THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – May 18, 2018

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“Every day there seems to be a new scandal and you at dead center. Your tenure at the EPA is a betrayal of the American people. You have used your office to enrich yourself at the expense of the American taxpayer and public health.”

–Senator Tom Udall tore into Pruitt at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, hitting him hard for his web of scandals and corruption

 

“This robust commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency will ensure lower costs for Michigan ratepayers while safeguarding the health of our air, land and Great Lakes.”

–Michigan LCV Executive Director Lisa Wozniak on new requirement that 50% of energy generated by utilities in Michigan come from a combination of clean energy and energy efficiency measures by 2030

 

“The thing that I admire the most about Lucas is that when he’s having a conversation with someone, he’s not talking, he’s listening. Lucas is laser focused on people and his willingness to sit down to hear the concerns of everyone in the region earned him the respect of supporters and opponents alike and was essential to the success of the campaign.”

–Maine Farmer Ryan Parker on LCVAF endorsed candidate Lucas St. Clair

 

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

Yahoo! News: Civil rights and environmental groups raise the alarm on a key judicial nomination

The Hill: Groups urge Senate panel to reject Trump’s pick for Louisiana-based appeals court

Detroit Free Press: Automakers want Trump to deal with California, create 1 mpg standard

Politico: Another House WOTUS vote … maybe

 

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

LCV’s state affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fighting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:

 

M Live (MI): EPA’s ‘safe’ PFAS level is 6 times too high, blocked report says

Santa Fe New Mexican (NM): Environmental group spends big to back land commissioner, PRC candidates

Westword (CO): Ten Ways to Celebrate Colorado Public Lands Day

 

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PRUITT ON THE HILL (AGAIN): Pruitt appeared before a Senate appropriations subcommittee on the environment and got absolutely grilled over his ridiculous number of ethical violations. On top of hearing more questions about his extravagant phone booth, unnecessary security details, and chronic, lavish spending, some of the newest and biggest storylines coming out of the hearing include:

 

WONDER WHAT THAT’S FOR?: Although Pruitt maintains that he hasn’t behaved inappropriately or unethically, he admitted on Wednesday that he set up a legal defense fund to combat the charges levied against him. This account invites crowdsourced contributions to pay for the EPA chief’s legal fees — and you can be sure that his coffers will be filled by oil and gas executives looking for more favors from their corrupt pal.

 

SIREN — LITERALLY: Senator Tom Udall caught Pruitt in a lie about whether or not he instructed the frequent use of police lights and sirens in non-emergency situations to avoid traffic jams. Check out this newly-released email from former EPA security chief for proof:

 

Subject: “Lights and Sirens.”

Body: “Btw — Administrator encourages the use.”

 

Seems like an abuse of power to us.

 

SPEAKING OF ABUSE OF POWER: Pruitt had one of his aides work during her personal time to find him an acceptable housing situation — and then didn’t pay her for the favor. According to Udall, that qualifies as a gift from a subordinate that exceeded the $10 limit, making it another violation of federal law.

 

IT’S ALWAYS THE EMAILS: Remember when we learned that Pruitt used multiple email aliases on the job? The EPA’s Inspector General is now looking into it. Using multiple undisclosed email accounts could point to questionable behavior, including manipulating FOIA requests and possibly violating federal law.

 

PUT OUT TO PASTURE: The Farm Bill, strongly opposed by LCV and others, was defeated earlier today in the House. The riders in this disastrous bill risked clean drinking water for 117 million people and allowed the degradation of our nation’s largest national forest, the Tongass in Alaska. We are urging the House go back to the drawing board to draft a bill that upholds clean water safeguards, keeps food on the tables of hardworking families, and preserves our treasured public lands.

 

ANOTHER BREAKING STORY: Politico reported that the White House and EPA colluded to block the publication of a report detailing chemical contamination of water supplies across the nation. In an email, a Trump aide called the assessment a “public relations nightmare,” as it would demonstrate that even low levels of PFAS chemicals can endanger human health. Three months later, we still haven’t seen the report and don’t know when or if we ever will.

 

WAPO ED BOARD CHIMES IN: The Washington Post editorial board took shots at the administration’s scheme to keep the report hidden: “Now the email is out, even as the HHS report remains under wraps, and the administration looks both secretive and uncaring about Americans’ health.” Read the full piece here.

 

THIS IS A BIG DEAL: Pruitt and Trump are working together to suppress information critical to the health of families and communities nationwide. As usual, we’re extraordinarily disappointed in the White House and EPA — and we demand that this report be made public immediately.

 

AGAIN, PRUITT BLAMES STAFF: When asked about the report during Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Pruitt regressed to his usual talking point: blame the staff. We don’t buy Pruitt’s argument that he didn’t know the agency was trying to bury the report — but even then, as EPA administrator he’s ultimately responsible.

 

#CLEANENERGYFORALL: Our friends at Michigan League of Conservation Voters today celebrated a compromise reached between clean energy advocates and Michigan utility companies that sets a goal of 50 percent of the energy generated by utilities to come from a combination of clean energy and energy efficiency measures by 2030. “This robust commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency will ensure lower costs for Michigan ratepayers while safeguarding the health of our air, land and Great Lakes,” said Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director at Michigan LCV. “Increasing Michigan’s use of clean energy will reduce dangerous pollution in our air and water and give families and businesses access to reliable and affordable electricity in the years to come.”

 

WRONG ANSWER: During a hearing on her nomination to lead National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Heidi King refused to acknowledge that climate change is being caused by human activities. NHTSA sets fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles and is charged with enforcing those standards — which the Trump administration is currently trying to lower — so it’s concerning to see that this nominee can’t even identify the impact that burning fossil fuels has on our environment. Shout out to Senator Maggie Hassan for bringing King’s ignorance to light.

 

ZINKE AND INDUSTRY, A LOVE STORY: Next week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will keynote the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference — an event that draws business leaders in the oil and gas industries. Zinke’s continued coziness with dirty energy industries raises concerns, especially because he recommended shrinking the size of our beloved national monuments and protected lands, a proposal the oil and gas industry pushed.

 

STACKED BENCH: This week, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary tried to continue reshaping the federal bench in Trump’s image — a landscape that will have destructive consequences for generations to come, far outlasting the Trump presidency. But Senate Democrats took a firm stand, walking out of the markup and preventing the committee from voting to approve the nominations of Andy Oldham and Michael Truncale. We’ve opposed both nominees because of their vocal anti-environmental records.

 

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Andy Oldham has questioned the EPA’s constitutionality, writing “the reason why the administrative state is enraging is not that we disagree with what the EPA does, it’s the illegitimacy of it.” And Michael Truncale calls the EPA a “job killer.” So how could we trust them to uphold our fundamental environmental laws?

 

COMING UP:

 

MAY 22 – House Appropriations Committee markup of the FY19 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill

MAY 23- House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee markup of their 2018 Water Resources Development Act

SEPTEMBER 30 – Expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s best parks program

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