QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Scott Pruitt failed to justify his EPA’s many decisions to sell out our future to polluters, exposing once again that the Trump administration is a blatant front for industry.”
— Sara Chieffo, LCV Vice President for Government Affairs on Pruitt’s appearance in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
“Instead of helping the people most impacted by the climate crisis, Trump has jeopardized the lives of Dreamers, immigrants and refugees. And his administration has ignored thousands of families attempting to put their lives back together in Puerto Rico, who alongside Houston and Florida experienced the worst of climate change – proving that he has no interest in standing up for us.”
— LCV’s Chispa National Director Ernesto Vargas ahead of Trump’s State of the Union
LCV IN THE NEWS:
InsideClimate News: Trump’s Top Environment Pick, a Fossil Fuels Evangelist, May Be in Trouble
Politico Pro: Pruitt shrugs off anti-Trump attack at fiery hearing
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:
Great Lakes Now (WI): What Water? Wisconsin Governor’s State of the State
Lansing State Journal (MI): Wozniak: Congressman Bishop fails to protect public health and environment
Sunshine State News (FL): Charlie Crist Continues His Fight Against Offshore Drilling
Seattle Pi (WA): Inslee rejects big oil-by-rail terminal along Columbia River
NM Political Report (NM): PNM, enviro groups hammer out funding for ‘abandoned’ coal plant
STATE OF POLLUTION: On Tuesday evening, President Trump delivered an infuriating State of the Union address — declaring himself the savior of the coal industry. NPR’s Jeff Brady provided a timely fact check, clarifying that there never was a so-called war on coal: “Coal has fallen on hard times primarily because it is having trouble competing against cheaper natural gas and renewable energy for generating electricity.” This administration’s foot-dragging on climate change was on clear display in the speech, failing to mention advancements in clean energy science or the importance of protecting clean air and water.
OUR RESPONSE: LCV President Gene Karpinski had some strong words in response: “This administration has ignored the outcry of opposition from millions of people across the country who want a president who puts our health and our communities first.” LCV remains fully committed to fighting for a safer environment and cleaner future — despite the challenge this administration poses.
TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL: A surprise report, unearthed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in his questioning of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in the Senate Environment and Public Works hearing this week, revealed that in February of 2016, Pruitt confessed on a conservative radio show that he believed “Donald Trump in the White House would be…abusive to the Constitution….” He went on to say that Trump “would use a blunt instrument” while Obama “at least tries to nuance his unlawfulness” – effectively admitting the Trump administration would be indifferent to the law.
WORTH NOTING: It was a poor showing all around for Pruitt at the Senate hearing on Tuesday. He was dodgy with the senators, refusing to answer straightforward questions on environmental justice from Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and declining to answer Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) about his alleged commitment to fighting lead poisoning. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) criticized Pruitt’s management of the EPA so far — highlighting how the agency’s slashing of environmental protections in the past year have endangered our families and communities.
FACEPALM: In a bizarre interview with Piers Morgan at the beginning of the week, Trump again displayed stunning ignorance on the subject of climate change:
KEY QUOTE: “There is a cooling and there is a heating, and I mean, look—it used to not be climate change. It used to be global warming. Right? . . . That wasn’t working too well, because it was getting too cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so O.K., they’re at a record level.”
WHY IT MATTERS: Even though the overwhelming majority of scientists are in agreement that climate change is a present and tangible danger, a climate-denying president offers a platform for skeptics to peddle their nonsense. In fact, in response to Trump’s comments some of our country’s top scientists offered to educate Trump on the realities of climate change and why everything he said was wrong — we highly suggest he take them up on the offer.
MURKY PROCESS, MURKY WATER: On Wednesday Pruitt announced that the EPA would delay for two years the implementation of the Clean Water Rule, which protects the drinking water of 1 in 3 people living in this country. This administration has been trying to kill these critical safeguards since day one.
OUR TAKE: Legislative Representative Madeleine Foote released the following statement: “After a hurried review and a comment period purposefully hidden from the public during the rush of the holiday season, Scott Pruitt’s delay of the Clean Water Rule is another galling attack on the clean water our families and communities depend on. Pruitt’s actions demonstrate just how scared the Trump administration is that these commonsense safeguards would go into effect and actually disprove their bogus apocalyptic claims. The administration’s constant assault on our waterways is outrageous and we will continue to defend our right to clean, safe drinking water for all communities.”
BUT PRUITT DIDN’T STOP THERE: According to Politico, the “EPA will ask the National Marine Fisheries Service to reconsider its decision that the controversial pesticide chlorpyrifos jeopardizes endangered salmon.” NMFS had given the EPA one year to take steps that would protect salmon and the Orca whales that eat them from the dangerous agricultural pesticide. This continues Pruitt’s trend of trying to reverse or block efforts to ban and limit the use of hazardous chlorpyrifos.
LESS MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS: The Washington Post broke that the White House is again seeking a huge (72 percent) reduction in the Department of Energy’s funding for clean energy research. The Post notes that this proposal is a clear demonstration of this administration’s priorities: mainly, a preference for “beautiful clean coal.” News of these proposed deep cuts is completely out of step with the trends of the energy market, where clean energy is the cheapest form of new energy in most parts of the country. Not to mention, it is completely out of step with the majority of people who support clean energy.
NEW JERSEY LEADING THE PACK: Newly-inaugurated Governor Phil Murphy is already making impressive progress to establish New Jersey as leading the charge on preventing climate change. On Monday, Murphy directed his state’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities to re-enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — “a cap-and-trade program of nine New England and mid-Atlantic states whose aim is to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.” New Jersey is the latest state to push back on Trump’s attempt to destroy our environment. Murphy one-upped his own major announcement by then restarting New Jersey’s plan for offshore wind with an ambitious commitment to 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. And on Thursday he called for a ban on fracking in the Delaware River watershed.
DISSENT IS PATRIOTIC: Quartz put together a thoughtful piece on how cities and states have resisted a corrupt and dangerous federal agenda over the last year. It notes that sixteen governors have pledged their support for the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and 391 mayors representing nearly 70 million of us have committed to clean energy and environmental justice.
TAKEAWAY: It’s heartening that in the face of this administration’s insistence on fighting for their industry cronies, there are still elected officials fighting back in favor of a cleaner, better future for the rest of us.
SIREN: William Ruckelshaus, appointed by President Nixon as the first administrator of the EPA, offered sharp criticism of Pruitt’s tenure. “It’s a threat to the country,” Ruckelshaus declared, decrying Pruitt’s denial of climate science and ideologically dogmatic approach to running the EPA. He also raised concerns about rebuilding the credibility of the agency following Pruitt’s leadership — suggesting that it may take decades to get the EPA back to the forefront of environmental stewardship.
ECHO: The former Bush EPA chief suggests that the consequences of widespread rollback of environmental protections could have potentially fatal effects. In a disturbingly-titled Vox article, Pruitt’s impact at the EPA is chronicled in impressive detail — from his deregulation of hazardous chemicals to his paranoiac personal security measures.
CONCLUSION: It couldn’t be more clear: Pruitt is dismantling the EPA from the inside and delivering on favors for his buddies in the coal, oil, gas, and chemical industries at the expense of our health and future.
February 9 – The government faces yet another funding deadline