THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – October 27, 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:
“Far from draining the swamp, these industry insiders are entirely unfit to serve and pose a grave threat to our communities and our health. All four have condemned the very existence of the EPA and want to weaken it beyond recognition, threatening the EPA’s mission to protect our clean air and water. We call on the Senate to reject their nominations.”
— LCV Vice President for Government Affairs Sara Chieffo in a statement after the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works advanced four unqualified EPA nominees.
“The Republican leadership has their math wrong – drilling in the iconic Arctic Refuge may pad polluter profits but it wouldn’t reduce the deficit.”
— LCV President Gene Karpinski in a statement launching new digital ads that thank and hold senators accountable for their recent vote on the budget resolution.
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Reuters: U.S. Senate panel approves controversial EPA nominees
Politico: LCV URGES ‘NO’ ON BUDGET
USA Today: NASA nominee’s support of ‘secret science’ bill alarms environmentalists
E&E News: Mum’s the word about EPA’s rule-cutting task force
ThinkProgress: Trump’s Commerce Department is considering shrinking marine monuments for more oil drilling
Colorado Politics: League of Conservation Voters praises Bennet, pressures Gardner over arctic drilling
Univision: Acusan a la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de dejar de revisar tóxicos de uso generalizado en EEUU
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:
Oregon Public Broadcasting (WA): When Big Money Lands In A Small Vancouver Election
Seattle Pi (WA): Connelly: A gusher of oil money flows in 2 state elections
Sun Sentinel (FL): Gov. Scott calls for more money for Florida’s environment
Penobscot Bay Pilot (ME): Midcoast legislators get high marks from Maine Conservation Voters
WECT ABC (NC): Attorney General speaks about environmental issues at Wrightsville Beach event
The Fayetteville Observer (NC): Program aids home energy needs
E&E News: The biggest climate election this year might be in Seattle
BYE BYE BEARS EARS: Senator Orrin Hatch on Friday says he took a call from President Trump, who told Hatch he intends to move forward with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s recommendations to shrink two national monuments despite overwhelming public opposition. Both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante would be drastically impacted by the decision, which comes out of the administration’s reckless review of parks and public lands.
GENE KARPINSKI: “If President Trump moves forward with these recommendations, he will exceed his constitutional and statutory authority. LCV will continue to fight to protect our public lands and waters every step of the way.”
HOUSE MOVES TO OPEN ARCTIC REFUGE FOR DRILLING: On Thursday, the House narrowly passed (216-212) the Senate’s budget resolution that paves the way for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As Republican leadership inches closer and closer to irreparably disrupting one of the largest remaining intact ecosystems in the world, an ecosystem that has sustained the Gwich’in people for centuries and is home to an array of wildlife, it is clear that they are more interested in increasing polluters’ already lavish profits than protecting our communities and the places that hold great meaning to our country. Furthermore, drilling in the iconic Arctic Refuge won’t reduce the deficit.
NEXT STEP: Leadership isn’t wasting time. Next Thursday, November 2, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee is holding a hearing on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES INDUSTRY CRONIES AS EPA NOMINEES: On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved four dangerous nominees for crucial EPA positions. Two of the nominees, Michael Dourson and Bill Wehrum, are particularly concerning and have garnered intense criticism from committee Democrats over their conflicts of interest. As Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE)put it, “We’ve done the wrong thing. I have never been this troubled on this committee, or any committee, in 17 years.”
OUR TAKE: “All four of these nominees, especially Bill Wehrum and Michael Dourson, would accelerate Scott Pruitt’s mission to dismantle the EPA from the inside…All four have condemned the very existence of the EPA and want to weaken it beyond recognition, threatening the EPA’s mission to protect our clean air and water.” LCV Vice President for Government Affairs Sara Chieffo in a statementfollowing the committee vote.
SIREN: ADMINISTRATION RISKS RECOVERY TO HAND OUT POLITICAL FAVORS: As Puerto Rico looks to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating storm that has left 75 percent of the island without power, questions have arisen about the tiny private utility company that was given a contract to repair and reconstruct the island’s energy infrastructure. The company, Whitefish Energy, which had just two full-time employees when the hurricane hit, is based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s small hometown, and his son worked with the company last summer.
WHITEFISHY: Whitefish Energy has no experience in recovery – efforts that are typically entrusted to a network of public utilities. Given the unusual nature of the arrangement and the close ties the company holds to Zinke, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for an investigation. Both the governor of Puerto Rico and the mayor of San Juan have called for the contract to be voided. The administration adamantly denies wrongdoing, but this is yet another example in a pattern of corrupt and self-serving behavior that fails to value the health and safety of our communities.
TRUMP ADMIN HANDS EPA OVER TO INDUSTRY LOBBYISTS: On Saturday, the New York Times published an in-depth investigation into the concerted effort to make it more difficult to regulate dangerous chemicals at the EPA. Back in May, Nancy Beck was appointed to lead the EPA’s toxic chemical unit after having spent five years working for the very industry that the unit she’s now in charge of regulates. Beck quickly rewrote a rule at the EPA and made it harder for scientists to track the health consequences of a chemical that has been linked to kidney cancer, birth defects, and immune system disorders, among other serious health problems.
And this isn’t the first instance of the administration prioritizing the chemical industry over our health and safety. After industry groups met with the EPA’s political appointees, the EPA’s stance on pesticides was reversed. Aligning the EPA with industry interests isn’t just shameful and corrupt – it’s reckless, and a huge threat to the health and safety of our families and communities.
FULL COURT PRESS: The Trump administration announced this week that a scheduled review of toxins will not examine all the chemicals already in use, but will instead only look at chemicals currently being manufactured and entering the marketplace. This change ignores the millions of tons of toxins currently in workplaces all across the country and will result in a failure to evaluate the risk of these chemicals to public safety.
TRUMP-IAN RESPONSE: In response to serious questions and concerns about the risk to public health and safety, the EPA took a page out of Donald Trump’s Twitter playbook and attacked the New York Times, calling their reporting “elitist clickbait.”
BUDGET CUTS PASSED OFF TO NATIONAL PARKS VISITORS: On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced a new increase in fees to visit 17 of the country’s most popular National Parks during the peak visitor season. Fees would rise as high as $70, more than a visit to many major for-profit amusement parks. The Interior Department framed the increase as necessary to pay for infrastructure maintenance in the parks, but failed to mention the $400 million that Republicans cut from the National Park Service’s budget. The administration is making it harder for families to enjoy our public lands, while also working to sell out public lands to industry polluters.
MORE EMISSION SAFEGUARDS REPEALED: The EPA is attempting to repeal emission standards for truck components, a rule adopted to limit dangerous air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Scott Pruitt met in May with the manufacturer who would benefit most from the rule’s repeal and decided to explore changing the rule “in light of the issues raised.” Once again, Pruitt is working to dismantle regulations that protect communities to boost the bottom lines of polluters and industry groups.
EVEN MORE EPA SAFEGUARDS UNDER REVIEW: The EPA announced on Wednesday that it will review how the U.S.’s most important environmental laws – like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act – affect energy industry job losses. This is a dangerous first step towards the repeal or undermining of the Clean Air or Clean Water Acts. These laws are not about jobs, or the energy industry, they are about keeping all of us safe and protected from polluters concerned only with their own pocketbook. Scott Pruitt and the EPA wants to put those same polluters in charge of our necessary protections.
CLIMATE COVER UP: Until this week, three EPA scientists were scheduled to give a talk in Rhode Island on Monday about the effects of climate change on Narragansett Bay. However, on Sunday, the EPA canceled the talks, allowing the scientists to attend the event but not to present any of their crucial research. And just three days before the canceled talks, a new report found that dozens of online resources to help local governments manage the effects of climate change have been scrubbed from the EPA website. The EPA continues to do whatever it can to obstruct established science and protect the profit interests of Scott Pruitt’s polluter buddies.
CLIMATE CHANGE COSTS BILLIONS: The Government Accountability Office recently published a reportoutlining the costs of climate change to the U.S. economy. According to the report, extreme weather – boosted by climate change – has cost the federal government $350 billion, and by the end of the century, the report estimates that the combined costs of climate change could account for up to 2.4 percent of the U.S. GDP.
SAM BEE EVISCERATES PRUITT: On Wednesday night, Samantha Bee did a segment on her show “Full Frontal” about Scott Pruitt’s EPA, denouncing his dangerous policies and highlighting the risks of the Clean Power Plan repeal. Scott Pruitt refuses to acknowledge the facts of climate change, and so she asked her audience to insist that he do so by writing to the EPA demanding a hearing on the CPP, going to the hearing, and protesting whenever and wherever they can.
November 1 — The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine, the nominee to head NASA.
November 2 — House Natural Resources Committee hearing on three separate bills related to water protections and water rights.
November 2 — U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing on potential oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.