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QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“It’s undeniable that the health effects of diesel pollution and the climate crisis are exposing families to public health threats and the greatest burdens of a warming planet.”
“Instead of listening to the governors, local leaders, ranchers and others who worked for years on an unparalleled plan to conserve fragile habitat while meeting the needs of communities, Zinke is looking to sell out the sagebrush to his friends in the fossil fuel industry. This is yet another example of the Trump administration undermining sound management of our public lands.”
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Telemundo DC: Piden autobuses escolares eléctricos
Politico Morning Energy: Greens Oppose Four EPA Nominees
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:
Reno Gazette Journal (NV): Reno protesters fear Trump’s EPA budget cut could hurt Nevada
Public News Service (WI): Conservation Group Opposes Two Bills on Air Quality
Alaska Journal of Commerce (AK): State loses another court fight over Roadless Rule fight
Albuquerque Journal (NM): More gubernatorial endorsements roll in
GO TIME ON ARCTIC: Senate Republicans queued up the next major attempt to sell out our public lands to Big Oil when unveiling the 2018 budget resolution today. This latest scheme proposes tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling – a win-win for big polluters. Get ready for the fight ahead: opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling would devastate species and habitats, and will do nothing to benefit our nation’s economy. But under budget reconciliation, the GOP will attempt to push the provision through the Senate with only 51 votes.
HIRING FREEZE UNDERMINES WEATHER SERVICE: The Trump administration put in place a hiring freeze that left 216 unfilled positions in the National Weather Service heading into a hurricane season that was projected to be severe, even before hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit. The staff shortage was so notable that the Government Accountability Office observed that employees struggled “to complete key tasks,” and the head of the meteorologists union said that “people were literally getting sick from the workload.” The Trump administration has made one thing abundantly clear – they’re willing to risk the health and safety of our communities while they continue to pad the pockets of corporate polluters.
SCOTT PRUITT’S OPAQUE EPA: No matter the issue, Scott Pruitt’s EPA lacks transparency. Hidden deep in a memo on post-Harvey cleanup, the EPA revealed that it has recovered 517 containers of “unidentified, potentially hazardous material,” but failed to disclose where the containers came from, why the contaminants have not been identified, and if there is any risk to human health. The Hill also reported this week that the EPA’s webpage for a trucking efficiency program has removed all references to climate change. By withholding and concealing crucial climate information, the EPA is caving to corporate interests and undermining efforts to protect the climate.
IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, IT’S… SCOTT PRUITT WASTING TAXPAYER MONEY: Since becoming EPA administrator in February, Scott Pruitt has taken at least four non-commercial or military flights, costing taxpayers more than $58,000. This isn’t the first time Pruitt’s use of taxpayer resources has come under question – it’s not even the first time this week. The EPA is also spending $25,000 to install a secure soundproof phone booth in his office – even though there’s already one in the building. Pruitt already runs an EPA shrouded in secrecy, and now he’s wasting taxpayer resources to hide his dismantling of the agency from the inside. On top of it, there’s also an investigation into his expensive travel to and around his home state of Oklahoma. Altogether, these raise serious questions about Pruitt’s integrity.
AND ZINKE TOO: Ryan Zinke became the latest Trump cabinet member to come under fire for abusing private and military flights – including chartering a flight to his Montana home on a plane owned by oil and gas executives.
ZINKE AND PERRY’S INDUSTRY BUDDIES: Ryan Zinke and Rick Perry attended Monday’s meeting of the National Petroleum Council and spoke pretty honestly about their plans to help their friends in Big Oil make more money at the expense of our environment. They made clear they plan to make it easier for oil companies to drill on federal lands and will prioritize company profits over regulation and environmental protection.
THE FALLOUT: During his speech, Zinke blasted career officials for being disloyal, saying “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” and then he signaled a desire to clear the Interior Department of them. Simultaneously, the inspector general is probing whether the abrupt reassignments of Interior staff were wrongful dismissals.
SHADY DEALS FROM SHADY SCOTT: CNN reported this week that just a few hours after meeting with a mining company executive back in May, Scott Pruitt directed EPA employees to withdraw an Obama administration proposal that aimed to protect crucial ecological areas in Southwest Alaska from mining activities. The Obama administration submitted the proposal after three years of intensive review – Pruitt revoked it after one conversation with a corporate mining executive. And more reports have found more incidences of Pruitt meeting with company executives and soon thereafter changing EPA policies to benefit them. Is there better evidence that Shady Scott is working to undermine EPA protections for the benefit of his polluter friends?
MORE QUESTIONS: Pruitt is exploring possibly cutting funding to the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, the section that enforces anti-pollution laws. Pruitt is not just changing EPA policy to benefit polluters — now he’s trying to reach into the Justice Department too.
WORTH THE READ: Charles P. Pierce of Esquire excoriates Pruitt’s Pebble mine deal and explains the dire economic and environmental consequences of allowing mining in the protected area.
DEVASTATION IN THE CARIBBEAN: Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister of Dominica, gave a bracing speech at the UN General Assembly about the utter destruction that recent climate-boosted hurricanes have wreaked on islands across the Caribbean and called on the international community to act. Now, 3.5 million people in Puerto Rico are without power and other basic necessities, and all Trump can do is tweet about Puerto Rico’s debt. We need better.
TRUMP ADMIN OUT OF LINE WITH THE PUBLIC: A new poll this week shows that a majority of people in this country—55 percent—now recognize that climate change is worsening severe weather events. The poll puts into stark relief the enormous divide between people’s concerns and the Trump administration’s actions.
MOMENTUM IN THE STATES: LCV’s Chispa launched a new website this week, www.cleanride4kids.org, dedicated to the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign and announced it is partnering with 13 groups on a digital petition asking governors across the nation to push for VW settlement funds to be allocated by states for zero emissions electric school buses. The digital push is in addition to state-based community organizing work underway.
Next week – The EPA is expected to announce the next steps in its push to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. Read this New York Times piece for a preview of the upcoming debate.
October 2 – President Trump is scheduled to give a major speech on “deregulation,” where we expect he’ll outline further attacks on protections for our clean air and water.
October 4 – The Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works will hold hearings on the nominations of Michael Dourson, Michael Leopold, and Bill Wehrum for positions in the EPA.