QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Destroying the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge through the Republican tax bill is reprehensible and fiscally irresponsible. This scheme is nothing more than an attempt to secure Senator Murkowski’s vote for the tax bill by attaching a long-sought polar payout to Alaska and Big Oil.”
“With an approval decision still to be made, hopefully the Nebraska Public Service Commission is paying close attention to this spill and what it means for the future. While unfortunately it’s too late to prevent this terrible spill in South Dakota, it’s not too late to protect Nebraska’s families, farms, and communities from paying the same price.”
– Eliot Bostar, Nebraska League of Conservation Voters Executive Director following the Keystone pipeline spill in South Dakota
“They wanted to give the public some assurance that the products on their shelf are safe, and when you put the chemical industry in charge that’s not going to happen.”
– Madeleine Foote, LCV legislative representative, on building opposition to industry champion Michael Dourson’s nomination to lead chemical safety at the EPA
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Associated Press: Alaska Lawmaker Sees Financial Boon in Refuge Drilling
New York Times Magazine: How the ‘Resistance’ Helped Democrats Dominate Virginia
E&E News (AL): Moore’s woes in Ala. an unexpected gift for climate hawks
Inside Climate News: At Stake in Arctic Refuge Drilling Vote: Money, Wilderness and a Way of Life
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:
The Register Citizen (CT): Rep. Brian Ohler honored by League of Conservation Voters
The News Herald (MI): Snyder needs to veto bill that will weaken Great Lakes protections
Go Upstate (SC): Town hall focuses on renewable energy
El Paso Times (TX): House of Representatives approves Castner Range conservation effort
CBS Las Vegas KXNT (NV): Nevada Groups Rally In Support Of Climate Accord
Mother Jones (WA): Will Washington State Pass the Nation’s First Carbon Tax?
ON THIN ICE: SENATE COMMITTEE PASSES BILL TO DRILL IN THE ARCTIC: This week, Senate Republican leadership pushed ahead with a plan to open the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling in order to secure Senator Murkowski’s vote for the tax bill. Murkowski’s bill to drill in the Arctic, which will be packaged with the tax plan, was voted out of committee on Wednesday. Opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling would do little to raise revenue and cover Republicans’ proposed tax cuts, and it would result in a long-sought polar payout to Alaska and Big Oil. Members of Congress who support the deal are undermining three decades of bipartisan opposition to Arctic Refuge drilling.
CRACKING THE ICE: LCV LAUNCHES HALF A MILLION DOLLAR AD BUY: Earlier this week, LCV announced a $550,000 TV ad campaign urging members of Congress to oppose Arctic Drilling. The ads, which are running in the districts of Reps. Erik Paulsen (R, MN-3), Bruce Poliquin (R, ME-2) and John Katko (R, NY-24) are part of LCV’s Our Lands, Our Vote Campaign, engaging people across the country to stand up for our public lands and waters.
KEYSTONE SPILLS IN SOUTH DAKOTA: Days before the Nebraska Public Service Commission is expected to decide whether to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, the current Keystone pipeline sprung a leak. A total of 210,000 gallons of oil spilled from a section in South Dakota, prompting a system shutdown.
LCV President Gene Karpinski: “Another catastrophic oil spill is an all-too-real reminder of why the Keystone XL pipeline has been all risk and no reward from the start. This dirty and dangerous export pipeline would run right through America’s heartland, threatening our water, our land, and our climate – all to pad the profits of a foreign oil company.”
WHITE HOUSE CLIMATE IGNORANCE: The Paris Climate Accords, as negotiated and signed last year, were built around the goal of preventing climate change from warming Earth’s temperature more than 2 degrees Celsius – the point at which the worst effects of global warming will manifest. At the UN Climate Conference in Bonn this week, George David Banks, President Trump’s special advisor on the climate, admitted that he didn’t know what was meant by the 2 degree target for the Paris Climate Accords.
This is not some obscure metric – it’s the single most important number in the fight against climate change, and the White House adviser on climate doesn’t even know what it is. Banks is dangerously unqualified for his position, but yet, he’s another in a long list of White House climate and environmental appointees who have no business anywhere near their positions.
THE REST OF THE COUNTRY IS STILL IN: While world leaders met in Germany at the UN Climate Conference, LCV’s state partners across the country declared their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. Communities in Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia all stood up and said that they’re still in even as Donald Trump and his administration fail to lead on climate.
SATURDAY READ: After a two-year plateau, carbon emissions jumped significantly in 2017. Read more about the pause, the jump, and what this means for the fight against global warming here.
SUNDAY READ: Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Jerry Brown co-authored an op-ed in the New York Times this week outlining how other leaders in the U.S. are combatting climate change, despite Trump’s dangerous policy failures.
SHRINKING NATIONAL MONUMENTS: In a hearing in the Utah State Legislature this week, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch’s staff revealed that President Trump plans to shrink the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by almost half and Bears Ears National Monument by more than two-thirds. Trump’s action would jeopardize these national treasures, putting them at risk of industry exploitation and restricting the government’s ability to protect them from environmental harm. This would be the first time in history that a president shrank an existing national monument and would set a dangerous precedent, exposing our most sacred places to political gamesmanship and industry abuse.
BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO TOXIC NOMINEE DOURSON: On Wednesday, Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, both Republicans from North Carolina, announced their opposition to Michael Dourson, Trump’s nominee to head the office of chemical safety at the EPA. Dourson’s conflicts of interest are many and his career representing the very industry he’s being tapped to regulate disqualify him from this critical position. The League of Conservation Voters has long opposed his nomination, and this new wave of bipartisan opposition creates a major obstacle to his confirmation.
HARTNETT WHITE ALSO IN TROUBLE: Kathleen Hartnett White, the White House’s selection to chair the Council on Environmental Quality, is at risk of not being confirmed by midwestern republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. As a climate denier and friend of polluters, she is unquestionably unqualified for this position, and LCV calls on all senators to oppose her confirmation.
SHADY SCOTT’S PLANE PROBLEM: You might think that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt would be more mindful of his travel after being under scrutiny for using taxpayer resources to fly home to Oklahoma and charging taxpayers a pretty penny so that he could fly private — but you’d be wrong. Late last week, Politico reported that Pruitt was seen flying first class from D.C. to Detroit. When asked, the EPA refused to give any details about the trip. Furthermore, the agency is still not publicizing Pruitt’s schedule, despite promising to do so back in September. In addition to selling out the EPA to industry executives and polluters and risking the health and safety of our communities, Pruitt continues to run the EPA with little regard for ethical standards that discourage the use of taxpayer resources for personal comfort.
DANGEROUS PESTICIDE DELAYS: The Trump administration is requesting a two year delay on a deadline to determine whether or not several widely-used pesticides are environmentally harmful. This delay follows several letters from Dow Chemical and other companies, which claim that EPA studies were flawed. But that’s not all – Dow gave $1 million to Trump’s inaugural fund in January. The Trump administration knows that these chemicals are dangerous, but they’d rather help their industry buddies make more money than do the right thing for the health of our communities.
EPA EXODUS: A new investigation by WTTW, the Chicago area’s PBS station, found that 61 EPA staff have left the Chicago office in 2017 without any replacements. That makes up 6 percent of the office’s staff and more than 1,000 years of cumulative experience. When interviewed, staff members said that Scott Pruitt’s failed leadership at the EPA was the most significant reason for their departure and that massive proposed budget cuts and ineffective management had made their work incredibly difficult. In its history, the EPA has done crucial and effective work all across the country, but Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump are single-handedly dismantling the agency and undermining its work.
ZINKE’S FLIGHTGATE: Remember Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s trip on a plane owned by oil and gas executives? Or his charter flight to the Virgin Islands, where he mixed official business with a fundraiser for the local GOP? Interior’s Inspector General has been looking into Zinke’s ethics controversies, but the investigation has stalled due to “absent or incomplete documentation for several pertinent trips.” According to a Washington Post report, Interior officials haven’t been able to distinguish between Zinke’s personal, political and official travel.
“SUE-AND-SETTLE” BLOWBACK: Last month, Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA would no longer settle lawsuits with environmental groups by agreeing to consider regulatory action. This week, 57 former EPA attorneys who served in non-political positions sent a letter to Scott Pruitt, accusing him of deliberately misrepresenting legal settlement practices at the EPA and of eliminating a necessary avenue through which citizens and advocacy groups play a role in EPA policymaking. As the letter states, not only is Pruitt misinforming the public about the regulatory process at EPA, but he is also “attempting to give regulated parties a special and powerful seat at the table with no corresponding role for other members of the public.”
A NEW DAY IN NEW JERSEY: On Monday, the New Jersey LCV EF released a new report entitled Environmental Agenda ’18: New Jersey’s Conservation Roadmap. The report outlines what newly-elected Governor Phil Murphy and the Democratic legislature can do to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050, protect clean drinking water sources in the Highlands and Pinelands, address polluted storm-water runoff, reduce flooding, and preserve open spaces. Murphy won his race on the strength of his environmental agenda, and the League of Conservation Voters is excited to stand with him as he builds a new cleaner and healthier future for New Jersey.
December 8: Expiration of government funding
December 12: Alabama special Senate election