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This Week In Climate (In)Action

THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – June 15, 2018

Jun 15, 2018

Contact: Holly Burke, 202-454-4554, Holly_Burke@lcv.org

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“Corruption oozes out of @EPAScottPruitt’s office like toxic sludge – and working families will get burned by it. I spoke today about why we must clean up the corporate money sloshing around DC, and ensure our government represents real people – not Pruitt’s Big Coal buddies.”

–Senator Elizabeth Warren demolishes Scott Pruitt and his numerous scandals in a speech at Georgetown University Law Center

 

“That allowed us to provide targeted but important increases to programs funded by this bill and to reject the administration’s unjustifiable cuts to Indian education and healthcare and EPA’s bedrock environmental enforcement functions, as well as its proposal to eliminate the Land and Water Conservation Fund and hemorrhage many of our national cultural institutions.”

–Senator Tom Udall’s statement on the EPA and Interior Department’s budget for next year after rejecting Trump’s drastic cuts to their funding

 

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

McClatchy: There’s a fund to protect national parks, but Congress drastically underfunds it

Bloomberg Law: Trump Judicial Nominee Not Helped by Links to Pruitt, Inhofe Says

Bloomberg Environment: Arizona to Use Volkswagen Settlement Money for School Buses

Politico: BLM’S FRIDAY HAPPY HOUR?

 

 

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:

 

Energy News Network (MI): Michigan utility plans major shift from coal to solar in coming decades

Western Slope Now (CO): Climate Changing Your Outdoor Recreation

Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA): Virginia League of Conservation Voters pushes back against Clarke appointment to SCC

Detroit Free Press (MI): Controversial environmental review bills headed to Gov. Snyder

Wisconsin Gazette (WI): Wisconsin Dems score Senate seat in election Walker didn’t want to hold

 

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ABUSE OF POWER: The Scott Pruitt saga continues.  As EPA administrator, he leveraged access to the Trump donor network to line up a job for his wife at a conservative political group. This is totally unacceptable — yet absolutely not out of character for the corrupt, scandal-ridden EPA chief. To make matters worse, he enlisted one of his aides at the agency to do the dirty work for him, contacting donors in pursuit of a job for his wife.  

 

A WELL-TIMED REPORT: After the Chick-fil-A fiasco, six House Democrats sought to open a criminal investigation into Pruitt’s abuse of power — claiming that Pruitt abused his office for personal gain.

 

SENATE REPUBLICANS WANT IN, TOO: A few Senate Republicans have called on Pruitt to testify before Congress about his complex web of scandals.

 

OUR TAKE: It’s past time for Pruitt to go. Pruitt repeatedly proves that he’s only focused on his personal interests. Time and time again, we’ve seen him abuse our tax dollars and his prestigious office to live large at the expense of people and communities all across the country.

 

SIREN — BIG DONOR BUYS EPA APPOINTMENTS: A major Trump donor provided Pruitt with a list of candidates to lead a scientific body that reviews critical EPA regulations — revealing precisely what money can buy in the Trump administration. This high-level access for the rich and powerful is a trademark of Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA, inviting lobbyists, industry executives, and wealthy donors into his inner circle, reaping the personal benefits, and allowing them access into his decision-making.

 

SHOW ME THE PUBLIC RECORDS: Pruitt came under congressional fire this week after Representative Elijah Cummings rightfully called him out for hiding information from the public. In a letter, Cummings points out to Pruitt that, based on accounts from Pruitt’s former chief of staff,  “you appear to be intentionally delaying the release of documents under FOIA relating to your tenure at EPA.” By withholding this information from the public, we have no way of knowing what exactly Pruitt is up to. With polluters pulling the strings behind the scenes and questionable uses of tax dollars, we need the most transparency we can get.

 

WOW — KEY ALLIES ABANDON PRUITT: In the last few days, more than a few top conservatives have jumped off the Pruitt train, sensing his impending implosion is just around the next bend. Most notably:

 

TRUMP: PRUITT IS NOT “BLAMELESS” Despite refusing to fully condemn Pruitt for his disgraceful abuse of taxpayer dollars, self-serving governance, and destructive deregulation, Trump did admit that the scandal-prone EPA chief is not “blameless” for the recent scrutiny. And as of today Trump reiterated that he’s “not happy with certain things” about his EPA administrator’s behavior.

 

INHOFE: PRUITT MAY HAVE TO “LEAVE THAT JOB” Staunch conservative and climate denier Senator James Inhofe finally abandoned his ideological ally, saying that Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler could continue destroying the environment without Pruitt’s scandalous baggage.

 

NATIONAL REVIEW: “SCOTT PRUITT SHOULD GO” The conservative outlet finally called for Pruitt’s resignation, clearly fed up with the lies, corruption, and self-servitude that has defined his reign at the EPA thus far.

 

CONSERVATIVE GROUP: “PRUITT MUST GO” Taking things a step further, the conservative organization American Future Fund is running harsh attack ads against Pruitt — calling his behavior embarrassing to the president and pushing for Trump to fire the scandal-ridden “swamp monster.” Check out the ad here — we promise it’s worth a watch.

 

WHY IT MATTERS: Feeling a little too caught up in the day-to-day Pruitt drama? Losing sight of the horrific damage he’s done to the EPA and our planet during his short tenure? Check out Vox’s feature on two environmental policies Pruitt is hard at work unwinding while corruption and scandals grab attention — sneaky. Millions of people benefit from public health protections like those against pollution and toxic chemicals — we can’t let Pruitt erase all that progress.

 

HIGH STAKES: Researchers found that Pruitt’s new EPA policies could lead to nearly 80,000 deaths per decade in the United States — and that’s just their conservative estimate. This conclusion was based on the potential end results of eight separate policy changes from Pruitt’s tenure, including the elimination of water and air protections as well as increased exposure to toxic chemicals. This is a jaw-dropping total, and it’s entirely in the hands of Pruitt, Trump, and anyone in Congress who refuses to hold them accountable.

 

DIRTY WATER: In an effort to distract from his scandals and save his job, Pruitt sent his proposed replacement of the Clean Water Rule to OMB for interagency review. This is a procedural step that ordinarily wouldn’t be announced but it looks like someone is scrambling to stay on the president’s good side. Only in the Trump Administration would taking away clean drinking water protections from millions of people be considered an appropriate birthday present.

 

PLAYING HOOKY: Abdicating America’s leadership role on the world stage, Trump ditched the climate change session of the G7 summit — taking off for Singapore as soon as the subject of environmental sustainability was broached by other world leaders. While other countries have leaders who care about climate change and ocean pollution, ours is too busy tearing families apart and cozying up to industry cronies to keep our communities safe from the devastating effects of climate change.

 

MEANWHILE: The rest of the G7 is moving on without us. After Trump’s departure from the summit — signalling his lack of interest in helping to solve the climate crisis — the G7 nations recommitted to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and vowed to push forward  carbon emission reductions as well as investments in infrastructure improvements that will weather the inevitable effects of climate change. The United States, however, reaffirmed its support for fossil fuels, revealing that our leadership is painfully behind the times.

 

MORE LIES: Zinke’s Interior Department proved they have been lying for months about the cancellation of a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine mountaintop removal mining study – which was focused on the harmful process that has decimated the health and environment of Appalachia. The study was cancelled halfway to completion, wasting over $450,000 and failing to provide critical information on the impacts of this deadly practice on local communities. The Inspector General has confirmed DOI had no real basis for halting the study– so was it just another favor to Zinke’s polluting industry buddies?  

 

“THERE IS NO TIME TO LOSE”: These were the wise words of Pope Francis last Saturday, convening oil executives to convince them of the importance of acting on climate change. The Pope’s warning came as oil companies are facing increasing economic and social pressure to abandon their dirty and outdated business model in favor of investments in green, sustainable energy solutions. We applaud Pope Francis for his leadership on climate change — especially given the White House’s absence on this issue.

 

MO MONEY, LESS PROBLEMS: Unlike Biggie, the EPA and Department of the Interior function better when they’re provided adequate funding. Thankfully, the Senate stood up to Trump and rejected his proposed cuts to their budgets — ensuring that these fine public servants aren’t further hamstrung in their efforts to protect our lands, water, and air, despite the desire of their leadership.

 

UH OH: In the last decade, ice loss in the Antarctic has tripled — shedding 200 billion tons of ice and adding half a millimeter to the sea level each year. As WaPo’s Chris Mooney notes, “if that continues we are in serious trouble.” Rapidly rising global temperatures as a result of human activity is wreaking havoc all over the globe from rising sea levels to stronger storms, and everyone is at risk. We need leaders willing to take the reins on the climate change challenge — not those like Trump, Pruitt and Zinke who turn away.

 

BIG ELECTION WINS: On Tuesday night, voters in Wisconsin and South Carolina defeated pro-polluter politicians in favor of candidates who will fight for their communities. We’re proud of our state partners’ investments in these tight races to bring environmental protections and clean energy advances to a number of communities.

 

FROM THE DESK OF . . . Kerry Schumann, Wisconsin LCV PAC Executive Director, on their big special election win: “Caleb Frostman will be a conservation champion for his constituents. Voters in Senate District 1 sent a clear message tonight that clean water, abundant natural resources, and public health are priorities for every Wisconsinite… This election almost didn’t happen. Gov. Scott Walker was frightened by who might win and he tried to skirt the law. Wisconsin is brimming with people tired of their state being abused by corporate polluters who keep Walker in power.”

 

JUDICIAL WATCH: On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Patrick Wyrick — Pruitt’s partner-in-crime for attacking environmental protections in Oklahoma. He is far too ideologically extreme and anti-environmental to sit on a federal bench, and we’ll continue to urge senators to vote no.

 

ON THE RADAR: Today, the Bureau of Land Management will be holding its one — and only — public hearing outside of Alaska on its plans to move forward with drilling in the Arctic Refuge. This hearing is extremely critical to show the administration, Congress, and the oil companies that we will NOT stand idly by as lawmakers try to sell some of our wildest and fragile public lands.

 

WHAT’S UP WITH MICHIGAN? For some reason, the Michigan state legislature approved the creation of a private industry panel within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the panel will have a stake in critical regulatory decisions. Many believe — and rightfully so — that this new panel will speed up environmental deregulation in the state. Now more than half of the voting members of the environmental rules panel will hail from industries such as oil and gas, agriculture and manufacturing, which often have interests that conflict with keeping our families healthy and safe from environmental disaster.

 

REPS — KEEP THE FARM BILL CLEAN! Because a fair, bipartisan Farm Bill made its way through the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, we wanted to provide this friendly reminder to our friends in the House of Representatives. A clean Farm Bill is NOT loaded up with anti-environmental riders and handouts for industry — which the Republicans in Congress tried to tack on last time. Keep your eyes peeled to see what crops up in the House in the coming weeks.

 

COMING UP:

 

TODAY — the BLM’s public hearing on Arctic drilling

RUMORED FOR MONDAY — Clean car standards rollback published in the federal registrar, kicking off a 45-day comment period.

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