel Efficiency Standards

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Director of offshore safety and environment bureau meets almost exclusively with industry

https://thinkprogress.org/scott-angelle-meets-almost-exclusively-with-industry-f2e52ffb4a69/
"Documents show that Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Scott Angelle has spent more than 98 hours meeting with oil and gas lobbyists and executives since he began the role last May. In contrast, during this same time he only spent 1.75 hours with NGOs. According to an analysis of Angelle’s calendar released by watchdog group Documented, the director has met with companies that have previously contributed more than $88 thousand to his failed 2012 and 2016 campaigns for elected office. This includes Targa Resources, LLOG, Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA), Chevron, Hilcorp, Arena Energy, Fieldwood Energy, and Taylor Energy. But the list of meetings goes well beyond previous campaign contributors. It includes other big names such as BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, and Halliburton, as well as the American Petroleum Institute. The news comes days after an investigation by the New York Times showed how the Trump administration, with help from Angelle, has been working to roll back Obama-era safety measures implemented following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster."

Donald Trump Admin. Reverses Obama-Era Ban On Elephant Trophy Imports

Scott Pruitt's EPA Aide Has a Side Hustle in the Private Sector

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a19134741/scott-pruitt-epa-private-sector-conflcit/
"Scott Pruitt, the energy industry sockpuppet installed as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is one very small step from selling off the public lands from a card table on the sidewalk along Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan. We find that he’s also very broad-minded as regards his subordinates. From the AP via The Denver Post: The ethics official noted that Konkus’ outside contracts presented a “financial conflict of interest” and barred him from participating in matters at EPA that would have a “direct and predictable” financial benefit for his clients. Pruitt named Konkus, a Republican political consultant, to serve as the EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs. His duties have included signing off on hundreds of millions in federal grants. The letter gave Konkus approval to work for at least two clients. Those names were blacked out by the agency before a copy was provided to Congress, citing a privacy exemption more typically used to protect personnel records and medical files. The letter said Konkus was also expected to take on additional private clients, advising them about “strategy, mail and media production"."

Saturday, March 3, 2018

'Truly Wicked': Trump EPA Dissolves Program That Studies Effects of Chemical Exposure on Children

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/02/27/truly-wicked-trump-epa-dissolves-program-studies-effects-chemical-exposure-children
"As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the leadership of Scott Pruitt moves to make it easier for big industry to dump dangerous chemicals into the nation's air and water, the agency announced late Monday that it is dissolving a program that funds studies on the effects of pollution and chemical exposure on America's children."

Congress has been a serious ally for Trump’s anti-environment agenda

https://thinkprogress.org/congressional-republicans-environmental-scorecard-2017-dba844da6fb9/
"The Trump administration’s first year was marked by a barrage of environmental rollbacks, from announcing the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement to the repeal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would have set the nation’s first-ever emissions limits on carbon emissions from power plants. But on Capitol Hill, the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda has found eager allies in Congressional Republicans. According to a new scorecard of environmental votes released today by the League of Conversation Voters, Congressional Republicans have done little to stand in the way of the administration’s anti-environmental policies. The League of Conversation Voters’ annual scorecard tracks how each member of Congress votes on key environmental legislation. As this year’s report shows, a majority of both Senate Republicans and House Republicans received an annual score of zero percent, meaning they voted against every piece of environmental legislation or nomination tracked by the scorecard. In the Senate, 46 Republicans received a score of zero, bringing the overall Republican Senate average to a historic low of just 1 percent. In the House, 124 representatives received a score of zero, bringing the overall Republican House average to just 5 percent. The overall average for both the House and the Senate in 2017 was 45 percent — a marked decline from 2009, when the scorecard tallied a record-high 60 percent for the House and 63 percent for the Senate. “When you’ve got 46 Republican Senators with a score of 0 percent … you very clearly show a party that has been completely captured by the polluting industries,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said on a press call announcing the scorecard’s release. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen that happen in the administration as well, with political appointees. Clearly, the polluters are now in charge at EPA"."

Trump’s EPA to close research center that protects public health

https://thinkprogress.org/epa-eliminates-key-research-office-074f12d18393/
"Plan to end a program responsible for researching effects of chemicals on children is part of Trump's rollback of public health safeguards."

Trump’s EPA head says his proudest moment was undermining a landmark environmental pact

https://thinkprogress.org/scott-pruitt-proud-achievements-a90d84d4ae20/
"Pruitt cited President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement as the proudest moment in his first year as EPA administrator. Any other EPA administrator — aside from President Ronald Reagan’s controversial EPA chief Anne Gorsuch Burford — would have used this softball question to highlight an actual environmental achievement. But Pruitt views his mission as doing whatever it takes to weaken the EPA in the shortest time possible."

It’s Been One Year of Amazing Scott Pruitt Accomplishments, All of Them Horrible

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2018/02/its-been-one-year-of-amazing-scott-pruitt-accomplishments-all-of-them-horrible/
"It’s been one year since Scott Pruitt took control of the Environmental Protection Agency. In that time, he’s undermined dozens of regulations on air and water pollution, made major cuts to agency staff, and curtailed enforcement of environmental rules. Here’s a look at his disturbing record so far"

Why Are More Cities Divesting From Big Oil? It's Moral -- and Practical

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43588-why-are-more-cities-divesting-from-big-oil-it-s-moral-and-practical
"The global financial and insurance industries are starting to recognize that fossil fuel investments don't make moral or economic sense."

EPA head’s woes just keep coming

https://thinkprogress.org/pruitt-israel-budget-travel-d7b69e4a88f4/
"The cancellation comes after a series of scandals and controversies surrounding Pruitt and his agency. Last week, the Washington Post reported that Pruitt had spent nearly $100,000 on first class and business travel last June, days after the White House withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement and all in his official capacity working for the federal government. That amount, obtained through months of receipts by the Environmental Integrity Project under the Freedom of Information Act, includes a $1641.43 first class seat from New York City to Washington, D.C. — a ticket six times more expensive than the seats purchased for two media aides who accompanied Pruitt. The New York Times reported on Sunday that Pruitt spent more than $107,000 on first class airfare and charted flights during the first six months of his tenure alone. That amount includes a $14,434 ticket for a charted EPA staff domestic flight, in addition to a Morocco trip to promote natural gas exports, something the EPA is not tasked with overseeing."

Trump budget would undo gains from conservation programs on farms and ranches

Trump budget would undo gains from conservation programs on farms and ranches:

"These programs affect about 50 million acres of land nationwide. They conserve millions of acres of wildlife habitat and provide ecological services such as improved water quality, erosion control and enhanced soil health that are worth billions of dollars."

Kentucky lawmaker borrows analogy from Koch-funded group to gain support for anti-solar bill

https://thinkprogress.org/kentucky-lawmaker-steals-alec-analogy-100343737a3d/
"A Kentucky state lawmaker borrowed from a Koch-funded group’s playbook in a recent speech arguing against renewable energy. Delivering a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives last week Kentucky Rep. Jim Gooch (R) hoped to garner support for legislation, backed by the state’s large electric utility monopolies, that would drastically slow growth in the state’s fledgling rooftop solar sector. In the speech, Gooch, who introduced the legislation in late January, used an unusual analogy that he borrowed from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group described as a “corporate bill mill” by its critics. The Koch-funded ALEC drafts model legislation that is primarily aimed at maximizing corporate profits and abridging the rights and freedom of ordinary Americans."

The Growing Danger of Ecosystem Collapse and Trump's War on Nature

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43471-the-growing-danger-of-ecosystem-collapse-and-trump-s-war-on-nature
"At the very moment of frightening decline of planetary ecosystems and accelerating climate change, Trump, his regime and cohorts in Congress, have launched a scorched-earth campaign against the environment -- a war on nature. Trump and his ilk aren't like Nero fiddling as Rome burned; they're stoking the inferno with whole forests. They have purged climate change from government websites, while denying its existence. They've chastised scientists for raising the connections of last summer's hurricanes to warming oceans. Trump has ordered the Clean Power Plan scrapped, is moving to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement and has called for drastic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget, especially targeting programs to deal with climate change. This administration loves fossil fuels and hates renewable energy so much it announced a plan on February 1 to cut research on renewables 72 percent. The EPA and Interior Department have been turned into shameless instruments of environmental destruction. Scientists and officials in the EPA, the Interior Department and the National Park Service have been forced out, let go, blocked from advising or have resigned in protest. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last remaining truly pristine wilderness areas left on the planet, is now open for drilling, a provision snuck through in the Republican tax bill. Bears Ears and Grand-Escalante National Monuments -- with all their archaeological and cultural treasures, and particularly precious to Indigenous people -- have been gutted and eviscerated. Now Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Trump and Republicans in Congress have their sights set on more monuments and national lands to pry open for extractive interests. In January, the regime declared almost all US coastal regions open for drilling. There is no regulation to protect land, water, air, wildlife or people's health that these eco-destroyers are bound to respect."

Jeff Sessions Says Marijuana Fuels the Opioid Epidemic. Study After Study Finds the Opposite.

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/02/jeff-sessions-says-marijuana-fuels-the-opioid-epidemic-study-after-study-finds-the-opposite/
"The latest study, published by the RAND Corporation this week, found that states that allowed liberal access to marijuana through legally protected dispensaries saw reduced deaths from opioid overdoses. States that legalized the drug but didn’t allow dispensaries didn’t see the same pattern."

Monday, February 12, 2018

New emails reveal Scott Pruitt was personally involved in erasing climate data from EPA website

https://thinkprogress.org/scott-pruitt-epa-webiste-0b4f50ef76c4/
"Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was personally involved in the purging of information from the agency’s website in the early months of the Trump administration, according to documents obtained by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)."

Trump Proves Record-Level Ignorance Regarding Ice Caps, Climate Crisis

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/01/29/trump-proves-record-level-ignorance-regarding-ice-caps-climate-crisis
"NOAA's latest Arctic Report Card—a government-generated document that anybody (even the president) can read—showed that rates of Arctic warming and sea ice decline are now at levels not seen in 1,500 years."

Here’s how the Mercer family’s climate denial funding influenced Trump

https://thinkprogress.org/mercers-climate-denial-influenced-trump-fa45a181fff2/
"Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, powerful conservative donors with close ties to the Trump administration, donated millions of dollars to climate science denial groups, newly released 2016 tax filing details show."

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Top EPA official gets second chance to deregulate toxic air pollution

https://thinkprogress.org/epa-weakens-toxic-pollution-controls-f28dcab8d218/
"On Thursday, the EPA issued a guidance memorandum drafted by Wehrum’s office that significantly relaxes regulations governing the release of extremely toxic mercury, arsenic, and lead pollution by industrial facilities."

Fracking companies won’t have to disclose chemicals thanks to Trump administration rollback

https://thinkprogress.org/fracking-repeal-consequences-4362a9587bfe/
"The regulations, finalized under the Obama administration, would have required companies that frack on federal lands to, among other things, disclose the chemicals used in their operations."

Doomsday Clock Now '2 Minutes to Midnight' as Trump Drives Up Nuclear and Climate Threats

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/01/25/doomsday-clock-now-2-minutes-midnight-trump-drives-nuclear-and-climate-threats
"In response to rising nuclear tensions and concerns about inadequate action to address the climate crisis, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Thursday the hands of the Doomsday Clock have been moved and it is now just two minutes midnight, a signal to the world that international scientists and policy experts are increasingly worried about the likeliness of global catastrophe. "In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II," said a statement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Bulletin was established decades ago by creators of the atomic bomb and aims to keep the world informed "about threats to the survival and development of humanity from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences"."

Doomsday Clock Moves Closer To Midnight; George Schultz Sounds Alarm

Doomsday Clock Moves Closer To Midnight; George Schultz Sounds Alarm:

"Asked by Senator Jean Shaheen about the development of "small" nuclear arms here and overseas, Schultz took off: A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. You use a small one; then you go to a bigger one. Nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons, and we need to draw the line there. One of the alarming things to me is this notion we can have something called a small nuclear weapon, which I understand the Russians are doing, and somehow that is usable. Your mind goes to the idea that nuclear weapons become usable, and then we are really in trouble because a big nuclear -- can wipe out the world. I have a great friend in San Francisco, William Swing, the retired Episcopal Bishop of California, and he started something terrific called United Religion Initiative. He made a statement about a year ago. I tried to get him to publish it, but he would not do it. He said When you put your hand on the Bible and swear to be President of the United States, that is the least of it. When you put your hand on the nuclear button, and you can start something that might kill a million people, you are not president anymore. You are God. And who are we to say we are God? These weapons are immoral, as President Reagan said many times. And we need to get rid of them. This goes so far in the face of everything Donald Trump has said about nuclear weapons, it isn't a subtle suggestion. Trump shouldn't play God with nukes. Period."

8 Things We Now Know That Happen (and That Don't Happen) When We Legalize Marijuana @alternet

8 Things We Now Know That Happen (and That Don't Happen) When We Legalize Marijuana @alternet:

"5. States with legal marijuana have lower rates of opioid-related harm. In Colorado, an upward trend in overdoses began to decline after 2014, the first year of retail pot sales in the state. Other positive indicia come from medical marijuana states, which report a nearly 25 percent drop in overdose death rates, a 23 percent reduction in opioid addiction-related hospitalizations and a 15 percent reduction in opioid treatment admissions. 6. Marijuana tax revenues are big—and bigger than predicted. Legalization states have collected more than a billion dollars in pot tax revenues—and that's not counting the monster market in California, where recreational sales just began this month. Likewise, slow roll-outs of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce in Maine and Massachusetts mean no tax dollars have yet been generated there. In the states that do have legal pot sales, overall sales and tax revenues quickly exceeded initial estimates. 7. Marijuana tax dollars are going for good things. Like $230 million to the Colorado Department of Education in two years to fund school construction, early literacy, school health, and bullying prevention programs. Likewise, schools in Oregon get 40 percent of the pot taxes and schools in Nevada will get $56 million in wholesale pot tax revenues. Oregon also allocates 20 percent of pot taxes for alcohol and drug treatment, while Washington kicks in 25 percent. In Washington state, 55 percent of pot tax revenues fund basic health plans."

Space Champagne - AKA Space Bubbly - By Kazzit

Don’t let Trump’s solar tariff scare you. There’s an easy trick to beat it.

https://thinkprogress.org/avoid-trump-solar-power-price-hike-001a1e017e22/
"Ironically, whether or not people use the quote aggregators, Trump’s new tariff won’t actually hurt China very much. But the price hike will hurt both U.S. consumers and businesses, while risking tens of thousands of good paying jobs for solar installers. What’s more, it will disproportionately hurt the workers and consumers of the emerging solar markets in red states like Florida, Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia."