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This Week In Climate (In)Action

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – July 20, 2018

Jul 20, 2018

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“Kavanaugh’s environmental positions stand in stark contrast to what the overwhelming majority of Americans want and what the laws of our land require. When the American people — and the senators who represent them — learn more about Kavanaugh’s record and fully understand what’s at stake, then we have a fighting chance.”

— Senator Tom Carper compares Brett Kavanaugh to disgraced former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in an op-ed for USA Today

 

“Kavanaugh argued that the EPA should not regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act because the cost of business was more important than protecting the environment and public health from climate change.”

— Senator Mazie Hirono takes aim at Kavanaugh, declaring the nominee as a direct threat to critical environmental protections

 

“The bottom line is that because of our landmark environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, our rivers are cleaner, our air is easier to breathe, and families are better protected than ever before. It would be a grave mistake to go backwards.”

— Senator Patty Murray defends the importance of clean air and water — both of which would be at risk under a conservative court

 

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

Roll Call: The Great Outdoors Threatened by a Funding Battle

E&E News: LCV staffs up for Supreme Court fight

Politico: Carbon tax vote tests GOP climate moderates

E&E News: Loud backlash, quiet support for offshore plan in key races

Washington Examiner: Environmentalist: ‘Brett Kavanaugh is the new Scott Pruitt’

E&E News: Mont. race tests Trump’s red-state reach

 

 

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:

 

Albuquerque Journal (NM): Governors fret over impact of Trump trade wars

Bristol Herald Courier (CT): Governor forum planned on climate change challenges

WILX 10 (MI): Agency seeks ways to keep fire retardants out of Great Lake

Colorado Politics (CO): Conservation Colorado released its annual scorecard. This Dem scored a 0.

 

 

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ALL EYES ON SCOTUS: As Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s choice for the open Supreme Court seat, makes the rounds on Capitol Hill, we are sounding the alarm. For our critical environmental protections, Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court would restrict the types of pollution the EPA can regulate, and likely result in a full-scale assault on the authority to regulate carbon dioxide, which was set by Massachusetts v. EPA. As a judge, Kavanaugh has consistently sided with polluters over the protection of our clean air, clean water, endangered species and public lands.

 

SOME MIGHT SAY that Kavanaugh is the new Scott Pruitt — and it’s on all of us to stop him from causing more damage than Pruitt ever could.

 

HELLER, VOTERS ARE WATCHING! Kavanaugh has a long record of dismantling environmental protections, and that includes trying to force the federal government to move ahead with plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. As the Washington Post reported this week, this could become a major issue in Nevada. If Senator Dean Heller votes to confirm Kavanaugh  to the Supreme Court, Nevadans will have yet another reason to vote him out in November.

 

COURTIN’ TROUBLE: The Senate confirmed Andrew Oldham to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas — a disaster for the environment. Oldham worked with disgraced former Administrator Scott Pruitt to challenge the EPA’s ability to implement the Clean Air Act and regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and called the EPA “fundamentally illegitimate”. This is the latest confirmation in a disturbing trend of anti-environment judges that the GOP-controlled Senate keeps ramming through.

 

BUT — A WIN! In a rare win against Trump’s judicial nominees, the Senate withdrew Ryan Bounds’ nomination to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a court that is critical in hearing environmental cases. This win proves it only takes one Republican senator to block an anti-environment, anti-voting rights takeover of the courts — and we can and must defeat Brett Kavanaugh.

 

BIG BAD BILL: The House passed a major appropriations bill this week that was filled to the brim with anti-environmental riders. H.R. 6147 makes deep cuts to the EPA and essential conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund while repealing drinking water protections for 117 million people and attacking wildlife protections. Republican leadership needs to knock it off with the repeated attempts to eliminate these critical environmental protections.

 

SILVER LINING: We defeated an amendment that cut funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, so we’re confident that there’s broad bipartisan support for the program. Now we just need a vote before it expires on September 30. We were also happy to see the House defeat an amendment attacking an Arizona national monument, demonstrating the unpopularity — even in the anti-environmental, GOP-led House of Representatives — of Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump administration’s cutbacks of national monuments.

 

HOUSE BLOCKS CLIMATE ACTION: The House also passed a radical anti-climate solutions resolution this week which seeks to prevent even the exploration of options that address the impacts, causes and challenges of climate change. The fact that this anti-climate resolution came to a vote in the first place shows just how beholden the extreme House Republican leadership is to the Koch brothers and their polluter agenda. And it wasn’t the only anti-climate vote in recent days — the House passed two other dangerous anti-climate amendments, one blocking EPA from setting limits on methane pollution and another requiring the government blind itself to the costs of climate change. These votes help determine who is more interested in blocking climate action than finding real solutions, and we’ll continue to hold House members accountable.

 

WHAT WE’RE UP TO: More than 125 parents, students, families, and activists organized by LCV’s Chispa gathered at the New Mexico Capitol Thursday morning to demand governors, attending nearby the summer meeting of the National Governors Association, use the $2.7 billion in Volkswagen settlement money to replace diesel school buses with zero-emission, electric school buses. Chispa’s #CleanRide4Kids campaign aims to reduce exposure to toxic pollution from diesel school buses, ridden by 25 million kids almost every day and secure their right to clean air.

 

MIDTERMS UPDATE: A new report from the Center for Western Priorities tells us what we’ve long known: public land conservation is a winning campaign issue in the West. The report reveals that voters — regardless of party — care deeply about preserving our lands for hiking, hunting, fishing and camping. We want to see candidates lean into these issues and commit to preservation as well as clean air and water for our communities.

 

ZINKE UNDER SCRUTINY: Remember when Zinke greenlighted a real estate deal with Halliburton and was promised a microbrewery in exchange? The Inspector General at the Department of the Interior is investigating that suspect deal — looking into whether Zinke violated any ethics laws. Keep in mind that Halliburton is an oil giant, and Zinke is tasked with protecting our public lands from companies just like that.

 

WHAT’S HE HIDING: CNN reported Friday morning that Zinke’s public calendars have been missing important details about his official meetings — including companies that do business with the Interior Department. “He shows the same deliberate lack of transparency that brought down Scott Pruitt,” Representative Raul Grijalva told CNN.

 

PRUITT PROBLEMS: Pruitt may be gone, but he’s not forgotten. Representative Elijah Cummings wants to know why Pruitt had staff slow-walk FOIA requests that were deemed “politically charged” — a clear ethical violation that intended to obscure documents from public view. Now we know what some of these records show: a history of Pruitt’s industry collusion and corrupt abuse of power.

 

SAME OLD, SAME OLD: Even under new leadership, the EPA is still a swamp of ethical violations and industry cronyism. Henry Darwin, the EPA’s head of operations, pushed for a job at the agency for his wife while negotiating his own salary — a job she ultimately received. Newly appointed acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler rewarded this corrupt behavior by promoting him to acting deputy administrator.

 

SIREN: Wheeler is committed  to the same dangerous, destructive, anti-environmental policies that Pruitt embraced before him: “Of course we are absolutely implementing President Trump’s agenda.”  Look for more rollbacks that make our communities significantly less safe and healthy.

 

DOUBLE SIREN: When a coal executive endorses someone for the top job at the EPA, you probably don’t want them running the show. But that’s exactly what happened with Wheeler, who received a vote of confidence from his former lobbying client, coal baron Bob Murray — a massive conflict of interest for the agency that’s supposed to keep polluters in check .

SO MUCH FOR BEING A CHEESE LOBBYIST: While Wheeler has tried to deflect from his coal industry ties by highlighting his time as a dairy lobbyist, he showed his true colors when his first act as administrator was to roll back standards regarding coal ash disposal.

 

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: Knowing that the fight to confirm another industry hack to head the EPA will be politically difficult — at best — Republicans are content to wait years to officially confirm him to the top job. A qualified, capable candidate committed to the ideals of the agency shouldn’t have nearly that much trouble getting through the Senate, but the Trump administration remains committed to putting polluters in charge .

 

KIDS V. TRUMP: Trump decided to challenge a group of kids in the Supreme Court after a number of young activists sued the government for failing to protect them from the effects of climate change. What do the kids want if they win the suit? A number of pro-environment policies aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change.

 

SPEAKING OUT: Remember Pruitt’s rule that would prevent the EPA from consulting most large-scale environmental research? Scientific and medical institutions have continued to  speak out against the policy — ridiculing it as a  ludicrous step that would remove much of the scientific basis on which the EPA should be developing its policies.

 

WEEKEND READ: Baseball is on track to be yet another victim of the effects of climate change, leaving us pondering the future of America’s pastime. From gametime weather to the wood used in bats, there’s a lot at risk — read more to find out!

 

 

COMING UP:

 

NEXT WEEK — Trump administration expected to announce official rollback of the Clean Car Standards

 

AUGUST 1 — Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler testifies before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

 

August-– Trump administration expected to release their proposal to replace the Clean Water Rule, which will severely limit pollution protections under the Clean Water Act.

 

SEPTEMBER 30 — Expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s best parks program.