THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – September 8, 2017
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“I know the feeling – the worry, the anxiety – my community is facing. As someone who lived my entire life without documentation, I know what it means to live in the shadows. Last year, I became a citizen and proudly voted in my first election. Today, it pains me to know that those in situations similar to mine may never know this pride, because the Trump administration has stripped them of the opportunity to formally belong to the nation they call home. The Latino community has seen so much progress since DACA was first enacted by President Obama – we’ve seen our community step up on the biggest issues of our lifetime, not only on immigration or fair wages – but we’re taking action to protect our environment. We have grown our political power to have a voice, even if we aren’t all afforded a vote.”
- Rudy Zamora, director of the League of Conservation Voters’ Chispa Nevada, on Donald Trump’s DACA announcement.
“This spending bill echoes the Trump administration’s radical budget request in pursuing damaging cuts to programs that protect public health and fuel our outdoor economy. It goes after the Environmental Protection Agency with a cut of more than $500 million – 7 percent – which would come on top of the 20 percent reduction the agency has sustained since 2010.”
- Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, in a letter urging members of the House to reject the eight-bill appropriations package
“As we witness the devastating impacts of climate change wreak havoc on our families and communities, the Trump administration is taking every opportunity to eliminate and weaken the tools we have to combat it – including attempting to weaken the clean car standards. And as someone who grew up in Texas, Hurricane Harvey is a painful reminder of what’s at stake if President Trump continues to willfully ignore this grave threat.”
- Sara Jordan, legislative representative for the League of Conservation Voters, in testimony opposing weakening the EPA’s clean car standards
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Washington Post Energy 202: Why climate change deniers mistrust hurricane forecasts too
Inside Climate News: As Hurricanes Irma and Harvey Slam the U.S., Climate Deniers Remain Steadfast
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:
Bay Weekly (MD): A Drive for Clean Rides
Hartford Courant (CT): Proposed State Energy Strategy Draws Critics
New Mexico PBS (NM): Juntos Environmental Group Wants The State To Replace Diesel Buses
LCV TO HOUSE MEMBERS: EPA APPROPRIATIONS BILL WILL SLASH ENVIRO PROTECTIONS: In a letter to Congress, LCV urged House members to vote against the appropriations package that would “harm people’s health and the outdoors by slashing funding for many critical programs” and “use radical policy riders to outright block environmental protections and other domestic priorities that benefit communities nationwide.” LCV is strongly considering scoring this legislation and amendment votes to it in its annual Scorecard, which details the voting records of members of Congress on environmental issues.
The spending bill goes after:
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a cut of more than $500 million – 7 percent – which would come on top of the 20 percent reduction the agency has sustained since 2010.
- America’s best parks program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, is slashed 32 percent below the enacted level and is funded well below the authorized level of $900 million.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is reduced by $710 million, including a 19 percent cut to the agency’s climate research.
NOT HOT AIR: CONVERSATION AROUND CLIMATE CHANGE REIGNITES AROUND IRMA, HARVEY, FIRES – Scientists are shouting from the top of their lungs: climate change is a primary contributor to the catastrophic weather and devastating wildfires that are battering the United States and the Caribbean. People are listening, but when will Republican leaders and the Trump administration? See below:
- Miami Herald: President Trump, hurricanes Harvey and Irma are sending you a message
- USA Today: Climate change juiced Hurricane Harvey
- The Atlantic: Has Climate Change Intensified 2017’s Western Wildfires?
- Vox: As hurricanes and wildfires rage, US climate politics enters the realm of farce
- Sacramento Bee: Heat wave, fires, hurricanes bear the ‘fingerprints of climate change,’ scientists say
- Chicago Sun Times: Hurricanes keep coming, and our heads are stuck in the sand
- Washington Post: Irma and Harvey should kill any doubt that climate change is real
- Newsweek: FIRST HURRICANE HARVEY, NOW IRMA: IS CLIMATE CHANGE TO BLAME FOR DESTRUCTIVE STORMS?
- Huffington Post: The Climate Post: Hurricanes Increase Attention to Climate Change, Shed Light on Infrastructure Concerns
- Bloomberg: Future Hurricanes Will Be Worse Than Harvey
BUT DON’T ASK SCOTT PRUITT: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made headlines when he told CNN that it’s “very, very insensitive” to be talking about climate change as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida. If anything’s insensitive, it’s refusing to accept that climate change is making these monstrous storms worse as communities deal with the very real consequences of inaction – and pushing to slash the EPA’s budget right when we need it the most.
WHEN THE RAIN COMES: TRUMP ADMINISTRATION REMOVED TOOLS TO PROTECT AGAINST FLOODING: Last month, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era standards that were meant to ensure infrastructure would be more resilient to flooding and rising sea levels. The damage of Hurricane Harvey may have them rethinking their approach to flood standards, the Washington Post reported. That’d be wise.
FLASHBACK: When Trump first announced his deregulation, he claimed delays in the permitting process were “job-killing.”
DEFCON: EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS REVEALING MASSIVE NATIONAL SECURITY RISK: Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Sherri Goodman penned an op-ed for CNBC that reveals the extent to which recent weather events threaten our national security. “Yet while military leaders and other planners know that storm extremes are increasingly likely as the climate warms,” she writes, “we have not yet taken the steps we need to prepare ourselves for these events. For example, while defense strategy documents recognize climate change as a threat multiplier, plans for military construction and infrastructure do not yet fully account for increased flood and storm risk.”
PRUITT CLEARS OUT EPA: At a time when the country is grappling with severe storms and aggressive wildfires, Scott Pruitt is working to clear out the EPA. Hundreds of employees left this week, and the agency is now nearing the lowest staffing level in almost 30 years. The recent staff departures come from retirement and buyout offers, and there appear to be more coming down the pipe. And while scientists and career employees depart, the EPA is focused on hiring from Big Oil and other fossil fuel industries.
WORTH THE READ: The LA Times Editorial Board on “How President Trump and the EPA’s Scott Pruitt are making America’s environment deadly again.”
ICYMI: Here’s our roundup of many of the attacks Trump and his administration mounted on the environment and climate — in August alone.
MARS TAKES BIG STEP ON CLIMATE: Cities, states and companies have taken up the fight against climate change in the wake of the Trump administration’s reckless decision to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement. Mars, the world’s largest chocolate maker, is now pledging $1 billion over the next few years to fight climate change. CEO Grant Reid noted that combatting the harmful effects of climate change will require “transformational, cross-industry collaboration.” The campaign includes investments in “renewable energy, food sourcing, cross-industry action groups, and farmers” as well as consumer marketing.
WHO IS PULLING THE PUPPET STRINGS? The Washington Post is out with a new investigation of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. They report that the decision was the result of a two-decades-long lobbying campaign by conservative organizations.
SCIENCE WINS, AGAIN: A new scientific review could throw a wrench in Scott Pruitt’s red team, blue team plan: An assessment of the 3 percent of scientific studies that deny climate change found them all flawed. Atmospheric Scientist Katherine Hayhoe noted, “Every single one of those analyses had an error—in their assumptions, methodology, or analysis—that, when corrected, brought their results into line with the scientific consensus.”
SPORTSMEN SOUR ON ZINKE: With Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s recommendations to shrink several national monuments still under wraps, his base is questioning his commitment to our public lands. NPR reports that sportsmen who had “high expectations” for Zinke are upset over how he’s handled the unprecedented monument review.
BETTER CALL MONTANA: A new poll out this week from Montana Conservation Voters shows Zinke’s home state isn’t happy with the monument review either – 54% disagree with his decision to open some national monuments up to mining or oil and gas development, and a whopping 86% think his secret report should be made public.
CHESAPEAKE BAY BACKLASH: Retaliation appears to be the name of the game with the Trump administration. First, there was EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s threat to Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan over their health care votes. And now, the EPA has abruptly cancelled funding to the award-winning Bay Journal. The EPA cited a “shift in priorities” as the reason behind the sudden cancellation of the grant that makes up about one-third of the journal’s funding—but given the administration’s tendency to retaliate, it is likely that the Bay Journal’s unflattering stories on Trump administration policies helped motivate this funding cut.
PUTTING POLITICS INTO SCIENCE: The EPA gives out hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding each year—and now, Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump’s EPA has found a way to insert politics into the process. The EPA has put a former Trump campaign aide and political operative, John Konkus, in charge of reviewing EPA grants. Konkus, who has little environmental policy experience, has reportedly instructed staff to scrub the words “climate change” from grant proposals.
EPA DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH: Scott Pruitt’s EPA took a very Trump-esque approach to responding to an Associated Press story about Hurricane Harvey this week. The story in question reported that the Associated Press had visited seven Superfund sites in the Houston area, and that EPA officials had not yet visited them, and did not yet have plans to do so. In response, the EPA put out a press release personally attacking journalist Michael Biesecker, including his past reporting. In the midst of a severe hurricane season, it looks like Pruitt is taking a page directly from the Trump Twitter playbook, making misguided judgements fueled by pride.
A FINAL NOTE: Our thoughts are with all families and communities in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and beyond who have been affected by the devastation following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as the families and communities in the West that have been affected by the wildfires.
September 11 – 13 –The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with three days of events in D.C.
September 27 – The extended date by which to submit public comments on the EPA’s attempts to roll back the Clean Water Rule.