QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“We knew Scott Pruitt was in bed with industry polluters, but literally staying at their house is another level. Add this to the millions of reasons he’s unfit to lead the agency charged with protecting our health and environment. It’s time for Pruitt to go.”
— LCV VP of Government Affairs Sara Chieffo, responding to reports that Scott Pruitt rented his prime Capitol Hill apartment from a lobbyist “power couple” at a special rate
“Mr. Pruitt’s goal is simple: No studies, no data, no rules. No climate science, for instance, means no climate policy.”
“Fighting for clean energy is not new, but at this critical time this campaign represents an ambitious new approach for our family of organizations by unleashing local campaigns across the country that collectively add up to a significant shift to a clean energy economy.”
— LCV President Gene Karpinski announcing LCV’s nationwide “Clean Energy for All” campaign
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Arizona Republic: A new political group is spending at least $100K on SRP’s board races
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:
Annapolis Patch (MD): Conservation Group Endorses Anne Arundel County Candidates
Michigan Radio (MI): Over 17,000 households could face water shutoffs in Detroit
Vermont Biz (VT): Coalition calls on House to act on Senate-passed clean water bill
Missoula Current (MT): Montana Voices: For the sake of untrammeled land
AN ABSENCE OF FEDERAL LEADERSHIP WON’T STOP US: Building on a string of clean energy policy wins in states, we are partnering with our state affiliates in the Conservation Voter Movement for a new “Clean Energy for All” campaign. The campaign doubles down on state and local progress for clean energy in an effort to move the country towards a goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, and will do so through ballot initiatives, grassroots organizing, securing commitments from candidates, pushing for smart investments and lobbying decision-makers. Read more about the campaign from Reuters, check out our fact sheet, and join us at CleanEnergyForAll.org.
A “GIFT TO POLLUTERS”: The EPA will likely ease vehicle emission standards for 2022 through 2025 ahead of an April 1st deadline — a change long lobbied for by the auto industry. By weakening federal emission standards, Pruitt is allowing automakers to continue producing cars that pollute our communities. However, California Governor Jerry Brown has signaled that his state will not go along with the change, calling this decision a “gift to polluters.” Luckily, California — which holds a waiver allowing them to set their own emission standards — is committed to protecting our environment from unnecessary pollution.
OUR TAKE: LCV Board Chair and former EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner, who helped create these standards, had this to say: “Rolling back the clean car standards simply does not make sense. These safeguards are already protecting our health and environment, saving consumers money at the gas pump, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. In other words, they are working exactly as they were designed. This roll back is just another thinly veiled attempt by Scott Pruitt to protect industry while putting our health and environment at risk.”
PRUITT’S TERRIBLE WEEK: On Wednesday, LCV launched the Boot Pruitt campaign alongside a handful of allied organizations — a concerted effort to remove the dangerous and destructive leader from the EPA. We made our intentions clear by projecting them on the EPA’s headquarters, and we will continue to highlight Pruitt’s corrupt practices and reckless policy agenda. Interested? Join us to help reclaim our environment and our well-being from the hands of a crooked and incapable Scott Pruitt!
AND THERE’S MORE: Our projection calling out Pruitt’s ethical failures wasn’t the only unwelcome story of Pruitt’s week. ABC revealed that Pruitt got a special deal to live in a luxury condo owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist — a situation that incites questions as to whether the arrangement is an improper gift that violates ethics rules. In a story that gets more bizarre by the hour, we’ve also learned he worked directly with an energy lobbyist to secure the rental agreement and that his security detail broke down the building door after they failed to reach Pruitt (turns out he was napping). The EPA has repeatedly refused to respond to requests for comment.
EVEN MORE: Huffington Post obtained a leaked memo that showed that EPA employees were given guidance for downplaying climate change. This comes after Pruitt and the EPA proposed restricting the science available for environmental policy-making — a rule that would scrap longstanding studies on the dangers of air pollution and pesticides. The change would weaken the scientific standing of existing protections against pollution and environmental degradation, thus making it easier for the EPA to roll back the regulations. This is the latest in Pruitt’s all-out assault on science .
SPEAKING OF UNETHICAL: Pruitt has shown he’ll do anything for a quick buck. This week, he signed a research agreement with an Israeli company he met with at the request of GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. This isn’t the first time Pruitt has met with money-movers; not too long ago, he met with a coal executive who raised over a $1 million for the Trump campaign. Immoral behavior runs rampant in this administration — and we’re sure we’ve only scratched the surface.
EVERYTHING IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS: Remember all the way back to January when Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke suddenly announced that Florida would be exempt from the administration’s offshore drilling plan? It turns out the decision wasn’t that spontaneous after all. After scrutinizing over a thousand documents, Politico broke this week that the Florida exemption was part of an intentional effort to frame Governor Rick Scott as a political savior whose last-minute negotiating prowess would spare his state from a damaging drilling initiative. The announcement was meticulously staged, too — a hastily thrown-together press conference, excluded from all public schedules, and only an hour of advanced warning.
THE STANDOUT POINT: “The records reaffirm the perception at the time that the Trump administration’s decision to reverse course and remove Florida from the list was carefully choreographed to give Scott a political win in his widely expected challenge this year to unseat Nelson.”
“EXPOSED IN ALL ITS CYNICISM”: The Washington Post editorial board called out Zinke’s political ploy on Thursday, writing that “Mr. Zinke’s behavior suggests that major government policy will be made on his whim, according to whether petitioners have ingratiated themselves with the Trump administration or which political ally requires a favor.”
ZINKE: “DIVERSITY ISN’T IMPORTANT”: CNN discovered that Zinke has repeatedly said to his employees: “I don’t care about diversity.” This blasé comment follows a year during which Zinke reassigned 15 people of color serving in senior executive roles and the department struggled to retain a diverse workforce across the board. This perpetuation of racial inequities is inexcusable, and we’re frustrated to see a top leader in the federal government herald such antiquated and destructive beliefs.
ON DECK: Trump has tapped William McIntosh, former Ford executive in charge of environmental compliance, to take a top role at the EPA. This may be problematic, seeing as McIntosh oversaw a massive industrial spill that polluted groundwater with carcinogenic chemicals. Another problem: McIntosh spent seven years slashing environmental protections at Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. With his regulation-gutting instincts, McIntosh fits right in with the Trump administration — exactly what our families and communities do not need at the EPA.
WELL THAT CAN’T BE GOOD: According to a study coming out of the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, extreme weather events have occurred more frequently worldwide over the past four decades. From extreme heat to spring nor’easters, weather volatility — which scientists mostly agree is a direct result of man-made climate change — is a threat we are seeing right now. We have to mitigate these effects quickly by investing in infrastructure and learning how to adapt through more violent weather patterns.
FEEL-GOOD STORY: The NHL has set its sights on an ambitious goal: to save the planet. Ice is essential to the game — and the average length of the outdoor skating season is rapidly shrinking due to global warming. The league is taking tangible steps like reducing energy consumption, CO2 emissions, and waste as well as encouraging fans to practice sustainability in their daily lives.
WEEKEND READ: Buckle your seatbelts — we’ve got a long piece for you this week. The New Yorker ran a deep-dive titled “Scott Pruitt’s Dirty Politics,” chronicling Pruitt’s twisted path into the pocket of the fossil fuels industry and how he is angling to become U.S. attorney general. Whether fascinated or frustrated with the politics in Washington, this piece is worth a read.
April 1 – Regulatory deadline for EPA to issue their determination on clean car standards
April 10 – Congress back in session