QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“The internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans is no laughing matter, @SecretaryZinke. What you thought was a clever response to @RepHanabusa was flippant & juvenile.”
— Senator Mazie Hirono in response to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s ignorant remarks during testimony to the House Committee on Natural Resources
“Climate change is one of the most critical threats facing our nation and world, and the Secretary of State has a huge responsibility to make sure it is addressed by the global community. With a history of questioning the science of climate change, a close relationship with the polluter Koch brothers and lifetime LCV score of 4 percent, Mike Pompeo has no business becoming the next Secretary of State.”
— LCV SVP of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld in response to Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be secretary of state
“Offshore drilling is a really, really dumb idea. That’s my professional comment.”
— Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York telling us how he really feels about the Trump administration’s plan to drill for oil in our oceans
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Montana Public Radio: League of Conservation Voters Ad Targets Rep. Gianforte
E&E News: Riders remain in play as deadline looms
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:
Cape Cod Times (MA): Keating scores 100% as environmental ally
Missoulian (MT): Offer support for Clean Power Plan
New Jersey Globe (NJ): New Jersey Reacts to Governor Phil Murphy’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget
Portland Press Herald (ME): Climate policy expert and Maine native prefers quiet of woods, but now makes plenty of noise
Public News Service (CO): Latino Advocacy Day to Spotlight Immigration, Environmental Justice
Green Bay Press Gazette (WI): Brown County Supervisor Staush Gruszynski of Green Bay to seek Eric Genrich’s Assembly seat
SIREN — CLIMATE DENIER TAKES TOP POST AT STATE DEPT: Rex Tillerson is out, Mike Pompeo is in. And multiple news outlets confirm that this is bad news for climate change. Pompeo, a climate skeptic with deep ties to the polluter Koch brothers, has repeatedly doubted the science behind climate change, both as a member of Congress as well as when serving as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. As the nation’s chief diplomat, Pompeo will represent us at climate summits and treaty negotiations — a very concerning prospect if he continues to ignore the serious threat that climate change poses to our national security.
SAY WHAT?: Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke headed to the Hill this week to defend the Trump administration’s draconian budget request. While he could have used the hearings to finally explain his political posturing around Florida offshore drilling or why oil and coal executives drove the decision to shrink Bears Ears National Monument, he instead blamed people with disabilities, elderly people, fourth-graders and veterans for raises in park fees, claimed the administration cut funding for renewable energy projects because wind turbines kill birds, and split hairs over whether or not he took a private jet because the planes he travelled on had propellers.
“I THINK IT’S STILL OHAYO GOZAIMASU”: Hawaii’s Representative Colleen Hanabusa corrected Zinke after he ignorantly responded to her question about grants for preserving the history of Japanese-American confinement with “Konnichiwa.” Asian Americans Advancing Justice has demanded he apologize for his inappropriate and insensitive remark.
MISSING — SPENDY SCOTT’S TRAVEL DOCS: Remember when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to fly first-class around the country? We do, and we’re guessing that the House Oversight Committee does too. The committee gave the EPA until March 6th to produce documents detailing Pruitt’s luxurious travel. Surprise, surprise — they blew the deadline. It’s almost as if the EPA has something to hide…
OH YEAH, THEY DO: Remember Pruitt’s absolutely necessary sound-proof booth? The EPA “accidentally” overspent by $18,000 on that – bringing the price tag to a whopping $43,000. This is just another example of our tax dollars going to waste so these greedy Trump cronies can live large.
OIL LOBBYIST? YOU’RE HIRED! Almost half of the political appointees at the EPA are either lobbyists or former industry practitioners, and ThinkProgress has reported that the EPA consistently files waivers to bypass or blatantly ignores the ethics codes that are intended to prevent conflicts of interest for federal employees. The result: those with the closest ties to the oil and gas industry now occupy key positions at the country’s most important environmental watchdog. This report helps us make concrete what we already knew: Trump and Pruitt have opened the EPA’s doors to their polluter friends who want to dismantle the agency and sell out our environment to enhance their own fortunes.
RED TEAM BLUE TEAM NO MORE: Pruitt wanted to publicly stage a climate change “debate,” allowing deniers to openly challenge climate experts. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly nixed this disaster-in-waiting before Pruitt made it a reality. Kelly’s reasoning: The event would become an “unnecessary distraction from the steps the administration has taken to slash environmental regulations.” Despite Kelly’s troublesome motivation to avoid public spectacle while the administration sells out the environment to their oil and gas buddies, at least we won’t have to endure Pruitt’s phony debate over well-established scientific fact.
RESEARCH METHODS 101: HuffPost reported that top Department of the Interior officials are citing discredited blogs and former coal executives to build a case against climate change, per emails acquired through FOIA. It appears that these officials attempted to dig up evidence that contradicted the consensus science behind climate change. Of course, it comes as no surprise that this administration has placed their trust in industry rather than science.
BUT IS ANYONE SURPRISED? Career scientists within the administration are preparing to release the annual U.S. Climate Assessment — and approval from the country’s top independent scientific advisory body suggests that the report will confirm the brutal reality of climate change and its impact on our families and communities. Nevertheless, as top political appointees of the Trump administration have shown, they will go to any length to dispute the science of climate change. How will they square this contradiction?
RIDER WATCH: A government funding deadline on March 23rd is looming, and Congressional Republicans are trying to cram as much as possible into a final bill. A number of the expected riders are incredibly environmentally damaging — which is why we’ve joined the Clean Budget Coalition and are pushing for a spending bill free of harmful riders. We’re committed to fighting to retain critical safeguards for drinking water, protect our national forests, and protect policymakers’ ability to use the Social Cost of Carbon to make climate-smart decisions. Keep your eyes on the appropriations process ahead of the March 23 expiration of government funding.
UPDATE FROM THE RESISTANCE: As Trump and Zinke prepare to drill for oil off our coasts, state governments led by both parties are vowing to make it very difficult. How do states plan to fight back? Some states have considered blocking any infrastructure project that requires the use of state-controlled waters; others have filed lawsuits against Zinke and the Interior Department. It’s reassuring to see states fight back against a move that threatens the air and water that support our communities.
REST IN PEACE: Science extraordinaire and bold climate advocate Stephen Hawking passed away on Tuesday. In memorial, Fortune released a stellar piece on Hawking and his predictions for the end of the world. Definitely worth a read — especially for those in Washington who seem still unconcerned about the reality of climate change.
IF YOU’RE DRIVING THROUGH MONTANA: Ryan Zinke isn’t the only Montanan betraying his state’s commitment to public lands. Representative Greg Gianforte, his infamous successor in the House of Representatives, is pushing several radical assaults on public lands in Montana and across the country, including an attack on the Antiquities Act that would empower presidents to abolish national monuments. This week we pushed back by launching a six-figure ad campaign to raise awareness about Gianforte’s disgraceful voting record. Our ad, available here, will run on Internet radio and video as well as the mapping app Waze, so visitors to the state’s many public lands will learn about how Gianforte is threatening their future.
AND IF MONTANA IS HOME: According to a new poll released by the University of Montana, people in the state generally disapprove of Zinke’s recommendations to reduce the size of national monuments — 62 percent of those polled voiced disapproval of these reductions.
QUICK READ: If ten minutes is all you can spare, check out this inspired piece from LCV’s Olivia Drummond, who has become an environmentalist by way of politics. This Georgia native got her start in state politics, learning from the ever-determined Stacey Abrams, and Olivia channeled that determination at LCV. Her next stop? An exciting new position at EMILY’s List. We’ll certainly miss her talents around LCV.
IN HER WORDS: As Olivia puts it: “Ultimately, at LCV, I have been able to create my own definition of what it means to be an environmentalist. Now, I define an environmentalist as a person who not only cares about conservation, but the individuals and spaces that have been impacted most. I’m Olivia Drummond, and I’m an environmentalist.”
March 20 – Primary day in Illinois, where LCV Action Fund has endorsed congressional candidates Brendan Kelly (IL-12) and Erik Jones (IL-13)
March 23 – Deadline for government funding
April 1 – Deadline for EPA to issue their determination on clean car standards
April 25 – EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee