THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – October 13, 2017

Your weekly resource to learn what the environmental movement is saying about the news of the day and the political fight of our generation. Be sure to follow LCV on Facebook and Twitter.

 

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“The EPA’s mission is simple: protect our health and environment. Playing games with the science to justify rolling back the Clean Power Plan and the health and economic benefits it would provide ignores this basic moral and ethical imperative.”

 

— Former EPA Administrator and Chair of LCV’s Board of Directors Carol Browner on the administration’s move to repeal the Clean Power Plan

 

“Her [Kathleen Hartnett-White] ill-conceived policies would put the health of our families at risk and increase the deadly impact of climate change.”

 

— League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, on the Trump administration’s nomination of Kathleen Hartnett-White to chair the Council on Environmental Quality

 

“House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop’s radical bill guts the Antiquities Act, arbitrarily limits the scope and size of protected lands and waters, prohibits marine national monuments, and gives presidents authority to shrink existing national monuments….Congress and the Trump administration should abandon their shameful assaults on our national parks and monuments.”

 

— League of Conservation Voters Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld on the House Committee on Natural Resources markup of H.R. 3990

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 Washington Post: Trump taps climate skeptic for top White House environmental post

CBS: Bloomberg unveils clean energy commitment to counter rollback of emissions rule

The Week: How to rebuild Puerto Rico

ThinkProgress: Repeal and replace’ round 2: How Trump will unravel the Clean Power Plan
The State Press: Environmental organizations empower students to fight for change

 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:

 Times of Trenton (NJ): Have your say in how hundreds of millions are spent | Editorials

The Nevada Independent (NV): The Indy Explains: What repealing the Clean Power Plan means for Nevada

Vermont Business Magazine (VT): State joins ‘Children’s Environmental Health Day’ for stronger protections from harmful chemicals

Crain’s Detroit Business (MI): End of Clean Power Plan unlikely to change energy direction in Michigan

 


REPEAL AND…DO A FAVOR FOR INDUSTRY?: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt this week announced plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a signature component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The repeal will not only increase dangerous carbon pollution that accelerates climate change, but it will also increase particulate matter that can significantly affect people’s lungs and respiratory systems. Pruitt declared that “the war on coal is over,” but energy producers are still transitioning to cleaner energy sources because of decreasing costs and increasing public health benefits.

OUR TAKE: “Scott Pruitt has already granted dozens of favors to his polluter friends, but repealing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will be one of the worst. People across the country submitted a record-breaking 8 million comments in support of establishing the country’s first national limits on dangerous power plant carbon pollution, but Pruitt is proposing to gut this commonsense policy – threatening our health, worsening climate change and continuing the cycle of monstrous hurricanes and wildfires that are devastating countless communities.” —LCV President Gene Karpinski

WORTH A READ: Amy Davidson Sorkin at The New Yorker analyzes Trump and Pruitt’s total failure of government in repealing the Clean Power Plan during and after massive climate-boosted natural disasters.

MEANWHILE: While Pruitt undermines necessary climate standards, 2017 became the first year in more than a century and only the fourth year ever with ten consecutive Atlantic storms that reached hurricane strength. Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump are making our global community more and more dangerous with their reckless and negligent policies.

 STATES STRIKE BACK: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $64 million to environmental groups – including LCV – for efforts to promote climate action in states across the country, including replacing coal power plants with clean energy.

YET ANOTHER REPEAL: This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case that Scott Pruitt launched in one of his attempts to destroy the EPA while serving as Attorney General of Oklahoma. Pruitt challenged the Clean Water Rule, which specifies which bodies of water the EPA is responsible for protecting, a challenge meant to dismantle some of the protections. Now, as head of the EPA, Pruitt is working to fulfill his career-long goal of repealing the Clean Water Rule and putting at risk the drinking water for more than 117 million people.

SIREN: RECKLESS CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL AS U.S. SUFFERS FROM IMPACT: In the EPA’s 38-page 4-year strategic planning document, released last week for public comment, the words “climate change” appear exactly zero times. In the Trump administration, the EPA has denied the scientific consensus on climate change, going so far as to propose a “red team-blue team” exercise to debate the widely accepted science of climate change. The administration has also put forth a concerted effort to scrub mentions of climate change from websites, written materials, and grant proposals. But in the wake of devastating severe weather events in California, Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and elsewhere the willful omission of climate change in the planning document is reckless and negligent.

ANOTHER ATTACK ON PUBLIC LANDS AND WATERS: On Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill that would severely restrict the creation of new parks and monuments and make it easier to roll back existing protections.  H.R. 3990, introduced just days before the markup, would limit the scope and size of protected lands and waters, prohibit the creation of new marine monuments, and give presidents the authority to shrink existing national monuments. The legislation is yet another attack on parks and public lands, which has been a focus of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump administration. Congressional Republicans are trying to rush through a bill to undermine the Antiquities Act and carry water for corporate polluters and Big Oil who want to pad their profits by drilling on our public lands and waters.

OUR TAKE: “Many of our national parks like Acadia, Grand Teton, Arches, and Olympic were first protected as national monuments under the Antiquities Act, which was signed by President Teddy Roosevelt and used by 16 presidents of both parties. But if this radical anti-parks bill were in place at the time, those treasured places would not be protected today.” —Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV Senior Vice President for Government Affairs

DRIP … DRIP … MORE ZINKE ETHICAL LAPSES: We think the number of investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s ethical lapses is now up to five, but honesty, it’s been hard to keep up. New instances of Zinke mixing his official travel with political campaigning were revealed this week – including attending a fundraiser for the Virgin Islands Republican Party just weeks after being sworn in. Zinke is also being scrutinized for spending taxpayer money on private flights and military aircraft, including a chartered trip home to Montana on a plane owned by oil and gas executives.

 DANGEROUS SUPERFUND SITES: Communities in Texas and Puerto Rico that are still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria now face the additional risk of contaminated water from toxic Superfund sites. In Houston, the EPA has authorized a cleanup plan for toxins that were dispersed during flooding from Harvey, but one of the organizations responsible for helping with the cleanup says that the EPA’s plan doesn’t do enough to protect community members from the toxins. In Puerto Rico, people desperate for water have resorted to trying to get water from toxic wells at Superfund sites. The Trump administration dropped the ball – the recovery isn’t moving quickly enough and people are putting themselves at risk in order to survive.

THEN WHAT’S THE POINT OF THE JOB? ​(ANOTHER) CLIMATE DENIER IN THE WHITE HOUSE: On Thursday, President Trump named Kathleen Hartnett-White to head the Council on Environmental Quality. Hartnett-White is a climate change denier who is now being given the ​responsibility to protect people from environmental threats, requiring an understanding of science and the harmful impacts​ of climate change. Her record shows she has taken radical positions, including calling to “end the designation of CO2 as a pollutant” —  at odds with the vast majority of people in this country, in addition to reality.

CALIFORNIA TAKES A STAND: Last Friday, the California Attorney General’s Office and the California Air Resources Board sent a joint letter to the EPA strongly opposing the Trump administration’s exploration of rolling back plans to require better gas mileage in cars by 2025. The automobile industry has requested that the federal government loosen these standards and the Trump administration is amenable, but California has a large enough market for cars that having two separate standards may be untenable for many companies.

 

COMING UP:

 Next week – Senate expected to consider budget resolution, which includes instructions to open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

 October 18 — 45th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

October 19 – Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the FY2018 Interior and Environment funding bill

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