THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – July 13, 2018

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“‘He is pretty consistently anti-environment on every front,’ Center for Biological Diversity senior counsel Bill Snape, a law professor at American University, told BuzzFeed News. ‘I call him Lord Voldemort,’ said Professor Snape.”

–A priceless quote from an analysis of Brett Kavanaugh’s environmental stances needs no explanation

“A wave of cheers that went on down the cubicles as people heard.”

–The reaction at the Chicago EPA office when they heard of Pruitt’s resignation

“Scott’s environmental passion is more like an election-year conversion.”

— The Sun Sentinel editorial board, calling out Florida governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott for deceiving voters about his environmental record as the state faces a toxic algae crisis

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

ThinkProgress: New Trump Supreme Court pick gives environmental groups a lot to fear as consensus strategy emerges

City Pages: With seat in jeopardy, Erik Paulsen suddenly becomes an environmentalist

Bloomberg: Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh Could Reinterpret Environmental Law

Hearst TV: Andrew Wheeler Takes Over As EPA Administrator

The Hill: Gene Karpinski & Fred Krupp: A conservation success is on the line

 

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:

Miami Herald (FL): Florida’s politicians use slimy algae to muddy each other

News 4 (FL): Gov. Scott declares emergency over algae outbreaks along coasts

MLive (MI): Lawmakers and activists call for stronger response to PFAS in Michigan

E&E (CO): Green group endorses Polis for Colo. governor

Las Vegas Sun (NV): Letter: Tell Lawmakers How You Feel

 

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SCOTUS WATCH: With the balance of the Supreme Court in jeopardy, here are some key reasons why we’re opposed to Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy:

 

  • HANDICAPPING THE EPA: Kavanaugh believes the EPA doesn’t have a mandate to tackle environmental problems beyond a narrowly-defined scope. He voted to limit the EPA’s authority in a number of high-profile cases, preventing progress on climate change and air pollution.
  • CASES IN THE PIPELINE: There are going to be a handful of extremely important environmental cases working their way up to the Supreme Court in the next few sessions — and we need a justice who will side with the environment over polluting special interests.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE (NO BIG DEAL): Almost a year ago, Kavanaugh wrote that “climate change is not a blank check for the President” as he struck down important elements of President Obama’s plan to limit potent greenhouse gas refrigerants called HFCs. He clearly cares more about polluting industries than  the communities who are endangered by a rapidly changing climate.
  • WE MADE A LIST: Want to know more about Kavanaugh’s problematic approach to environmental protections? We compiled a few of the most troubling indicators from his time on the D.C. Circuit. Spoiler alert: Trump has put forth a judge who has sided with the wealthy and powerful over the public interest time and again.  

 

THE STAKES: If the Senate confirms this anti-environment, anti-civil rights, radical nominee, our most basic health and environmental protections and our very right to vote could be under siege for an entire generation. Kavanaugh’s record shows he will side with the wealthy and powerful over the public interest —  consistently coming down on the side of Big Polluters instead of protecting clean water and clean air for all.

MORE TO COME: We simply cannot allow Kavanaugh a seat on the highest court in the land. We’ll be continuing to raise alarm about his environmental record in the coming weeks, and we’re already mobilizing our members to contact their senators urging them to vote NO on Kavanaugh’s nomination in order to protect our basic health and environmental protections.

HEY HEY HEY, GOODBYE! Unless you spent Fourth of July under a rock, you’ve  heard by now that crooked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was finally booted from office last week — a monumental victory for keeping our communities clean, safe, and healthy. LCV worked tirelessly to #BootPruitt, and now we will continue working to ensure that the next EPA administrator will be a person who actually protects our environment (spoiler: Andrew Wheeler doesn’t fit the bill).

THE AUTOPSY: Pruitt survived scandal after scandal, but what finally brought him down was his ambition. It appears that the last straw for Trump was Pruitt’s relentless lobbying for the attorney general job.

PRUITT’S PARTING SHOT: Before departing, Pruitt approved a loophole that will allow “super polluting” glider trucks to emit as much as 55 times the air pollution as regularly-regulated trucks. This has been opposed by virtually everyone — from environmental groups to public health officials to industry giants.

WASHINGTON’S PARTING SHOT: It looks like a number of the inquiries into Pruitt’s corrupt activities may continue despite his resignation.

GOOD RIDDANCE: A number of Pruitt’s key allies at the EPA have decided to follow him out the door — hopefully enabling the EPA to staff up with people who actually know what they’re doing.

BUT, BUT, BUT: Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler could be even more dangerous than Pruitt — here’s why:

  • He’s a former coal lobbyist and staffer for climate-denier Senator Jim Inhofe, likely to sell out to the dirty energy industry.
  • He’s a Washington insider who knows how to get things done quickly and effectively.
  • He knows how to keep his head down and tear apart the EPA without drawing too much attention.

FIRST MOVE: The EPA is touting a plan to make coal plants more efficient as its replacement for the Clean Power Plan, fulfilling a court order to replace the Obama-era advancement rather than scrap it entirely. That being said, this proposal is problematic —  making coal plants more efficient and cheaper to operate incentivizes them to produce more and therefore create a net increase of carbon dioxide emissions.

BIG SIREN: According to former and current agency officials, the EPA is suppressing a report warning that most people in this country are at risk of developing cancer due to exposure to formaldehyde vapor. This bombshell report — which we are still waiting on — was nearly finished before Trump became president, but we still haven’t seen it because of the EPA’s assault on toxic chemicals research

UP NEXT?: Also on the docket for Wheeler are a number of projects Pruitt started but never finished — all of which could strip away even more environmental protections. But Pruitt resigned in disgrace, and every every single decision made under his tainted leadership must be revisited.  

THE BOTTOM LINE: Wheeler — like Pruitt — is going to continue pushing Trump’s reckless and harmful agenda.

TAKE A GOOD, HARD LOOK: Reports indicate that the Office of Special Counsel is looking into Zinke’s ‘MAGA’ sock scandal, which potentially constituted a violation of the Hatch Act.

HOT TAKE: According to the executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, Daniel Stevens: “[Zinke] continues to play fast and loose with federal ethics laws.” Sound familiar to a recently departed EPA chief?

CARPETBAGGER SHUTS OFF ACCESS TO PUBLIC LANDS: Maryland real estate developer, Matt Rosendale, who bought a ranch in Montana so that he could run for office there is now running for the Senate. This week, LCV Victory Fund launched a $990,000 ad campaign exposing his ties to Texas oil billionaires, the Wilks brothers, who are notorious for buying up property in Montana and blocking access to public lands. The campaign shows how Rosendale backed legislation they supported while Rosendale was taking thousands in royalty payments more proof that Rosendale’s only looking out for developers like himself.

FISHY ACCOUNTING: Rosendale also came under scrutiny for this week after The Daily Beast reported he’d been routing campaign contributions through his personal bank account to skirt donation limits. Donors involved in the scheme include another pair of Texans oil tycoons, Wayne and Gayle Laufer. Someone please remind Rosendale which state he’s running for office in.

TOXIC ALGAE SHAKES UP FLORIDA SENATE RACE: Headlines in the Sunshine State were dominated this week by what The Gainesville Sun’s editorial board called “an environmental crisis of [Gov. Rick Scott’s] own making.” Water discharges from Lake Okeechobee have caused toxic algae blooms across the region, ruining beach vacations and threatening local economies and ecosystems. Locals were quick to point out that Scott’s own policies — including sharp funding cuts to environmental protection — contributed to the situation, and Scott’s attempt to save face should be taken with a grain of salt.

OUR TAKE: As Florida Conservation Voters’ Aliki Moncreif told News 4: “Whether it was cutting budgets, laying off scientific staff, just completely dismantled environmental agencies … he’s spent years fighting with the EPA over water quality standards.”

WHICH ONE IS IT??: Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-3) released a new TV ad this week attempting to convince voters he will protect their air, water, and Boundary Waters — the same treasured place that recently received $4 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Paulsen voted to cut by $16 million last month. He can’t have it both ways — Paulsen is trying to run away from his anti-environmental record, and LCV Victory Fund called him out for it.

NEW POLLING: A new poll of 20 battleground U.S. House districts conducted by Global Strategy Group finds that environmental messaging can swing competitive 2018 races. Anti-environmental candidates start with a 2-point disadvantage in a set of districts that Republicans won by 15 points in 2016. More important, messaging focused on the Trump administration’s attacks on the environment and their public health impacts shifts vote choice by 11 percent in favor of their pro-environment challengers. Check out the full results here, as well detailed breakdowns from CA-25, MN-02 and NJ-03.

INFORMATION SUPPRESSION: Mirroring the Trump administration’s attempts to suppress and downplay a report on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination, Michigan news site, MLIVE, broke the news this week that the state of Michigan has also been suppressing information about how these dangerous chemicals impact public health. In fact, the cover up goes back as far as eight years.

IN RESPONSE: The Michigan League of Conservation Voters held a press call with experts and leaders calling for an investigation and accountability. As executive director Lisa Wozniak told MLIVE: ‘“This report is a damning indictment of an agency whose core mission is to protect our environment and public health.The fact that this report was suppressed for six years is appalling and inexcusable,” she said, calling for a “complete investigation” into the DEQ’s handling of the report.’

WORTH A WATCH: Late night host Stephen Colbert gave our embattled EPA chief a brilliant and hilarious send-off — you have to check it out!

 

COMING UP:

NEXT WEEK — House to consider 2019 Interior and Environment funding bill

SEPTEMBER 30 — Expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s best parks program

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