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QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Washington have prime opportunities next week to weigh in and influence the clean energy future of the states they call home while also signaling to the polluter-aligned Congress and administration that favoring the fossil fuel industry’s profits over our families has consequences.”
— LCV President Gene Karpinski in a Medium post previewing opportunities voters have to make progress on climate change in next week’s local elections
“There’s been bipartisan opposition to selling out our most iconic wildlife refuge for over 30 years, but now Republican leadership is trying to secure Senator Murkowski’s vote for their terrible tax plan by throwing in a polar payout to Alaska and Big Oil. If the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee actually wants to raise revenue, they could start by ending loopholes for mining companies or cutting back on the $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies fossil fuels receive every year.”
— LCV Deputy Legislative Director Alex Taurel calling on Congress to oppose a plan to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling as part of the Republican tax bill
“[If] Eid is confirmed to serve a lifetime appointment on the federal bench, it could prove disastrous for environmental laws and regulations.”
— LCV President Gene Karpinski, in a letter opposing the nomination of Judge Allison Eid to the Tenth Circuit Appeals Court
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: League of Conservation Voters boosts Tammy Baldwin with ad on Great Lakes
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 Christian Science Monitor (NV): Las Vegas shines as a model for solar power
NJ Spotlight (NJ): Governor’s race 2017 could lead to a greener New Jersey
Boise Weekly (ID): Conservation Voters for Idaho Makes Endorsements in Boise Council Election
Alaska Public Media (AK): Gov. Walker announces new climate change task force
POLAR PAYOUT: The same day the House released their disastrous tax bill, the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee held a hearing on the Republicans’ plan to throw in a huge giveaway to Senator Lisa Murkowski and Big Oil – drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge-to the tax package. Democrats on the committee sounded the alarm on this polar payout, with Senator Maria Cantwell saying it’s “ludicrous” that the GOP thinks they can raise taxes and balloon the deficit, but open up a wildlife refuge to drilling to make everything add up. The committee is expected to vote on drilling legislation as soon as next week – which can pass the Senate with only 51 votes.
PAGING GOP – NO ONE WANTS ARCTIC REFUGE OIL: A Bloomberg report broke down the numbers, finding that the $1 billion Congress is hoping to raise through Arctic Refuge drilling is a “fantasy.” According to the report, previous lease sales suggest revenue would be just $145.5 million over a decade, and “it’s not clear how many energy companies would actually pursue the opportunity.”
MORE INVESTIGATIONS INTO WHITEFISH CONTRACT: The FBI opened an investigation into the Whitefish Energy contract to rebuild Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure, which Puerto Rican authorities canceled this week amid brewing ethical controversy. Whitefish Energy – a two-person company at the time of the storm – is based in Secretary Zinke’s hometown, and its leadership has personal ties to the secretary.
Meanwhile, Republicans on the Homeland Security committee inexplicably canceled a scheduled hearing on the Puerto Rican recovery, and the UN strongly criticized the federal government’s management of the crisis, particularly in comparison to the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria on the mainland.
OPPOSE EID’S NOMINATION: On Monday, LCV President Gene Karpinski sent a letter to the Senate opposing the nomination of Judge Allison Eid for the Tenth Circuit Appeals Court. She has weakened the government’s ability to enact environmental legislation, sided with oil companies to help them bypass public hearings before drilling, and undermined fair electoral representation. In an unchecked Trump presidency, the courts are incredibly important to ensuring equity and fairness in the law. Read the letter here.
HE SAID WHAT NOW? Earlier this week at an Axios/NBC event in Washington, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry made the eyebrow-raising claim that fossil fuels can prevent sexual assault in Africa. Axios’ Amy Harder points out that his remarks caused a stir given that, while bringing light to otherwise dark places can increase safety in a number of ways, there’s no reason that polluting fossil fuels are the best or only solution. From Harder: “The Trump administration has consistently prioritized fossil fuels over renewables and is run by a president who has faced several allegations of sexual harassment, so connecting the two did not sit well with many people.” But perhaps even more problematic is that Perry’s argument isn’t just too narrow in focusing on fossil fuels– it also seems to deflect blame away from those committing assault in the first place.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ADMITS HEALTH BENEFITS OF CLIMATE ACTION: A Trump administration report on the Clean Power Plan found that it would prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths by 2030, yet the administration is still working to repeal this commonsense policy. This proves that the Trump administration knows gutting the Clean Power Plan will harm children and families, but they are still willing to sell out our communities’ health to put their industry buddies first.
WORTH A READ: William Buzbee, a law professor at Georgetown University, published an op-ed this week in which he argues that the Trump administration’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan is illegal.
PRUITT PURGES “INDEPENDENT” VOICES: This week, Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA would prevent scientists who receive EPA grants from serving on EPA science advisory boards, saying that it would avoid “conflicts of interest.” In reality, this move eliminates crucial independent voices, allows Trump allies to appoint industry voices to the board, and tilts the EPA even further away from the scientifically-focused agency that it should be. A list of possible replacements obtained by the Washington Post includes corporate polluters and people who work in industries that the EPA is supposed to regulate. Pruitt isn’t eliminating conflicts of interest — he’s encouraging them.
WORSENING CLIMATE CRISIS: Three new reports on climate change were released this week, highlighting devastating consequences of inaction. CO2 concentration is growing at a record pace, the winter has shrunk by more than a month, and the worsening of climate disasters may be irreversible. In addition, a new study in The Lancet found that climate change is worsening public health for hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to do nothing to combat climate change, and their reckless disregard for established science in favor of conspiracy theories puts us all in danger.
WORTH A READ: Rex Zedalis, one of Scott Pruitt’s professors in law school, published an op-ed expressing his regret for failing to instill in Pruitt a respect for law as not simply a tool for “implementing a political ideology, regardless the facts.”
BRIDENSTINE’S CLIMATE DODGING: On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee held a confirmation hearing for Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) nomination to head NASA. Bridenstine is a long-time climate denier who is clearly unfit to lead a non-partisan, science-based agency. In his hearing, Bridenstine said that he believes that human activity affects the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but that scientists are “just scratching the surface” on the science of climate change. NASA deserves a leader who understands science – and Bridenstine clearly doesn’t.
CONSPIRACY THEORIST IN THE WHITE HOUSE: Kathleen Hartnett White, President Trump’s nominee to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, believes that climate change policy is a cover for “all-powerful government” created by “global elites” to end democracy. CNN reported this week that Hartnett White has a long history of espousing conspiracy theories and extreme right-wing views on radio programs and in public speeches, absurdly comparing climate change regulation to centralized economies under Stalin and Hitler. Not only is Hartnett White a climate change denier, but she’s also on the fringes of American politics and should have no place in the White House.
JOHN OLIVER SOUNDS OFF: On Sunday, John Oliver devoted a big chunk of his show Last Week Tonight to the National Flood Insurance Program. The NFIP provides federally-subsidized flood insurance to homeowners in flood-prone areas, which sounds like a good idea but instead results in huge costs for the government, huge profits for insurance companies, and not enough protection for people. As flooding worsens due to climate change, it’s imperative that we solve this problem.
November 7 — Election Day
November 7 — The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing entitled “Examining Challenges in Puerto Rico’s Recovery and the Role of the Financial Oversight and Management Board.” The Committee will also hold a hearing on harmful oil and gas drilling legislation.
November 8 — The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Kathleen Hartnett White to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Andrew Wheeler to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a markup on nine bills.
November 28-29–EPA Public Hearing on Clean Power Plan Repeal