QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“One can comfortably say that he was the single most influential justice for environmental law over the past 30 years, […] Many of those cases were sharply divided, but the one constant was that Kennedy was in the majority in every single case but one. He was the justice that advocates always tried to persuade, because he was persuadable.”
— Harvard law professor Richard J. Lazarus on what Justice Kennedy’s retirement means for for environmental policy
“Staff has been under attack during your tenure…there’s documented retaliation, as far as I’m concerned.”
— Representative Betty McCollum fired a warning shot at Scott Pruitt while he testified on Capitol Hill, hinting at the possible consequences of his abuse of staff members
“If the Trump administration were not mired in day-to-day chaos, the escapades of former Montana congressman and now Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would be front page news almost daily…Taken individually, each of these issues is disturbing. Taken together they suggest an arrogant abuse of power.”
— The Editorial Board of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle called Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke out for his corruption and scandal
LCV IN THE NEWS:
E&E News: Election Year War Looms Over Kennedy’s Replacement
Orlando Sentinel: League of Conservation Voters endorses Darren Soto
E&E News: Magnuson-Stevens overhaul, sea lion bill set for votes
Bloomberg BNA: Trump’s Supreme Court Candidates Leave Environmental Paper Trail
National Journal: Conservation-Fund Advocates Target Republican Support
Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls: The stakes for our environment, our health, and our democracy have never been higher, and the fight over this Supreme Court vacancy could not be more important
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:
WAMC (NY): Environmental Groups Offer Lukewarm Review Of NY Legislative Session With Much Work Left Aside
Penobscot Bay Pilot (ME): Maine Conservation Action Fund Endorses Janet Mills for Governor
Massachusetts Patch (MA): Lewis Endorsed by Environmental and Conservation Advocates
NBC-2.com (FL): Rising seas threaten Florida, and there’s little action from Rick Scott or Tallahassee
LCV CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: As no one missed, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement this week.
OUR TAKE: “Justice Kennedy’s retirement shines a bright spotlight on the importance of our courts, especially the highest court, for the environment, public health, and the rights of people to have a say in their government. The stakes for our environment, climate and democracy have never been higher, and our more than two million members will be out in force to ensure that Justice Kennedy’s successor upholds the values we share as a nation.” – LCV President Gene Karpinski
HIGHEST COURT, HIGHEST STAKES: As many have pointed out this week, Justice Kennedy was the key vote in many of the Court’s most important 5-4 decisions. This smart piece in The Atlantic shows just how a more conservative justice in his seat might weaken or destroy everything we have fought for, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, protections for our wetlands, and, yes, even the EPA.
FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE: In a landmark Supreme Court decision from 2007, Justice Kennedy gave the deciding vote in Massachusetts v. EPA, which found that the EPA has to fight climate change when shown that it is impacting public health. This should be a no brainer, but it was a 5-4 decision with Kennedy playing the key role. This seat matters for everything we care about and everything is on the line.
CLEANER, GREENER CONGRESS: Tuesday’s primaries delivered two big wins for #EnviroChamps:
SENATOR BEN CARDIN fought off a primary challenge and will fight to keep his Maryland Senate seat this November.
FROM LCV ACTION FUND SVP TIERNAN SITTENFELD: “Senator Cardin consistently defends and advances our bedrock environmental laws and is a champion of clean air and clean water. He knows that acting on climate is imperative to protecting both our national security and Maryland’s beautiful coastlines. We are thrilled to endorse him for reelection.”
JOE NEGUSE won a hard-fought primary battle in Colorado’s 2nd District by mobilizing young voters who are energized by issues like climate change.
SITTENFELD: “Joe Neguse will never stop fighting to protect our public lands and our right to clean air and water. He is part of the new generation of leaders who have embraced our clean energy economy and insist that our political process transform into a more equitable and fair system–one that serves all people in this country. We need voices like Joe Neguse’s now more than ever and we are excited to endorse him in this historic campaign.”
CORRUPTION, INC. Hope you didn’t forget about Pruitt’s $50-a-night rent deal from the Harts, a lobbyist couple. This week, we learned Pruitt considered hiring a friend of the Harts while living in their house. Despite previous claims that there was no professional dimension to their relationship, new emails reveal that Mr. Hart had extensive contact with Pruitt’s chief of staff about hiring a family friend as well as a handful of policies that related to his clients.
NOTE: Pruitt said, on April 4, that Mr. Hart had no business before the EPA.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Pruitt might have traded access to EPA decision-making in exchange for a cheap place to live. He may have sold out our protections for clean air and water, our health, and more to better his own lifestyle. Yet another reason we have to #BOOTPRUITT.
DESTRUCTION, INC.: While Pruitt is personally profiting off his power, he’s also hard at work destroying the agency he’s supposed to serve. The Wall Street Journal reported that Pruitt wants to do away with the EPA’s veto power over permits to dump waste in waterways — one of the agency’s most powerful tools for curbing excessive business development that threatens the environment. The EPA has had this authority since the enactment of the 1972 Clean Water Act and frequently uses it as “leverage to encourage developers into more environmentally friendly practices.” Pruitt will stop at nothing to destroy the EPA and allow polluters to wreak havoc on our environment.
WHAT IS HE HIDING?: Since taking office in February of 2017, Pruitt has sent just a handful of emails — leaving many people suspicious that he’s been secretly using a private, personal email account to conduct his business, just like he did as attorney general in Oklahoma.
SPEAKING OF UNETHICAL: BuzzFeed learned that Pruitt actively recruited oil executives for top regional jobs at the EPA. While at the American Petroleum Institute’s Executive Committee and Board of Director’s Dinner — conveniently located at the Trump Hotel — Pruitt asked interested industry representatives to consider coming to work for the EPA, according to the same batch of emails that gave us the latest update on the Hart family saga.
SILENCED: Six EPA employees raised concerns about their boss’ spending habits. Now, those six EPA employees have found themselves promptly reassigned or unemployed. The U.S. Office of the Special Counsel is opening an investigation into Pruitt’s retaliatory habit — the 13th investigation into Pruitt’s activities as EPA administrator. With scandal after scandal, we’re all left wondering: how far is too far?
ZINKE UNDER REVIEW: Earlier this week, top House Democrats demanded an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s questionable dealings back home in Montana. As you may remember, last week we discussed Zinke’s connection to a real estate deal where oil company Halliburton received the rights to a microbrewery in exchange for smoothing over the deal. Well, on Thursday, Interior’s inspector general announced it will review Zinke’s involvement in the matter.
IN OTHER ZINKE NEWS: Zinke may have broken federal law this week. On Tuesday, Zinke tweeted out a picture of himself wearing a pair of socks embroidered with the Trumpian slogan “Make America Great Again.” According to experts, this could be a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal government employees from dabbling in political activity. He took down the photo soon after, but that original tweet serves as a reminder of Zinke’s poor judgement.
ACCOUNTABILITY CONTINUES ON LWCF: With still no sign of action in Congress to save the nation’s best parks program — the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — before it expires on September 30th, LCV’s “Our Lands, Our Voice” campaign is continuing to push for action. This week we launched digital ads on Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) and David Young (IA-03), who both supported massive LWCF funding cuts and have refused to sign onto a bipartisan reauthorization bill. And we’re spending $50,000 in Colorado and Montana to ensure constituents know that Senators Cory Gardner and Steve Daines turned their backs on our public lands by voting for rescission cuts to LWCF, hours after attending a press conference in support for the program.
IN THE FIELD: Local voices are questioning Daines and Gardner on their commitment to LWCF, too. In the Denver Post, small business owner Melanie Garr says, “I appreciate Gardner’s verbal support, but that support means nothing if he refuses to stand behind it with his votes.” And writing for the Montana Standard, vice-chair of Montana Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Jared Frasier asks, “So, which is it, Sen. Daines? You say one thing then vote the opposite way. Even my kids can tell you: That’s no way to earn someone’s trust.”
CONTINUED ATTACKS ON CLIMATE CHANGE: It wasn’t a great week for the global effort on climate change. Here’s a rundown of news on the climate change front:
SCRUBBING CLIMATE SCIENCE: The acting chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to remove the word “climate” from the agency’s mission statement. He’s the latest Trump official to try to scrub climate science from the public record.
OBSTRUCTION WATCH: A gaggle of conservatives inside the EPA tried to get a career official fired with the hopes that removing the employee would derail the 13-agency National Climate Assessment. This reveals just how far Pruitt and those loyal to his polluter-first agenda are willing to go to hide climate science from the world.
THE GOOD NEWS: By 2050, coal will account for only 11 percent of the world’s energy, Bloomberg reports, paving the way for newer, cleaner, greener energy sources — like solar and wind — to make inroads in the energy markets. This is important to combating the negative impacts of climate change and making sure we’re leaving a sustainable world for generations to come.
JULY 2 – 6 — Congress on recess
AUGUST — Scott Pruitt to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
SEPTEMBER 30 — Expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s best parks program