THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – October 6, 2017

Your weekly resource to learn what the environmental movement is saying about the news of the day and the political fight of our generation. Be sure to follow LCV on Facebook and Twitter.

 QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 “As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt has shown a reckless disregard for the health and safety of our communities – and for the protection of our environment, public lands and waters – all in the name of padding the pockets of his industry cronies.”

— LCV President Gene Karpinski, in response to a New York Times report on Scott Pruitt’s meetings with industry executives and lobbyists leading to action in their favor

“Instead of putting our communities first, these budget proposals include a huge giveaway to oil and gas companies by paving the way for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to the Gwich’in people and iconic wildlife. Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not a budget issue, and it’s not a political bargaining chip to pay for tax cuts.”

— LCV Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld on Congress using the budget resolution to pave the way for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

“If Scott Pruitt’s EPA wants recommendations for replacing the Clean Power Plan, here’s ours: keep it and follow the law.”

— LCV President Gene Karpinski, in response to reports that the EPA plans to move forward with revoking the Clean Power Plan

 

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

Washington Post: Notes from closed meeting show how Interior aims to weaken environmental laws

ThinkProgress: ‘Repeal and replace’ round 2: How Trump will unravel the Clean Power Plan

Politico: Pruitt critics see political motives in flights and meetings

E&E News: Schumer not convinced GOP has enough votes to open ANWR

KAET-PHX PBS (AZ): LCV’s Chispa Arizona teen volunteer makes national push for #CleanRide4Kids

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:

 Great Falls Tribune (MT): Gianforte’s first 100 days criticized, praised

The Daily Sentinel (CO): VW settlement may fund charging stations

KRQE (NM): Group proposes using Volkswagen settlement money for new buses

NJ Spotlight (NJ): Ballot question closer to stop raiding of natural-resources damage

Politico: LCV launches digital buy vs. Gillespie

 

————————————————————————————————————–

PRUITT “UNFIT TO SERVE”: A bombshell report from the New York Times confirms Scott Pruitt’s interests lie with corporate polluters and special interests over the health and safety of our families and communities. The report revealed a complete picture of Scott Pruitt’s schedule from his first six months as EPA administrator: he met almost daily with industry executives and lobbyists, and he almost never met with environmental groups or health and safety advocates. The Times’ review of Pruitt’s calendar shows a “direct link between Mr. Pruitt’s meetings and actions that the industry wants him to take.”

OUR TAKE: “Scott Pruitt shows shameful deference to special interests, corporate polluters, and Big Oil that leaves him unfit to serve as the head of the agency charged with protecting the environment and the health and safety of our communities.” — LCV President Gene Karpinski

CLEAN POWER PLAN REPEAL: Just after the New York Times reported on Pruitt’s meetings favoring industry and directly influencing the actions he takes, another proof point emerged. According to Reuters, the Trump administration is expected to formally announce its plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the first and only limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Its repeal is yet another concession to Pruitt’s industry pals.

REMINDER: People across the country submitted a record-breaking 8 million public comments in support of the Clean Power Plan.

 PRUITT HANDS OVER THE WHEEL TO INDUSTRY CRONIES: In yet another move to carry the water for his industry pals, Pruitt’s EPA announced the new “Smart Sectors” program on Tuesday. The agency claims that the program will “reduce unnecessary regulatory burden,” but, in reality, it allows industries to regulate themselves. The move completely undermines crucial environmental protections and places the interests of industry ahead of the health and safety of our communities.

 

WORTH THE READ: David M. Uhlman, the head of the Environmental Crimes Division of DOJ under President George W. Bush, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times sharply criticizing Pruitt’s plan to cut funding for lawsuits against major polluters. He writes “Mr. Pruitt’s proposal is a breathtakingly bad idea, giving polluters license to do their dirty work with less fear of punishment and a greater ability to outlast an understaffed Justice Department in court. The victims would be ordinary Americans, many of them poor and minorities, who often live closest to where environmental violations occur and where the worst Superfund sites are located.” Nearly every action Pruitt takes throws our communities under the bus to pad the pockets of corporate polluters.

 

POLLUTE-ED GILLESPIE: With just a month until November’s Virginia governor’s race, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters PAC launched www.PollutEdGillespie.com for voters to learn about Gillespie’s record of siding with corporate polluters over Virginia families. Gillespie has also earned the distinction of being named the inaugural member of the 2017-2018 “Dirty Dozen in the States,” which highlights 12 of the most anti-environment state-level candidates who state LCVs are working to defeat around the country. See one of the ads running in Virginia here.

 

PRUITT AND ZINKE: I’M RUBBER, YOU’RE GLUE: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said this week that they do not plan to pay back the costs of charter flights that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Although multiple reports detailed that many of these trips were light on actual work, both Zinke and Pruitt claimed that the trips were pre-approved by ethics officials in their respective agencies. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney shot back in a memo that came after the resignation of HHS Secretary Tom Price for similar transgressions last week, “just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.”

 

INTERIOR WHISTLEBLOWER: ZINKE LEADERSHIP A ‘FAILURE’: A former Interior Department executive, Joel Clement, resigned this week and sharply criticized Zinke’s leadership and policies. Clement is a science and policy expert, but was reassigned to an accounting position after publicly discussing how climate change would affect Alaska Native communities in June. The Department of Interior inspector general is investigating Clement’s reassignment (along with the reassignment of dozens of other senior executives), adding to the series of investigations into Secretary Zinke’s actions.

 

“OUTRAGEOUS” EPA NOMINEES: On Wednesday the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works held hearings on nominations for three positions in the EPA and one on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. All the nominees bore significant criticism, but Michael Dourson, who is nominated to head the EPA’s chemical safety and pollution prevention office, and Bill Wehrum, who is nominated to head the EPA’s air and radiation office, faced particularly pointed questions.

 

SENATE REMARKS ON DOURSON: Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said, “You’re not just an outlier on this science, you’re outrageous in how far from the mainstream of science you actually are.”

 

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said, “Never in the history of the EPA has a nominee to lead the chemical safety office had such deep ties to industry.”

 

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said, “Over the years, you seem to have become quite good and quite comfortable at producing this type of pseudoscience for the highest bidders.”

 

MORE ON DOURSON: This New York Times piece and this piece from The Intercept both detail Michael Dourson’s long career of making it easier for polluters to damage the environment and public health.

 

INTERIOR’S SECRET MEETING: The Washington Post this week obtained notes from a conference call, hosted by officials in the Bureau of Land Management, in which Interior Department officials and state, county, and local government representatives discussed how to weaken environmental protections. In particular, the call focused on the National Environmental Policy Act, one of the most important environmental laws in the country. In addition, the call discussed how to limit FOIA requests and how to eliminate the Equal Access to Justice Act, which allows groups to request reimbursements for attorney’s fees when they win cases against the government. Not only is the Interior Department trying to undermine our country’s most crucial environmental laws — they’re trying to do it in secret to avoid any challenge or accountability from people in this country.

 

ZINKE’S CAMPAIGN ACTIVITIES: Politico reported this week that Ryan Zinke has attended more than half a dozen political events with big donors and political groups in his only eight months as Interior Secretary. While likely not illegal, the activity raises significant questions about Zinke’s impartiality and his priorities at Interior.

 DRILLING IN THE ARCTIC: On Thursday, the House approved a budget resolution with instructions to the Natural Resources Committee that pave the way for legislation to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Senate is expected to direct the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to make a similar move. Instead of putting our communities first, these budget proposals include a huge giveaway to oil and gas companies by paving the way for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to the Gwich’in people and iconic wildlife. Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not a budget issue, and it’s not a political bargaining chip to pay for tax cuts. LCV sent a letter to Congress urging members to vote against the House resolution.

 CLIMATE ADVOCACY FROM OUTSIDE THE U.S. GOVERNMENT: On Wednesday, the UN Secretary General said that he hopes the recent destructive hurricanes in the Caribbean and the U.S. would help to convince President Trump that climate change is a major threat. He further said that the world would need to cooperate in protecting the most vulnerable nations from the potential damage of climate change and that there would need to be more determination in pushing for “a clean, sustainable energy future.”

WISCONSINITES OPPOSE FOXCONN DEAL: A new poll shows that Wisconsinites are opposed to exempting electronics manufacturer Foxconn from environmental rules that other Wisconsin companies must comply with. Fighting the Foxconn deal has been a key priority for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

 A BRIGHT SPOT: Slate published an article this week analyzing the recent decisions by General Motors and Ford to focus on electric cars. Despite a lagging U.S. market for electric cars, regulations in other major markets like India and China, as well as possible future regulations in states like California are convincing car companies that electric is likely the most profitable path forward. This shows how out of step the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back the clean car standards are.

 

COMING UP:

NEXT WEEK – Look out for the Trump administration to make a formal announcement of its Clean Power Plan repeal

October 12 – Secretary of Energy Rick Perry makes his debut in his first appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy

 October 18 45th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

Related Articles