QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Reagan tried to get it. Bush tried to get it. Everybody tried to get it. They couldn’t get it passed. That just happens to be here. And we did that at the request of the two great senators from the state of Alaska, which is a very special place. But I will tell you, ANWR is a big, big deal. It’s not ever mentioned by the press, and that was fine until now. Now you can mention it.”
— President Trump, admitting that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is deeply unpopular and was included in the tax bill to ensure Senator Murkowski’s vote
“We are going to defend the Arctic Refuge in the courts, defend it in the board rooms, defend it in Congress and defend it at the ballot box. We will remember the names of those who voted and remember their votes.”
— LCV President Gene Karpinski on the road ahead for the Arctic Refuge
LCV IN THE NEWS:
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:
Detroit Free Press (MI): Critics say legislation would let Michigan industry police itself on pollution rules
Philly Inquirer (PA): Arctic Refuge drilling: immoral, financially dishonest, and deeply unpopular
Press of Atlantic City (NJ): Murphy appoints EPA’s Catherine McCabe to head state DEP
YEAR IN REVIEW: TRUMP DISMANTLES AIR, WATER PROTECTIONS: It’s been a long year. ICYMI, LCV released a comprehensive timeline this week of key rollbacks, oil and gas giveaways, efforts to silence scientists and other abuses of power from the first year under President Trump. No previous administration has ever embarked on such an intentional systematic dismantling of our country’s environmental safeguards and conservation values.
THE GOOD NEWS: The horrendous developments at the federal level stand in stark contrast with the clean energy revolution that continues to build in other countries, states, cities, and the private sector. And with the recent elections in New Jersey, Washington, Virginia and Alabama as key indicators, it’s clear that the people of this country reject those who side with Trump’s anti-environmental agenda.
ARCTIC REFUGE SNUCK INTO TAX BILL: Congressional Republicans passed their tax scam this week, which includes a provision to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Trump and congressional Republicans included this provision to secure Senator Murkowski’s vote on the deeply unpopular tax bill. Opening up the Arctic Refuge is a gift to corporate special interests in the oil and gas industry.
IT’S NOT OVER YET: Environmental groups are standing with the native Gwich’in people and exploring next steps to ensure drilling never begins in the Arctic Refuge, including legal options to challenge drilling in court.
AND WHO WANTS TO DRILL ANYWAY? The Wall Street Journal reported that “Many investors and analysts expect only tepid interest if Congress and the Trump administration follow through on plans to lease out” the Arctic Refuge.
HARTNETT WHITE STALLED? The Senate late Thursday sent Trump’s laughably unqualified nominee to lead the Council on Environmental Quality back to the White House. Kathleen Hartnett White – a conspiracy theorist and anti-science zealot who seems to have plagiarized testimony and has called carbon dioxide the “gas of life” – must now be re-nominated by Trump. Instead of doubling down on one of the worst nominees we’ve seen all year, Trump should reconsider his approach and pick someone who will prioritize protecting our clean air and water. Is that too much to ask?
TRUMP WITCH HUNT AIMED AT EPA CAREER CIVIL SERVANTS: The New York Times and Mother Jones released major investigations into the EPA this past weekend, which detailed efforts by a lawyer, who is affiliated with an EPA contractor, to dig up dirt on career EPA employees who have expressed reservations about Scott Pruitt’s actions as EPA administrator. The contractor, Definers Public Affairs, claims to just monitor media for the EPA, but shares many executives with a Republican campaign research group. The lawyer has filed several FOIA requests for emails and other documents from individuals working at the EPA who have spoken up against Pruitt’s leadership or agenda.
A VOICE OF REASON: As William K. Reilly, the EPA administrator under George Bush, said, “Mr. Pruitt appears not to understand that the two most valuable assets EPA has is the country’s trust and a very committed professional workforce. This shows complete insensitivity, complete tone-deafness, or something worse.”
SEVERANCE: After the investigations, Definers Public Affairs severed its contract with the EPA, saying that it had become a “distraction.”
WEEKEND READ: ProPublica published a deep-dive into Scott Pruitt’s efforts to undo regulations at the EPA. It details both the importance of many of the EPA’s regulations and the disconnect between Pruitt and the career staff at the EPA.
CLEAN POWER PLAN REPEAL KICKS OFF: On Monday, the EPA issued a notice that comments are being accepted on repealing President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. This is the first step in the rulemaking process, which is headed towards an eventual repeal and replace for one of the most important actions our country has taken to combat climate change. Despite this request for comments, however, the EPA appears hell-bent on ignoring the majority of people in this country who support the Clean Power Plan. Scott Pruitt would rather boost his polluter friends’ profits than protect our families and communities.
CLIMATE DENIALISM: According to a Bloomberg report this week, the U.S. is working to prevent any mention of climate change from appearing in a new, reworked NAFTA. Mentions of climate change in a trade agreement would be largely symbolic, and the Trump administration’s antipathy to even symbolically acknowledge the climate crisis is part of a pattern of ignoring the threat this challenge poses to our planet.
NATIONAL DEFENSE TOO: Trump also refused to take climate change into account during a major national security announcement on Monday, despite it threatening to uproot millions of people around the world through drought, wildfires, starvation, rising seas, increased violence, and other climate-induced calamities.
WORTH A LOOK: Bloomberg published “A Year of Climate Change in Photos,” a powerful and insightful perspective on the climate risks we face all around the world.
SUPERFUND CLEANUP CONCERNS: The EPA is implementing a new management strategy for its Superfund cleanup efforts, but the focus of this strategy is grounds for concern. The EPA is not prioritizing the general public as their “customer” but rather the companies and polluters who would benefit most from reduced cleanup costs. This is yet another example of Scott Pruitt’s preference for his industry friends over our families and communities.
NATIONAL PARKS POLL: A new poll from the Outdoor Alliance for Kids found that 64 percent of respondents would be less likely to visit our National Parks with higher entrance fees. This poll was commissioned in response to a proposal made in October to raise fees at 17 of the country’s most popular National Parks in order to cover upkeep costs at the parks. Critics have said that these fee increases would put the cost of visiting a National Park beyond the reach of many families, and this poll shows this to be true.
CALIFORNIA FIGHTS BACK: California filed yet another lawsuit against the Trump administration this week – their 24th of just 2017. This suit challenges the administration’s decision to suspend a rule requiring oil and gas producers to curb methane flaring on federal lands, claiming that the practice worsens air pollution in California and contributes to climate change.
WORTH A READ: InsideClimate News published a profile of Democratic Attorneys General fighting back against President Trump’s anti-environment agenda.
November 6, 2018 – Voters will decide whether to reelect or replace all 435 members of the House of Representatives, one-third of the Senate and 36 governors.
Happy Holidays! Thank you for reading. We will be back in the New Year with updates on Climate (In)Action.