QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Like former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned in July under similarly ignoble circumstances, Zinke is exiting to cheers of good riddance. But his leaving is not by itself a cure-all for the agency’s problems. Zinke is leaving behind a toxic culture of cronyism in the highest ranks of its political appointees. Nothing less than a full housecleaning is needed to restore public trust in the Interior Department’s leadership.”
— John Podesta in a fiery new op-ed for the Washington Post about the toxicity of the Trump administration, including Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt, as well as their potential successors
“As the first two years of the Trump administration come to a close, it will be up to Congress to push back against the roll-back of crucial protections for our environment and our climate and to fight for investments in research and development that lead to the technologies that will help realize a clean energy future.”
— Senators Ed Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse wrote in the introduction to their new report on how the Trump administration is the most anti-environmental administration in history
LCV IN THE NEWS:
LA Times: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, under a cloud of scandal, is forced out
BuzzFeed: Ryan Zinke Is Quitting As Interior Department Secretary Amid Ethics Scandals
Yahoo: Senators fight EPA effort to weaken controls on methane pollution
ThinkProgress: House Democrats won’t let Zinke escape investigation, even after he leaves office
Newsweek: Who Is David Bernhardt? Zinke’s Likely Replacement Is A Former Oil And Coal Lobbyist Who Fought To Limit The Endangered Species Act
Palm Beach Post: Editorial: DeSantis must either change course or leadership at SFWMD
Arizona Daily Star: Martha McSally’s Senate appointment cheered, blasted along partisan lines
E&E News: Outgoing House Republicans ‘concerned’ about ANWR drilling
NPR Utah: Orrin Hatch’s Legacy: The Environment Becomes A Rallying Point Against ‘Federal Overreach’
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:
New York Daily News (NY): EXCLUSIVE: NYC’s first electric school buses will hit the road next school year
The Buffalo News (NY): Another Voice: New York residents need to improve recycling efforts
Energy News Network (VA): Virginia advocate on what state stands to gain from carbon cap
WFXR Fox News (VA): Report: Virginians pay $250 more on energy bills then they should
Insider NJ (NJ): Murphy Administration Proposes Rules For State’s Re-entry Into Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Tucson.com (AZ): Tucson Electric Power must boost energy-saving programs, critics say
Associated Press (CO): Colorado expands buffer zone between schools, oil-gas wells to 1,000 feet following Proposition 112’s failure
COUNTDOWN TO #TRUMPSHUTDOWN: The deadline to avert a government shutdown is midnight tonight. With Trump behind the wheel during this shutdown, vulnerable communities near EPA superfund sites won’t see any cleanup crews, our national parks will be unstaffed, and countless others will feel the impacts of this administration demanding a cruel and ineffective border wall.
GENE KARPINSKI: “Just when you think Trump couldn’t reach new lows, he holds the government hostage for an environmentally destructive and xenophobic border wall no one else wants. This isn’t a game. A Trump shutdown could furlough thousands of EPA workers charged with protecting public health and jeopardize the safety of our national parks. This administration and the Republican Congress have no clue how to run a country, especially when it comes to protecting our health and our communities – including immigrant families who this administration has treated maliciously from day one.”
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Scandal-ridden Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is officially leaving the Trump administration after a 21 month stint that degraded our public lands and put polluters first.
OUR TAKE: LCV President Gene Karpinski said: “Good riddance to the most scandal-plagued Interior Secretary in recent memory. Between his ethical failures, troubling history on racial issues, and irresponsible policies selling out our majestic public lands and waters to big polluters, it’s past time for Ryan Zinke to go….The investigations into Zinke’s ties to industry and misuse of taxpayer funds must continue and the Department of the Interior must reexamine every decision made during Zinke’s tenure that may have been influenced by the fossil fuel industry and other polluting special interests.”
WHO’S NEXT: There are lots of names floating around for Zinke’s replacement, but one thing is certain: Congress must ensure that the next Secretary of the Interior is committed to protecting our public lands and the communities that depend on them.
GREEN WAVE REACHES THE SHORE: In just 13 days, the new House of Representatives will be sworn in — which means many more environmental champions are joining Congress. They’ll have oversight power over the administration and are already planning on subpoenaing Zinke for his scandals. These investigations are likely to continue even as he leaves his office.
POLLUTION SUBSTITUTION: Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist known for his massive conflicts of interests, is one of the Zinke’s potential replacements at Interior.
DÉJÀ VU: Just last month, LCV was urging senators to reject Andrew Wheeler as the nominee to be the next EPA administrator. While Scott Pruitt led the EPA, he was embattled by constant scandals, and Wheeler, as his number two, helped call the shots to roll back critical environmental protections. Just like Wheeler, Bernhardt helped push forward Trump’s destructive agenda while Zinke was being investigated. Both Wheeler and Bernhardt, should he be Trump’s pick, could be up for confirmation in the new year.
CALLING THEM OUT: This week, Senators Ed Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse – the Chairs of the Senate Climate Change Task Force – put out a new report which “highlights the magnitude of the Trump administration’s betrayal of the American people through its attacks on clean water, clean air, and the federal government’s ability to take action to address climate change and mitigate impacts already being experienced.” Read the full report here.
CONGRESSIONAL FAILURES: Just as Trump would be responsible for shutting down the government, the Republican-led Congress must take responsibility for their year-end failures, including failing to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). A package of bills protecting public lands including LWCF has been punted by the Senate majority, despite these issues enjoying strong bipartisan support.
OUR TAKE: LCV Conservation Program Director Alex Taurel said: “It’s disgraceful that Republican leaders failed to restore a popular conservation program that enjoys strong bipartisan support after presiding over its expiration. Make no mistake: this is also an indictment of Republican LWCF supporters who demonstrated their lack of power to persuade their leadership to save America’s best parks program. We’re counting on the 116th Congress to stop siding with Trump’s attacks on our public lands and fix this right away.”
DIRTY DUCEY: On Tuesday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey appointed Martha McSally to the U.S. Senate to finish out the term of the late Senator John McCain. In the 2018 midterms, McSally lost to Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema – a race in which LCV Victory Fund invested $2.7 million – and McSally was named to LCV Victory Fund’s Senate Dirty Dozen.
OUR TAKE: Chispa Arizona Executive Director Laura Dent said: “The people of Arizona have already rejected Martha McSally for this job. As a Congresswoman, she has supported a $25 billion tax windfall for oil companies and voted to block safeguards against air pollution. Her support for the fossil fuel agenda is limiting Arizona’s clean energy potential, contaminating the air we breathe, and exacerbating health disparities among Latinos, low-income families, and people of color.”
THREE CHEERS FOR D.C.: On Tuesday, the Washington, D.C. Council passed a historic bill requiring that all electricity in the district be generated by renewable sources by 2032. As ThinkProgress notes, the bill requires “all businesses, homes, and municipal operations across D.C. [to] run on 100 percent renewable electricity within 14 years — including the White House.”
RAMPING UP THE ASSAULT ON THE ARCTIC: Poll after poll has shown that people in this country strongly oppose turning the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge into an industrial oil field, but this week the Trump administration took another step to make that our new reality. We condemn this administration’s headlong rush to drill, which would permanently scar one of America’s most majestic landscapes that is home to polar bears, the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and birds that migrate to all fifty states. LCV stands with the Gwich’in people in their efforts to continue preserving this place that is sacred to them.
AND THAT’S A WRAP: The Associated Press was out with their list of the year’s top stories this week, and climate change came in at number nine, right after California’s destructive wildfires. This year was certainly a game-changer, with voters coming out in force to reject the Trump administration’s environmental attacks and call for climate action. We’ll be ready to meet these challenges again in the new year — and this time, a new House majority will have our backs.
TONIGHT — Government funding deadline
January 3 — New Congress begins