QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Almost every decision to date would suggest otherwise. Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Wheeler.”
— Senator Tom Carper tweeted after coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler said he believed climate change was an “8 or 9” on a scale from 1-10 during his confirmation hearing for EPA administrator
“The Nat’l Climate Assessment, a dire warning from 13 federal agencies that we must take immediate action to fight climate change, was released in November. Andrew Wheeler says he hasn’t fully reviewed it. That’s unacceptable & disqualifying for someone who wants to run the EPA.”
— Senator Ed Markey tweeted about the unacceptable answer Andrew Wheeler gave during his confirmation hearing for EPA administrator
LCV IN THE NEWS:
The Dispatch-Argus: Illinois eyeing California’s goal of 100 percent clean energy
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:
Billings Gazette (MT): Montana needs clean energy
Hartford Business (CT): Lamont: Clean energy and economic dev. policies can co-exist
The Post and Courier (SC): SC lawmakers can help solar power shine
New York Patch (NY): Public Advocate Candidates To Debate Environmental Policy In BK
WHEEL OR NO WHEEL: Despite 93 percent of EPA employees being furloughed by the Trump shutdown, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works moved forward with the confirmation hearing of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler for EPA administrator on Wednesday. Luckily, environmental champions on the committee called him out and held him accountable for his ties to polluters and his history of dismantling public health protections and ignoring climate science.
PRUITT 2.0: After Scott Pruitt got booted from the EPA, Wheeler took over as acting administrator. Since then, he’s continued along the same destructive path as Pruitt. When Wheeler took over, he proposed rolling back Clean Water Act protections for the drinking water of tens of millions of people; gutted Mercury Air Toxics Standards that help ensure children, pregnant mothers and other vulnerable populations are protected from the potent neurotoxin; attacked states’ authority to set more aggressive fuel efficiency standards and decimated fuel efficiency Clean Car Standards – which would have saved drivers more than $60 billion, while helping clean up our air and fight climate change.
NEXT UP: The committee is expected to vote on Wheeler as soon as February 5th. We’re continuing to encourage LCV members to call their senators and urge them to oppose this dangerous nominee.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF: This week also featured the hearing of Bill Barr for U.S. attorney general. Back in 1992, when Barr was originally attorney general, he was criticized for creating a loophole in the Clean Air Act. This is concerning given the number of environmental protections that the Justice Department could weigh in on today. In December, LCV signed onto a letter with more than 70 other groups highlighting concerns about Barr’s nomination.
OUR TAKE: LCV’s Judiciary Program Director Ben Driscoll said: “There’s no indication that Barr would challenge the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine our democracy, our voting rights, and the enforcement of crucial environmental protections.”
SHUTDOWN THE SHUTDOWN: The federal government has been shut for 28 days – the longest shutdown in our nation’s history – as a result of Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies. Over the last several days, we’ve seen people trying to clean up the destruction at our national parks, we’ve heard the stories of the impacts in states, and our environmental champions in Congress are urging Trump and Senate Republicans to #EndTheShutdown.
BETTING ON THE HOUSE: The new House majority is continuing to shine a spotlight on the real impacts of the shutdown. This week, the House Committee on Natural Resources hosted a hearing to show how hard the shutdown is hitting Native communities, public health, and our public lands. Many indigenous communities are being forced to decide between food and medicine and more, but as Kansas Representative Sharice Davids noted: “although we’re talking right now about issues with specific tribes and organizations, this affects all of us.”
IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Many essential government safety measures are being halted because of the shutdown, and National Geographic put together this helpful list of the five key environmental impacts. These include putting air and water quality monitoring on hold, stopping FDA efforts to prevent food contamination, and furloughing many marine life rescuers.
SP(OILS) OF THE SHUTDOWN: Trump is barreling ahead with efforts to expand offshore drilling despite the government shutdown. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management brought back some of their furloughed workers to keep working on a plan to open our coasts to polluters. The Bureau of Land Management has also continued to approve drilling permits, and the Department of the Interior is carrying on with their Alaskan oil and gas projects even though only essential operations are meant to continue.
HISTORICAL NOTE: During the 2013 shutdown President Obama did not issue any new drilling permits.
OUR TAKE: LCV, along with Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued a joint statement saying: “Shocking the conscience is everyday fare for the Trump administration. But it is a new level of ‘dirty’ to pursue reckless and dangerous offshore drilling while thousands of federal employees go without pay, national parks are vandalized and shuttered, forest fire prevention funds are being diverted, and the nation’s food supply goes without proper inspection.”
BIG OIL’S TAKE: Fossil fuels couldn’t be happier about operations continuing during the shutdown. The industry’s main trade association’s CEO Mike Sommers said: they “have not seen any major effects of the shutdown on our industry.”
JUDGE’S TAKE: A federal judge in South Carolina blocked the Trump administration from moving forward with seismic airgun blasting, a harmful precursor to offshore drilling, in the Atlantic while the government remains shut down.
A WIN FOR DEMOCRACY: This week, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to remove its citizenship question from the 2020 Census. This is a positive step against the administration’s xenophobic agenda, but it also will ensure that our communities are counted fairly and more accurately, which will impact congressional districts and federal funding for programs that protect our air and water.
CHANGE STARTS LOCALLY: Cities and states continue to lead the way in addressing climate change. Here are some highlights from this week:
FIRST STEP TOWARD A CARBON-FREE COLORADO: Newly-inaugurated Colorado Governor Jared Polis has just issued an executive order that will put more electric cars on the streets of the Centennial State. The move will get Colorado closer to its goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040, making deals and working with electric vehicle companies to ensure that Coloradans have the opportunity to buy and drive clean cars.
LAMONT FLAUNTS CLEAN ENERGY PRIORITIES: Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont laid out a plan for clean air and water policies at an event hosted by our state affiliate, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, on Thursday. Lamont advocated for making Connecticut a zero-emissions state, talked about banning non-renewable materials like plastic and styrofoam, and promised improvements for state transportation, including low or no emissions vehicles.
CITIES LEAD: From Minneapolis to Berkeley to Salt Lake City, local governments across the country are limiting carbon emissions through transit and housing laws. This great piece from WIRED shows why and how they are filling the leadership vacuum for the benefit of their communities.
PARKS AND WRECKED: The Washington Post published a stunning longform feature this week on Trump’s cuts to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – which he pushed to make room for coal mining projects. Communities are still pushing efforts to restore protection for these unique places.
CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS THE PENTAGON: Trump’s Department of Defense released a report on Thursday saying that climate change will have disastrous effects on military operations as well as on national security. Natural disasters will devastate and destroy current military bases, especially ones in coastal regions, and will affect how the DoD deals with issues of national security. This isn’t the first time the department has raised climate concerns — but this time, will Trump listen?
CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS BUSINESSES: Climate change impacts all of us. This year, the environment will dominate the lists of greatest global risks at the World Economic Forum. Among many issues, it includes weather shifts and natural disasters, which affect supply chains and cause severe physical and monetary damage. The World Economic Forum is set to address this issue in Davos, Switzerland starting next week.
TOO REAL: The latest edition of The New Yorker features a list of updates to common idioms to account for the impacts of climate change. This list is a little *too real,* which is why our work now is more important than ever to address the dangers of climate change.
TBD – State of the Union address