QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Each one of these places — from the Birmingham Civil Rights Monument to the Carrizo Plain National Monument — was designated by previous presidents using the Antiquities Act. Each of those presidents saw a truth too valuable to lose, a truth that would help us understand ourselves, our past, our country. Now, Trump and his allies suggest they know better than these past presidents.”
“Rather than handing over our publicly owned waters to private oil companies as Trump and Zinke are proposing, we ought to accelerate the transition to clean energy to power our economy.”
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Teen Vogue: National Monuments Are Much More Than Just Parks
Washington Post: Here’s how the Senate’s two new Democrats change its energy math
Public News Service: Latino Group Protests Trump Environmental Nominee
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:
Tampa Bay Times (FL): What environmental issues will dominate the 2018 session?
Baltimore Sun (MD): Advocates pushing lawmakers to clean up Maryland’s renewable energy supply
Queens Chronicle (NY): Environment group hails Council gains
Roanoke Times (VA): Town: 2017 election outcome a huge win for the environment
Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA): Trieste Lockwood column: Virginia makes steps toward cleaner air, economic growth
Chicago Sun-Times (WI): EDITORIAL: As Trump weakens EPA, citizens must lead fight to protect environ
NEW DRILLING RULES…: Just before the new year, the Trump administration announced plans to overhaul safety regulations on offshore drilling rigs, which were implemented in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill. This shift is a blatant handout to industry, weakening crucial safety standards to simple recommendations. The new proposal will replace independent safety inspections with industry recommendations and will provide industry with legal cover in the event of an accident. The result will be offshore drilling that’s even more dangerous.
…AND NEW DRILLING PLANS: Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the Trump administration’s plans to drastically increase offshore drilling, proposing to auction drilling rights along virtually all U.S. coasts. Governors of the states along many of these shores – both Republican and Democrat – vocally oppose drilling, but the Trump administration is prioritizing its polluter buddies with this enormous handout.
TRUMP’S TEMPERATURE ERRORS: Over the holiday, President Trump tweeted that the east coast’s unusually cold New Years’ Eve disproved global warming. Trump’s misunderstanding of the difference between climate and weather was met with resounding scorn from scientists, reporters, and even members of his own party. In fact, this week the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a Europe-based international weather agency, announced that 2017 was the second hottest year on record, just behind 2016.
PRESIDENT TRUMP, READ THIS: On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article explaining how climate change could actually be responsible for the current cold snap.
NEW RESEARCH: This week, The Guardian highlighted new research from the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, which found that if global warming exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius, more than a quarter of the planet could become arid.
WELCOME TO THE SENATE: Senators Doug Jones and Tina Smith joined the chamber this week, bolstering the green firewall of defense against the Trump administration’s relentless attacks. Both new senators are strong environmental advocates – Smith pushed for a renewable energy standard in Minnesota and Jones criticized Trump’s move to pull the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement on the campaign trail. We look forward to working with them to protect our air, water, lands and wildlife.
“MORE THAN JUST PARKS”: Darien Davis, the Congressional Champions project assistant for the League of Conservation Voters, wrote an op-ed in Teen Vogue this week articulating the necessity of maintaining our national parks and monuments in the wake of the Trump administration’s attacks on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. As she writes, our parks are not just collections of land and plants and animals. They are physical manifestations of our history, telling the story of the civil rights movement or the Stonewall riot or Indigenous Americans from thousands of years ago. By shrinking these monuments and selling them out to industry, the Trump administration is undermining that history.
SUPERFUND FLOODING RISKS: A new Associated Press investigation found that more than 300 toxic Superfund sites are vulnerable to flooding and sea-level rise caused by global warming. More than 2 million people live within a mile of one of these sites, and their pollution disproportionately impacts low-income and communities of color. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the risks of this type of contamination became clear when more than a dozen Superfund sites in Houston flooded. The Obama administration had initiated plans to mitigate the effect of climate change on Superfund cleanup, but the Trump administration has continued to deny the existence of climate change, and their proposed budget would slash cleanup funding by one-third — failing to make contamination a priority and putting 2 million people at risk.
WORTH A READ: The Houston Chronicle published an editorial Tuesday denouncing Trump’s nominee to head up the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Kathleen Hartnett White, who has failed to take climate change and its impacts seriously.
SHADY SCOTT’S SHADY APPOINTEE: Last week, The Intercept published an investigation into Albert Kelly, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s pick to lead a commission overseeing the Superfund program. Kelly is a former banker from Oklahoma who the FDIC has banned for life, as well as a major political donor to Pruitt. The Intercept’s investigation found that Kelly’s community bank, SpiritBank, had loaned Pruitt more than $600,000, despite Pruitt’s limited income as a state senator. Pruitt has repeatedly helped Kelly out with political favors, naming him to commissions and failing to regulate the worst bankers (like Kelly). Kelly has no experience in environmental regulation or cleanup, and has no business overseeing the Superfund program.
LEAD PREVENTION: Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that the EPA must update its lead standards rules within 90 days and must implement a final regulation one year later. Lead regulations have remained the same since January 2001, despite research demonstrating more and greater adverse effects from lead exposure. The EPA had asked for six years to review evidence and formulate a final rule, but the federal court rightly rejected such a prolonged and risky review process.
EPA YEAR IN REVIEW: The Daily Beast published a retrospective of “The Ten Worst Things Scott Pruitt’s EPA Has Already Done,” collecting and enumerating Pruitt’s worst actions from the last year. And last week, the Washington Post published an in-depth profile on Pruitt and all of the damage he has done in his one year on the job.
WORTH A READ: A summer intern with the EPA published an account of her time there in the Washington Post. She describes the ways the agency has failed to communicate with the public and the fear and disillusion among career staff under Pruitt.
DELAWARE TAKES A STAND: This week, Delaware threatened to sue the EPA for failing to enforce the Clean Air Act. Delaware claims that its air is being polluted by plants in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and that the EPA has a responsibility to regulate these plants under the Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” provision. Delaware had filed petitions with the EPA in 2016, but now threatens to sue the agency because it has repeatedly failed to respond to these petitions.
January 8: State-initiated hearing in Delaware on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan
January 9: State-initiated hearing in New York on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan
January 11: State-initiated hearings in Maryland and Pennsylvania on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan
January 16: Comment period on Clean Power Plan repeal ends
January 19: Government funding expires
January 30: President Trump delivers his first State of the Union address
February 2: Lands cut by President Trump from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments available for drilling and mining claims
February 22: Interior Department holds first public meeting on its proposal to dramatically expand offshore drilling to all of our coasts