THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – December 1, 2017
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“This is what happens when you cut corners and try to sneak drilling into an already terrible tax bill. A rider turning the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into an oil field should not have been part of this tax bill in the first place.”
— Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, in response to the Senate Parliamentarian ruling that Republican leadership’s proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge did not meet reconciliation requirements.
“Lots of outrageous things in the bill aren’t getting the kind of attention they ought to.”
— Alex Taurel, LCV Deputy Legislative Director, on the GOP tax scam
“We must ensure today and every single day moving forward that communities – particularly low income and communities of color – no longer suffer the negative health consequences of this administration’s attacks and inactions on climate change.”
– Betsy Lopez-Wagner, LCV Chispa Communications Director, at the Clean Power Plan repeal hearing in West Virginia
LCV IN THE NEWS:
New York Daily News: Senate Republicans want to pass tax plan so they can drill for oil in Alaska
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:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI): Wisconsin, under Scott Walker, no longer leads in conservation
Wisconsin Public Radio (WI): Wisconsin lawmakers consider eliminating state air pollution rules
Press of Atlantic City (NJ): Environmental groups have list of priorities for friendly new governor
Farmington Daily Times (CO): Opponents of methane delay gather as lawmakers, industry reps disagree on Four Corners methane emissions
Associated Press (MI): Michigan, Enbridge reach deal to boost safety of pipelines
Albuquerque Journal (NM): Group wants settlement money used to replace diesel school buses
SIREN: 62 PERCENT OF CONSTITUENTS IN 8 DISTRICTS OPPOSE GOP’S ARCTIC REFUGE DRILLING PLAN: Last week, the League of Conservation Voters released a new bipartisan poll in eight key House districts on the GOP’s backdoor plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The poll found that the attempt to drill in one of our best protected wildlife refuges is wildly unpopular – 62 percent opposed the proposal, making it even less popular than the disastrous tax plan.
That’s why LCV hosted a rally on Capitol Hill this Thursday. Senators Tom Udall (NM), Maria Cantwell (WA), Ed Markey (MA), Michael Bennet (CO) and Martin Heinrich (NM) joined Gwich’in tribal leaders and other advocates for a press conference decrying the GOP’s attempt to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
SELL OIL TO PAY FOR DRILLING?: On Wednesday, the Senate Parliamentarian ruled that the Republican effort to open up drilling in the Arctic Refuge through the budget reconciliation process violates the Byrd rule, which restricts reconciliation to purely budgetary issues. Yet the GOP is reportedly trying to get around the ruling by selling more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI IN 2015: Murkowski was once adamant that “the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not an ATM” and “is certainly not the petty cash drawer for Congress.”
… BUT TODAY: Republicans are selling millions of barrels from our nation’s emergency energy reserve to pay for Arctic Refuge drilling and tax cuts for huge corporations.
SOMEONE GOT THE MESSAGE: Thursday afternoon, twelve Republican members of the House sent a letter to GOP leadership opposing including Arctic Refuge drilling in the tax plan. Half of these Republicans voted for the tax plan when it passed the House, and the group of twelve includes both moderates and Freedom Caucus members. As the letter states, “Support for [the Arctic Refuge’s] protection remains strong today. After years of debate, the Arctic Refuge stands as a symbol of our nation’s strong and enduring natural legacy.”
IMMINENT MONUMENTS ANNOUNCEMENT: Reports out Thursday night indicate that President Trump intends to announce a plan to shrink two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, on Monday. This move is both dangerous and outside the president’s authority. By shrinking these culturally and historically important national monuments, Trump is ignoring the 2.8 million public comments calling for the continued protection of our parks and selling out these places as a gift to the fossil fuel industry.
WATCH: LCV Director of Local and Bipartisan Strategies John Reuter explains what this means.
CLEAN POWER PLAN SECRECY: On Tuesday, the EPA held its mandated hearing on repealing the Clean Power Plan in Charleston, West Virginia, hoping to sneak it under the radar and avoid attention on this deeply unpopular plan. Scott Pruitt did not attend the hearing, but Sara Jordan, LCV’s legislative representative, and Betsy Lopez-Wagner, LCV’s Chispa communications director, both testified in support of clean air protections. Sara’s testimony can be found here and Betsy’s here. With the CEO of Murray Energy also testifying, the Clean Power Plan repeal hearing made clear what we’ve all known – that Pruitt’s goal at the EPA is to sell out the health and safety of our communities to help his industry buddies.
CAN THEY PARDON THIS BIRD TOO?: December 1st ends the Interior Department’s comment period on their plan to gut sage grouse protections. The current conservation plans were developed with input from governors, local leaders, ranchers, and other stakeholders who worked for years to conserve the fragile habitat while meeting the needs of communities. During the comment period, communities across the country submitted hundreds of thousands of comments urging Secretary Ryan Zinke not to roll back the bipartisan, collaborative plans that helped create certainty for people across the West and the hundreds of species that depend on the sagebrush ecosystem.
WORTH A READ: Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday entitled “Trump Should Fire the E.P.A.’s Scott Pruitt.”
MORE NOMINEES FACE OPPOSITION: More than 300 scientists wrote a letter to the Senate opposing the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett-White to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, questioning her scientific credentials and condemning her climate change denialism. As the letter states, “This is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of defending scientific integrity. Climate change threatens us all, regardless of political affiliation.” In her hearing last week, Hartnett-White did not appear to know basic scientific facts that would inform much of her work, such as that water expands when it is warmed. Her nomination was voted through by the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works on Wednesday and now goes to the full Senate, where the LCV will continue to fight her confirmation.
WHEELER PASSES COMMITTEE TOO: In addition to Hartnett-White, Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the EPA, was advanced by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and will now go to a vote of the whole Senate. Wheeler is a former lobbyist for Murray Energy, a major coal company and political supporter of Trump and Scott Pruitt. Wheeler represents the worst aspects of Pruitt’s EPA – close ties to industry and a preference for corporate profits over the health and safety of our communities.
CONGRESS CREATING CHAOS ON CLEAN WATER: As the clock winds down on this year’s spending bills, the Washington Post takes another look at an issue we flagged earlier this year: buried in the Interior Appropriations bill and at risk of being lumped into an omnibus spending package is a provision to exempt the repeal of the Clean Water Rule from legal requirements and public review. This radical provision aims to shield the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers’ repeal of safeguards for the drinking water of one in three people from public and legal scrutiny. For example, the agencies could ignore Clean Water Act and Administrative Procedure Act requirements that the repeal meaningfully consider public comment. It could also interfere with the courts’ ability to review if the withdrawal is “arbitrary or capricious.”
SATURDAY READ: Scientific American and E&E News collaborated on a deep dive into Trump’s judicial nominees and their potential decades-long impact on environmental policy. In short: Trump’s nominees could do immense damage to our environmental laws.
CARBON COSTS FARMERS: A new study from Purdue University estimates a higher social cost of carbon than previously figured, with particular drains on farmers in the Midwest. Previous studies had calculated that increased carbon might help farmers, but the new study argues that those statements are out of date and inaccurate. Climate change will hurt food production and raise food prices, but the Trump administration continues to do nothing to curb carbon emissions or to prevent climate change.
December 2 – Rally at the Utah State Capitol to oppose Trump’s reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments
December 4 – Trump National Monument announcement in Utah
December 4 – The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Subcommittee on The Interior, Energy and Environment will hold a hearing on the impact of the 2017 hurricane season on the US Virgin Islands
December 5 – The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing on several bills on energy production and energy storage
December 6 – The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight will hold hearings on Superfund site cleanup in the wake of natural disasters.
December 7 – Scott Pruitt will testify before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment