Week 14

The Headlines

Republican Cracks Emerge in Trump’s Coal-Heavy Energy Plan

April 23, 2017 | Bloomberg

Still, there are enough members of Trump’s cabinet who deny the basic science of global warming that there is little, if any, chance the administration will enthusiastically support clean energy. Instead, the debate is likely to hinge on whether the president will try to actively reverse market forces allowing wind and solar to flourish.

Trump’s Climate Cuts Could Result in Half-Billion Extra Tons of CO2 in the Air

April 25, 2017 | InsideClimate News

The Clean Power Plan to curb carbon emissions from power plants, methane rules covering the oil and gas industry and a handful of efficiency regulations are “highly vulnerable” in the consulting firm’s view, either because they’re high profile or because they haven’t been fully implemented. If these are the only rules the Trump administration is able to repeal, it would erase 332 million metric tons of carbon pollution cuts, Climate Advisers projected.

Tech and oil giants want Trump to keep the Paris Climate Agreement

April 26, 2017 | Mashable

In a letter sent to President Donald Trump by business leaders, oil giants BP and Shell, along with tech firms such as Microsoft, Google, and Intel, tell the administration that the treaty presents both risks and opportunities for their businesses.

April 27, 2017 | Reuters

“It’s not a fair situation because they are paying virtually nothing and we are paying massive amounts of money,” [Trump] said.

Asked for a hint of what his decision might be, he said: “I can say this, we want to be treated fairly.”

U.S. Participation in Paris Agreement ‘Still Under Consideration,’ Tillerson Says

April 28, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“I’m not going to tell the president of the United States to walk away from the Paris accord,” Perry said at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York on Tuesday. “I will say that we need to renegotiate it.” But that is not a compromise that is likely to mollify allies. A spokesman for Germany’s environment ministry called Perry’s position “absurd.”

East coast braces for fresh climate fight as Trump eyes more offshore drilling

April 28, 2017 | The Guardian

The economics of opening up a new frontier for oil is currently unfavorable, with a barrel of crude currently trading for under $50. The strong currents and crashing waves of the Atlantic provide a further logistical hurdle. “Compared to the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico is a lake,” said Cahoon. “Yes, you can engineer your way around that but the question would be ‘is it worth it?’”

Court Gives Trump Small Victory in Push Against Clean Power Plan

April 28, 2017 | The New York Times

The regulation was a major target for Mr. Trump, who called it “stupid” and a “job killer” on the campaign trail and has begun taking steps to repeal it. In an executive order last month, Mr. Trump directed his E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, to begin the lengthy legal process of dismantling it, and at the same time requested that the court put the lawsuit on hold while the agency came up with a new plan.

Had the court rejected Mr. Trump’s request and upheld the Clean Power Plan, it would have made it far more difficult for Mr. Pruitt to roll back the rule.

EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades

April 29, 2017 | The Washington Post

“The EPA’s climate site includes important summaries of climate science and indicators that clearly and unmistakably explain and document the impacts we are having on our planet,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, in response to the website change.

“It’s hard to understand why facts require revision,” she continued.


In Other Congressional News…

The Republicans who care about climate change: ‘They are done with the denial’

April 27, 2017 | The Guardian

“The vast majority of Republicans in private buy the science – the likes of Inhofe are in the minority,” said Danny Richter, legislative director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-profit group that painstakingly helped put together the caucus.

“What Republicans needed was safe passage to talk about climate action in public, to not be the the first one to walk down that rickety bridge. There’s now a group who can see their constituents are genuinely concerned about climate change.”


State Response 

California’s landmark climate-change program would also fight air pollution under proposal

April 24, 2017 | The (San Jose) Mercury News

Cap and trade is generally seen as the most flexible and cost-effective way for industries to comply with California’s strict carbon emissions standards, which by 2030 will be 40 percent below 1990 levels. The regulatory program allows industries to pay to pollute by buying and trading carbon-emission permits.


A New Hope?

One Big Legal Obstacle Keeps Trump from Undoing Greenhouse Gas Regulation

April 26, 2017 | Scientific American

This agency [‘endangerment finding’] rule, supported by two Supreme Court decisions, legally compels the government to do exactly what its new leaders want to avoid: regulate greenhouse gases. Although EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt publicly doubts a connection between human-produced carbon emissions and global warming, any attempt to undo this rule “would be walking into a legal buzz saw,” says Michael Gerrard, faculty director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. Endangerment is “the linchpin for everything—all of the carbon regulation under the Clean Air Act,” says Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School.

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Week 13

The Headlines

Ozone Review Could Be Part of Larger Energy Policy Overhaul

April 12, 2017 | Bloomberg BNA

The EPA in its court filing seeking the delay had indicated that it is taking a look at the ozone standards to determine whether the regulation is subject to a March 28 executive order that instructed the agency to review any existing rules that could “potentially burden” domestic energy production ( Murray Energy Corp. v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 15-1385, 4/11/17 ).

EPA emerges as major target after Trump solicits policy advice from industry

April 16, 2017 | The Washington Post

The NFIB has suggested a raft of changes, including one that would designate the Commerce Department — instead of the State Department — as the agency in charge of approving pipelines and other projects that cross borders. The federation says the lead agency should have “commercial expertise and an interest in encouraging business.”

White House cancels meeting to decide stance on climate pact

April 18, 2017 | ABC News

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders blamed the postponement of the meeting on scheduling conflicts among advisers who were expected to attend. Some of them, she said, wanted to accompany the president on his trip to Wisconsin on Tuesday, and the White House decided to reschedule its internal climate talks.

EPA seeks delay over rule curbing coal plants’ toxic pollution

April 18, 2017 | The Washington Post

The rule on mercury and other air toxins, known as the MATS rule, has been the subject of litigation for years. While the Supreme Court initially required EPA to do a more thorough cost-benefit analysis of the measure, it allowed the new standards to take effect in 2012. Under the rule, coal and oil-fired utilities had to install pollution controls that put them on par with the 12 percent cleanest facilities in their sector.

EPA plans to offer buyouts as part of Trump push to shrink workforce

April 19, 2017 | The Washington Post

O’Grady said for the Trump administration to try to get rid of thousands of employees using the same approach would prove “exorbitantly expensive.” In addition, he said it would amount to “the utter destruction of the U.S. EPA.”

Trump wants to make it easier to drill in national parks. We mapped the 42 parks at risk.

April 20, 2017 | Vox

But now, under the Trump administration, those safeguards are at risk of being watered down or repealed, shifting the burden to protect national parks to environmental watchdogs. And 30 additional national parks with split estate situations could be opened for drilling in the future.

Changes to Energy Dept. websites downplay renewables as a replacement for fossil fuels

April 21, 2017 | The Washington Post

Together, the changes collectively downplay the climate benefits of each form of technology and distance the agency from the idea that they might be used to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, instead emphasizing their economic advantages. It’s a move that’s well in line with the Trump administration’s generally dismissive attitude toward the issue of climate change.


In Other Congressional News…

This Time Congress Is Not Helping Trump Destroy the Planet

April 10, 2017 | Mother Jones

The bill to overturn a methane regulation for public lands that has been long disliked by the oil and gas industry has stalled in the Senate. A number of moderate and Western state Republican senators have worried about the implications of permanently restricting the Interior Department’s ability to regulate methane emissions.


State Response 

Northwest EPA worker blasts new boss in resignation

April 10, 2017 | Seattle Pi

“You will continue to undermine your credibility and integrity with EPA staff, and the majority of the public, if you continue to question this basic science on climate change.”


A Look Back

What Trump’s Surprise Victory Could Mean for Science

November 9, 2016 | Scientific American

The biggest issue is that scientists simply don’t know what Trump is going to do. Trump has changed his mind on plenty of matters; he’s maintained few constants besides wanting to cut spending, keep out immigrants and burn fossil fuels. We don’t know if he’ll cut science spending, and we know he’s interested in a stronger private company presence in some fields, like space exploration.  Scientists have already begun tweeting about their worry that these budget cuts will hit their fields of research via the NIH or NSF.

Week 12

The Headlines

What’s at Stake in Trump’s Proposed E.P.A. Cuts

April 10, 2017 | The New York Times

The exact science behind, and health consequences of, a class of chemicals called endocrine disrupters remains unsettled. With the proposed cuts to research at the E.P.A., it could stay that way.

The budget eliminates a $6 million research and screening effort targeting the chemicals, which are found widely in pesticides, plastics, shampoos and cosmetics, cash register receipts, food can linings and other products. The chemicals have been linked to breast cancer in women and hypospadias, a birth defect in boys.

Ending the program, which would result in the loss of nine jobs, would curtail the agency’s ability to review medical data and work with environmental lawyers to fashion an agency response.

Emerging nations urge rich countries to honour climate finance pledges – statement

April 11, 2017 | Reuters

At a media briefing after the Tuesday meeting, South Africa’s deputy minister of environmental affairs, Barbara Thompson, said recent changes in U.S. policy were “of major concern”.

But “the position of the U.S. is still very unclear to us”, she said, adding “we believe there are different views within the U.S. administration” on this issue.

Trump’s climate demands roil U.S. allies

April 11, 2017 | Politico

After a tense back-and-forth at the meeting in Rome on Monday, the G-7 energy ministers — including representatives from Canada, Great Britain and several European Union countries — wound up scuttling the statement altogether.

April 11, 2017 | The Washington Post

“We are thankful to the court for granting our motion to postpone oral argument,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in an email. “In light of President Trump’s pro-growth agenda, EPA continues to carefully review the broad implications of the 2015 ozone standard and ensure that we are supporting American jobs and protecting human health and the environment.”

Trump’s EPA is seeking a 24/7 security detail for its new leader

April 12, 2017 | The Washington Post

“I think it’s prudent given the continuing activities by the left to foment hatred and the reported hostility within the agency from some unprofessional activists,” Ebell said at the time.

Scott Pruitt Faces Anger From Right Over E.P.A. Finding He Won’t Fight

April 12, 2017 | The New York Times

But now a growing chorus of critics on the other end of the political spectrum say Mr. Pruitt has not gone far enough. In particular, they are angry that he has refused to challenge a landmark agency determination known as the endangerment finding, which provides the legal basis for Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan and other global warming policies.

These critics say that Mr. Pruitt is hacking only at the branches of current climate policy. They want him to pull it out by the roots.

Trump administration halts Obama-era rule aimed at curbing toxic wastewater from coal plants

April 13, 2017 | The Washington Post

That group [Sierra Club] and others noted that power plants represent the largest industrial source of toxic wastewater pollution in the country and that more than a third of coal plants discharge wastewater within five miles of a downstream community’s drinking water intake. They also argued that the Obama administration’s rule was based on years of peer-reviewed studies, input from health experts and a mountain of public comments.

EPA head tells coal miners ‘regulatory assault is over’

April 13, 2017 | The Sentinel [Pennsylvania]

[But] Even coal company executives have publicly expressed doubts that rolling back regulations will stem the coal industry’s decline. Coal mining now accounts for fewer than 75,000 U.S. jobs.

EPA Chief Pruitt: U.S. Should ‘Exit’ Paris Climate Agreement

April 13, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“Paris is something we need to look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion,” Pruitt said in an interview on the Fox & Friends morning news program.

“It’s a bad deal for America,” he said. “It’s an ‘America second, third or fourth’ kind of approach.”


State Response

Trump’s attacks on environment unites 4 ex-N.J. governors | Editorial

April 8, 2017 | NJ.Com

Whitman has joined forces with Brendan Byrne (governor from 1974 to 1982), Thomas Kean (1982 to 1990) and James Florio (1990 to 1994) to urge the state’s congressional delegation to stand firm against the proposed EPA cuts and layoffs.

Chicago Is Pledging To Lead The Nation In Renewable Energy

April 9, 2017 | The Chicagoist

All buildings operated by the city—including government buildings, Chicago Public Schools, park district buildings, Chicago Housing Authority spaces, and community colleges—will be powered 100 percent through renewable energy, the mayor and other city officials announced on Sunday. Emanuel made the announcement on the roof of Shedd Aquarium, which right now sports more than 900 solar panels.

Solar hits big, brief milestone in California

April 10, 2017 | The San Francisco Chronicle

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on March 11, almost 40 percent of the electricity flowing across the ISO grid came from large-scale solar power plants, a record. California has enough big solar facilities to generate up to 9.8 gigawatts of electricity, nearly the output of 10 nuclear reactors.

Portland commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050

April 10, 2017 | The Register-Guard [Oregon]

Monday’s announcement from Mayor Ted Wheeler and County Chair Deborah Kafoury places the Portland-metro region alongside 25 other cities that have committed to 100-percent renewables. Nearly 90 major U.S. companies also have committed.

Fla. makes case for climate research at Mar-a-Lago’s doorstep

April 11, 2017 | E&E News

“What do we do about it?” [Nelson] asked. “Well, first, we need to be clear about the facts that are presented to the public and fight against the political censorship of our climate scientists and their data,” Nelson said. “If a doctor were barred from using the word cancer, he or she can’t do his job. And the same is true of the scientists and the work that they do to understand and educate the public about the Earth’s increasing fever.”

CT, NY Petition EPA To Limit Air Pollution From Rust Belt Coal Plants

April 13, 2017 | WSHU Public Radio

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says the state has the highest level of ozone in the Northeast, due in large part to interstate pollution that comes from coal-fired power plants in states likes Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Okla. bill targets ‘existing scientific theories’

April 13, 2017 | E&E News

The legislation comes amid a national climate change education controversy. Earlier this year, the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank that denies mainstream climate science, shipped 25,000 books and DVDs rejecting the human role in global warming to public schools across the country. The institute aims to send about 200,000 copies of the book, titled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” with the goal of getting the materials into the hands of every science teacher in the country.


A Look Back

Trump Preparing Order to Expand Offshore Oil Drilling

 April 6, 2017 | Bloomberg

“The administration can stare all day at the statute Obama used to protect large parts of the Arctic and Atlantic, but they won’t find a syllable allowing Trump to revoke those protections. Neither will the courts,” said Niel Lawrence, Alaska director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Week 11

The Headlines

Energy Department climate office bans use of phrase ‘climate change’

March 29, 2017 | Politico

A supervisor at the Energy Department’s international climate office told staff this week not to use the phrases “climate change,” “emissions reduction” or “Paris Agreement” in written memos, briefings or other written communication, sources have told POLITICO.

EPA chief says Paris climate agreement ‘bad deal’ for U.S.

April 2, 2017 | Reuters

“To demonstrate the leadership that we have shown on this issue with China and India and other nations is very important and discussions should ensue,” Pruitt said on Fox News Sunday, “but what Paris represents is a bad deal for this country.”

Trump Plan to Slash EPA Budget Goes Even Deeper, New Memo Shows

April 3, 2017 | InsideClimate News

The memo repeatedly portrays climate as outside the agency’s “core statutory requirements.” That’s a radical change from the Obama administration’s last EPA budget proposal, which called greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change adaptation “the issue of highest importance facing the agency.”

U.S. coal companies ask Trump to stick with Paris climate deal

April 4, 2017 | Reuters

In Cloud Peak’s view, staying in the agreement and trying to encourage “a more balanced, reasonable and appropriate path forward” on fossil fuel technologies among signatories to the accord seems like a reasonable stance, said Cloud Peak’s vice president of government affairs, Richard Reavey.

U.S. would slash EPA vehicle testing budget under Trump plan

April 4, 2017 | Reuters

The proposal, which would also cut 168 out of 304 full-time jobs, seeks to partially fund current operations by boosting fees automakers and engine manufacturers pay for testing. An EPA official confirmed the document’s authenticity.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s claim that ‘clean coal’ helped reduce carbon emissions

April 5, 2017 | The Washington Post

Pruitt said additional regulation is unnecessary because carbon emissions have already been reduced to pre-1994 levels. He attributed the decline to a host of nonregulatory efforts, including the ability for factories to use technology to “burn coal in clean fashion.”

Trump declares end to ‘war on coal,’ but utilities aren’t listening

April 5, 2017 | Reuters

The utilities gave many reasons, mainly economic: Natural gas – coal’s top competitor – is cheap and abundant; solar and wind power costs are falling; state environmental laws remain in place; and Trump’s regulatory rollback may not survive legal challenges.

U.S. land agency website drops hiking photo to give coal top billing

April 6, 2017 | Reuters

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, an avid hunter and angler from coal-producing Montana, who rode to his first day of work on a horse named Tonto, approved a $22 million coal lease in central Utah last month.


In Other News…

Even Fox News slams EPA chief’s climate denial: ‘All kinds of studies contradict you’

April 2, 2017 | ThinkProgress [with Fox News video]

“What if, in fact, the earth is warming, what if it is causing dramatic climate change and we as humans through carbon emissions are contributing to it? Simple question, what if you are wrong?”


State Response

New York, other states take on Trump over energy efficiency

April 3, 2017 | Reuters

Ten Democratic attorneys general, plus New York City and a Pennsylvania regulator, on Monday notified Energy Secretary Rick Perry of their plan to sue in 60 days for stalling proposed standards for air compressors, commercial boilers, portable air conditioners, power supplies, and walk-in coolers and freezers.

EPA Should Not Be Allowed to Dodge Clean Power Plan Ruling, Cities and States Tell Court

April 6, 2017 | InsideClimate News

The brief even made a veiled threat that if the courts ultimately rule that states have no recourse under the Clean Air Act to regulate CO2, they might fall back on a tactic that worked for them in the past: suing polluters under common law for the “nuisance” of intense storms, rising seas and damage to public health.


NEW SECTION: Indigenous Response

Tribes That Live Off Coal Hold Tight to Trump’s Promises

April 1, 2017 | The New York Times

But some of the largest tribes in the United States derive their budgets from the very fossil fuels that Mr. Trump has pledged to promote, including the Navajo in the Southwest and the Osage in Oklahoma, as well as smaller tribes like the Southern Ute in Colorado. And the Crow are among several Indian nations looking to the president’s promises to nix Obama-era coal rules, pull back on regulations, or approve new oil and gas wells to help them lift their economies and wrest control from a federal bureaucracy they have often seen as burdensome.


A Look Back

I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations

March 28, 2017 | The Guardian Opinion

From Philadelphia to Toronto, hackers raced against the clock to protect crucial datasets before they disappeared. Volunteers tried tirelessly to save what they could, but the federal government is a massive warehouse of information. Some data was bound to get left behind.

Week 10

The Headlines

The State Dept. Rewrote Its Climate Change Page

March 23, 2017 | Climate Central

“Deleted from the text was: “The United States is taking a leading role by advancing an ever-expanding suite of measures at home and abroad.” Also stricken were references to mitigation efforts and other mentions of leading on climate change.”

Trump moves decisively to wipe out Obama’s climate-change record

March 28, 2017 | The Washington Post

“So, for the president, even if he would like to revoke the Clean Power Plan, he doesn’t have legal authority to do that,” said Jeffrey Holmstead, a partner at the Bracewell law firm who opposes the Obama-era rule. Holmstead, who headed the EPA’s air and radiation office under President George W. Bush, said he thinks the agency can justify reversing the regulation. But “they have to justify why they have changed,” he added.

Trump promised to bring back coal jobs. That promise ‘will not be kept,’ experts say.

March 29, 2017 | The Washington Post

“In this shaky financial environment, coal companies are struggling. Two of the largest, Contura and Arch Coal, emerged from bankruptcy only recently, and another giant, Peabody Energy, recently filed a reorganization plan for its path out of bankruptcy, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.”

Trump’s war on climate policy is also a war on public health

March 29, 2017 | Vox

“The Clean Power Plan, in other words, has been a big win for health. According to the EPA, cutting exposure to particle pollution in the order the CPP does would have averted up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 1,700 heart attacks each year.”

Climate change: China calls US ‘selfish’ after Trump seeks to bring back coal

March 30, 2017 | The Guardian

“No matter how hard Beijing tries, it won’t be able to take on all the responsibilities that Washington refuses to take. …Washington is supposed to take the lead in the global fight against climate change but the Trump administration could be the first to ditch the agreement, which is disappointing.”


In Other Congressional News…

Republican sceptics call climate change hearing that massively backfires as expert witness calls for carbon tax

March 30, 2017 | The Independent

“The witness panel does not really represent the vast majority of climate scientists,” she said. “We’d need 96 more Dr Manns.”


State Response

California Upholds Auto Emissions Standards, Setting Up Face-Off With Trump

March 24, 2017 | The New York Times

“California can write its own standards because of a longstanding waiver granted under the Clean Air Act, giving the state — the country’s biggest auto market — major sway over the auto industry. Twelve other states, including New York and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C., follow California’s standards, a coalition that covers more than 130 million residents and more than a third of the vehicle market in the United States.”

March 27, 2017 | The Guardian

“New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has said warming temperatures are costing the state “not only in dollars but already in lives”, his Florida counterpart, Rick Scott, will be forever saddled by reports that he banned public servants from uttering the words “climate change”.”

A building boom and climate change create an even hotter, drier Phoenix

March 27, 2017 | The Los Angeles Times

“Last month, amid reports that Trump may attempt to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris climate accord, the city moved in the opposite direction: It adopted a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 from 2005 levels — after exceeding its previous goal of 15%.”

What President Trump’s emissions order means for SoCal

March 28, 2017 | KPCC

“It’s a blue state phenomenon,” said Dr. David Victor, a professor of international relations and director of UC San Diego’s Laboratory on International Law and Regulation. “The coasts have been moving into lower emissions, more renewable energy, more expensive energy for a long time.”


A Look (To The Side)

‘Climate change is real’: companies challenge Trump’s reversal of policy

March 29, 2017 | The Guardian

“We’re disappointed the administration has decided to roll back climate regulations such as the clean power plan and others,” Edward Hoover, senior manager of Corporate Communications for Mars, told the Guardian. “Corporations can’t do it alone. Governments play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change on our economy.”

Vatican says Trump risks losing climate change leadership to China

March 30, 2017 | Reuters

“We as a Church, are full of hope that (Trump’s positions) will change,” Turkson said, adding that he hoped “the president realizes that there sometimes can be dissonance between reality and things said during a campaign”.

Week 9

The Headlines

Interior Department to withdraw Obama-era fracking rule, filings reveal

March 15, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Under the proposal, companies that drill on federal and tribal lands would be subject to stricter design standards for wells and for holding tanks and ponds where liquid wastes are stored. They also would be forced to report which chemicals they were pumping into the ground.”

Trump Budget Blueprint Eviscerates Energy Programs

March 16, 2017 | Climate Central

“The proposal fully embraces fossil fuels development while deeply cutting popular environmental cleanup programs such as EPA’s Superfund program, which helps to clean up hazardous waste leftover from abandoned industrial and energy facilities.”

Trump Repeal of Climate Rules Means U.S. Paris Target Now Out of Reach

March 20, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“There were people at the [EPA] hard at work on 2.0 [of climate policy], and they were going to ratchet it up, and it was going to be justified by Paris. It all would have worked, except for that whole election thing,” Bookbinder said. “Now, it’s all over…We’re at square zero.”

Trump Lays Plans to Reverse Obama’s Climate Change Legacy

March 21, 2017 | The New York Times

“The moves are intended to send an unmistakable signal to the nation and the world that Mr. Trump intends to follow through on his campaign vows to rip apart every element of what the president has called Mr. Obama’s “stupid” policies to address climate change. The timing and exact form of the announcement remain unsettled, however.”

The White House calls climate change research a ‘waste.’ Actually, it’s required by law

March 21, 2017 | The Washington Post

“For each of these programs, real people live on the other side of the budget line item,” said Ali Zaidi, a Stanford energy researcher who previously served in a key role in Obama’s Office of Management and Budget overseeing funding for climate and environmental programs. “Students, small business, and sources of economic growth for communities count on this data. Now you’ve got folks waiting by the phone to learn whether they’ll be going to work tomorrow or whether the data that informs their livelihoods will still be available.”

The Hidden Risks of Trump’s EPA Cuts: Birth Defects, Bad Air

March 23, 2017 | Bloomberg

“Calling themselves the Environmental Protection Network, they worked through both Republican and Democratic administrations. The group’s members are putting aside their differences over policies and programs to stop what they say “appears to be nothing less than a full-throttle attack on the principle underlying all U.S. environmental laws—that protecting the health and environment of all Americans is a national priority.””

Trump administration grants approval for Keystone XL pipeline

March 24, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Five years ago, the Keystone XL project faced stiff opposition from Nebraska landowners and environmentalists, many of them worried about potential damage to the state’s massive Ogallala water aquifer and fragile Sand Hills region. In response, the company moved the pipeline’s path farther east. But even that route is sure to face resistance.”


In Other Congressional News…

Republican green groups seek to temper Trump on climate change

March 20, 2017 | Reuters

“Conservative green groups such as ConservAmerica and republicEn, along with politically neutral religious groups such as Catholic Climate Covenant and bipartisan groups such as the Citizens Climate Lobby, have ramped up efforts to recruit more congressional Republicans to work on addressing climate change since Trump’s election.”

Congress grumbles as White House limits spending details

March 22, 2017 | E&E News

“Cantwell was also unaware of the administration’s hesitation to send witnesses up to testify before the full budget is submitted in May but noted that fiscal 2017 appropriations will have to be wrapped up by the end of April, when the current funding resolution expires.”


State Response

Ohio environmentalists alarmed by US budget proposal’s big cuts to EPA

March 12, 2017 | The Columbus Dispatch

“Among the proposals by the Trump administration is one to slash Great Lakes restoration funding by 97 percent — from $300 million to $10 million.”

Green energy in a coal state: the struggle to bring solar jobs to West Virginia

March 19, 2017 | The Guardian

“I really feel like we’re in a race against time, that it’s important we diversify quickly so young folks don’t have to move away,” says Conant. “It’s been really frustrating over the years to see all of my friends leave – pretty much everyone I went to high school with. The state is experiencing a serious brain drain.”

California adopts strictest methane rule in the nation

March 23, 2017 | The San Diego Union-Tribune

“The Trump administration has backed away from efforts to develop a federal rule to curb methane leaks from existing facilities — the nation’s largest source of methane pollution,” Mary Nichols, CARB chair, said in a statement immediately after the vote. “California’s regulations continue our leadership in fighting air pollutants and help meet our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.”

Colorado appeals court says state must protect health and environment before allowing oil and gas drilling

March 23, 2017 | The Denver Post

“The ruling does not mean the COGCC [Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission] now must adopt the teenagers’ proposal to restrict new drilling. It means the COGCC illegally rejected it and sends the case back to district court.”

Vulnerable to climate change, New Mexicans understand its risks

March 23, 2017 | The NM Political Report

“Most New Mexicans know climate change is happening and understand it is human-caused. According to recently-released data, New Mexicans are also more likely than people in about half the country to talk not just about the weather, but climate.”


A Look Back

In race to curb climate change, cities outpace governments

March 13, 2017 | Thomas Reuters Foundation News

“If Trump relaxes standards for clean air, power plants or vehicles “there would be a greater burden on cities to implement programs to fill the gaps,” said Amy Petri of the office of sustainability in the Texas city of Austin.”

Week 8

The Headlines

Scott Pruitt’s office deluged with angry callers after he questions the science of global warming

March 11, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Pruitt’s comments put him at odds with the overwhelming majority of scientists, most world leaders and even his predecessors at the agency.”

Trump is poised to issue a sweeping order dismantling Obama’s climate plan this week

March 14, 2017 | The Washington Post

“It will also reverse an executive order former president Obama issued that instructs agencies to incorporate climate change into the National Environmental Policy Act reviews it applies to federal actions, according to individuals briefed on the order.”

Exxon Concealed Tillerson’s ‘Alias’ Emails From NY Climate Fraud Probe, AG Claims

March 14, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used an email address on the Exxon system under the pseudonym “Wayne Tracker” from at least 2008 through 2015, investigators say. The company has turned over a handful of the emails, but New York authorities believe a much larger trove exists.”

Trump and Automakers Target EPA Mileage Rules

March 15, 2017 | Climate Central

“Trump announced in Michigan on Wednesday that the EPA would review federal mileage standards for 2022 to 2025. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers filed a lawsuit this week challenging the same standards, several weeks after it asked EPA to conduct the review.”

Trump seeks input from U.S. energy companies on Paris climate pact

March 15, 2017 | Reuters

“One of the sources said the companies were “publicly traded fossil fuel companies,” and added the White House would consider their input in making a decision on the Paris accord shortly. The source said the White House has been leading the discussions with the fossil fuel companies and the State Department, which represents the United States in climate negotiations, had not taken part.”

Interior Department to withdraw Obama-era fracking rule, filings reveal

March 15, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Under the proposal, companies that drill on federal and tribal lands would be subject to stricter design standards for wells and for holding tanks and ponds where liquid wastes are stored. They also would be forced to report which chemicals they were pumping into the ground.”

Trump’s Defense Secretary Cites Climate Change as National Security Challenge

March 16, 2017 | ProPublica

“Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves.”

White House calls climate change funding ‘a waste of your money’ – video

March 16, 2017 | The Guardian

“White House budget director Mick Mulvaney confirmed on Thursday that the new administration had no interest in funding to combat climate change, saying: ‘We’re not spending money on that any more. We consider that to be a waste of your money’”

These Climate Programs Would Be Axed Under Trump’s Budget

March 16, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“The agency would see the largest cuts in its history: $2.6 billion, or 31.4 percent of its budget. The planned cut of 3,200 positions would put staffing at its lowest level since 1978. About $100 million would be saved by discontinuing funding for the Clean Power Plan and any international climate change, climate change research and partnership programs.”

Trump Budget Would Cripple U.S. International Climate Change Work

March 17, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“The White House in its 2018 budget proposal released Thursday called for combined cuts of $10.1 billion, or 28 percent, to the two leading agencies on international climate work—the State Department and U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID). This is on top of even deeper cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and other departments with domestic climate programs.”


State Response

Can the Golden State go 100% green?

March 13, 2017 | E&E News

“The nation’s most populous state switching to fully renewable electricity sounds idealistic. But several experts said it can be done — with a lot depending on definitions, technological advancements and acceptable price tags.”

INTERVIEW-Despite city’s newest resident, Washington D.C. pushes climate action

March 14, 2017 | Thomson Reuters Foundation

“”We know in cities we can use our procurement power, our power in building codes and our bully pulpit to say we must fight climate change. And there are some very real effects on our bottom line,” she said in a telephone interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”


In Other Congressional News…

House Republicans’ Group Launches Effort to Tackle Climate Change

March 15, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“The resolution makes the argument that it is a conservative principle to “protect, conserve and be good stewards of the environment, responsibility plan for all market factors, and base our policy decisions in science and quantifiable fact.””


A Look Back

The 6 most important parts of Donald Trump’s energy policy

May 26, 2016 | Vox

“The United States is currently the largest producer of petroleum and natural gas in the world, thanks in part to the massive fracking boom that’s been taking place around the country since the 2000s:

But to hear Trump tell it, we’re barely producing anything at all. He wants more — much more. On his first day in office, “American energy dominance will be declared a strategic, economic, and foreign policy goal of the United States,” he said. “It’s about time!””

Week 7

The Headlines

March 3, 2017 | The Guardian

“Donald Trump’s administration is proposing a 25% reduction in the EPA’s $8.1bn budget, eliminating nearly 3,000 jobs and several programs including the agency’s environmental justice office. Funding for the cleanup of lead, marine pollution, tribal lands and the Great Lakes region faces severe cuts, while climate initiatives are earmarked for a 70% budget reduction.”

EPA expected to reopen vehicle emissions decision: source

March 3, 2017 | Reuters

“The auto group requests follow a separate letter to President Donald Trump earlier this month from the chief executives of GM, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU.N) (FCHA.MI), along with the top North American executives at Toyota, VW, Honda, Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) and others urging Trump to revisit the decision.”

E.P.A. Head Stacks Agency With Climate Change Skeptics

March 7, 2017 | The New York Times

“Mr. Pruitt has drawn heavily from the staff of his friend and fellow Oklahoma Republican, Senator James Inhofe, long known as Congress’s most prominent skeptic of climate science. A former Inhofe chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, will be Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff. Another former Inhofe staff member, Byron Brown, will serve as Mr. Jackson’s deputy. Andrew Wheeler, a fossil fuel lobbyist and a former Inhofe chief of staff, is a finalist to be Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, although he requires confirmation to the position by the Senate.”

Chief Environmental Justice Official at EPA Resigns, With Plea to Pruitt to Protect Vulnerable Communities

March 9, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“”When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the EJ small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1,400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most,” Ali wrote. “I strongly encourage you and your team to continue promoting agency efforts to validate these communities’ concerns, and value their lives.””

EPA head Scott Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming

March 9, 2017 | The Guardian

“This stance puts Pruitt at odds with his own agency, which states on its website that carbon dioxide is the “primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change”. This finding is backed by Nasa, which calls CO2 “the most important long-lived ‘forcing’ of climate change”.”

The Clean Power Plan is gone — and there’s no ‘replace’

March 9, 2017 | E&E News

“It was unclear until now if the Trump administration would “repeal and replace” the Clean Power Plan, or just set upon a path to undo it. Some had anticipated that the Trump administration might pursue an alternative and much less stringent rule, but the executive order will only call for the withdrawal of the regulation.”

What You Need to Know About Trump’s Proposed Climate Cuts

March 10, 2017 | National Geographic News

“At 2016 levels, that 17-percent reduction [of NOAA} would run the U.S. Department of Defense for just under 15 hours—and could hamper U.S. weather forecasting and monitoring of natural disasters, not to mention studies of climate change, say weather and climate experts.”


State Response

Will SF Bay wetlands restoration be a casualty of EPA cuts?

March 3, 2017 | SF Gate

“Air pollution grants to big cities, programs to clean trash and pollutants from waters at the Mexican border and efforts to cut diesel emissions would all be discontinued. In addition, climate protection programs would be cut by 70 percent, while dozens of programs to reduce lead in drinking water, clean up marine pollution, and fix leaking underground storage tanks, would be slashed.”

Trump budget virtually kills Great Lakes initiative

March 4, 2017 | The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

“To the dismay of many Toledo-area officials and environmental groups, the Trump Administration is trying to kill all but 3 percent of funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”


In Other Congressional News…

March 8, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Planning 2.0, which was finalized late last year by the Bureau of Land Management, was intended to shorten and streamline the process associated with federal land use planning, while making it more transparent and accessible by allowing for earlier and greater public input on proposed management plans. It was touted by BLM officials as a way to make faster decisions that best reflect the concerns and priorities of the communities they affect.”


A Look Back

How to fight climate change without Washington

February 21, 2017 | The Boston Globe

“The ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency probably spells an end to all federal leadership on climate change for the next four years. States have to pick up the slack, and reviving the program — known by the jargony term “low-carbon fuel standard” — would be a good way to start.”

Week 6

The Headlines

Trump establishes task forces to eliminate ‘job killing regulations’

February 24, 2017 | The Washington Post

“A coalition of public watchdog and environmental groups is already challenging a Feb. 8 executive order Trump signed that calls for the elimination of two regulations for every new one that is issued. Scott Slesinger, who serves as legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that the latest directive also poses a threat to the public.”

Aggressive cuts to Obama-era green rules to start soon: EPA head

February 25, 2017 | Reuters

“”I think there are some regulations that in the near-term need to be rolled back in a very aggressive way. And I think maybe next week you may be hearing about some of those,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told the Conservative Political Action summit in Washington DC.”

Trump to Propose 10% Defense Increase in Budget Plan, Aides Say

February 26, 2017 | Bloomberg

““Its clogged the bloodstream of our country,” Trump said of [EPA] earlier this month. “People can’t do anything, people are looking to get approvals for factories for 15 years.””

Trump has begun dismantling Obama’s EPA rules. First up: the Clean Water Rule.

March 1, 2017 | Vox

“Rolling back this rule won’t be easy to do. By law, Pruitt has to go through the formal federal rulemaking process and replace Obama’s regulation with his own version — and then defend it in court as legally superior. And, as Pruitt’s about to find out, figuring out which bodies of water deserve protection is a maddeningly complex task that could take years.”

March 1, 2017 | The Washington Post

“In addition, 38 separate programs would be eliminated entirely. Grants to clean up brownfields, or abandoned industrial sites, would be gone. Also zeroed out: the radon program, climate change initiatives and funding for Alaskan native villages.”

Top Trump Advisers Are Split on Paris Agreement on Climate Change

March 2, 2017 | The New York Times

“While the president cannot, as Mr. Trump suggested, unilaterally undo a 194-nation accord that has already been legally ratified, he could initiate the four-year process to withdraw the world’s largest economy and second-largest climate polluter from the first worldwide deal to tackle global warming. Such a move would rend a global deal that has been hailed as historic, throwing into question the fate of global climate policy and, diplomats say, the credibility of the United States.”

EPA withdraws Obama-era request for data on oil, natural gas

March 2, 2017 | Associated Press

“Methane, the key component of natural gas, has a global warming potential more than 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. The oil and gas industry is the largest industrial methane source in the United States.”


State Response

How will Alaskans talk climate change with the Trump administration?

February 28, 2017 | adn.com

“Climate change is an important enough priority for the state of Alaska to have been invoked by Gov. Bill Walker in his state of the state address: “Alaska is the only Arctic state in the nation — and we are ground zero for climate impacts,” he said in his address, delivered a month ago.”


In Other Congressional News…

Partisan Divide in Congress Wider Than Ever on Environmental Issues, Group Says

February 23, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“House Republicans cast pro-environmental votes just 5 percent of the time in 2016, while their Democratic colleagues tallied a 94 percent voting record, according to the League of Conservation Voters. That makes the 114th Congress the most politically polarized in the 46-year history of LCV’s Scorecard, the new numbers released Thursday show.”

Members of Congress met to discuss the costs of climate change. They ended up debating its existence.

February 28, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Can anyone on the panel give me a date certain, even a year certain, that there was absolutely no climate change on this planet since the forming of it?” Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) asked the witnesses at one point.

March 2, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Perry’s foes criticized his tepid acknowledgment of climate change, his strong ties to his state’s oil and gas industry, and his lack of experience with the department’s main budgetary area, the maintenance of the nation’s nuclear stockpile. And they wondered whether he will be able to protect the department’s national laboratories and other scientific research against those who would slash the budget.”


A Look Back

January 27, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Davis Filfred, a Navajo Nation Council delegate and official representative to Utah, said in an interview that while the tribes were prepared to go to court over the issue, the back-and-forth felt like “a tug of war” they would rather avoid.”

What Cities Looked Like Before the EPA

March 2, 2017 | CityLab

“While you can see (and breathe) the difference today, the EPA has facts to back it up. Since 1970, the agency has reduced the six most common air pollutants by more than 50 percent, reduced air toxins from large industrial sources by almost 70 percent, and eliminated the use of ozone-depleting chemicals. And this progress was accomplished even as the country’s GDP tripled, energy consumption increased by 50 percent, and vehicle use nearly doubled.”

Week 5

The Headlines

Trump to roll back Obama’s climate, water rules through executive action

February 20, 2017 | The Washington Post

“While both directives will take time to implement, they will send an unmistakable signal that the new administration is determined to promote fossil-fuel production and economic activity even when those activities collide with some environmental safeguards.”

Pruitt questions agency’s authority to regulate carbon

February 20, 2017 | E&E News

“Those sentiments seem to contrast with Pruitt’s testimony at his confirmation hearing last month.

“I believe the EPA has a very important role at regulating the emissions of CO2,” Pruitt said during one exchange with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).”

Pruitt Enters EPA With Conciliatory Words, but Staff Braces for Steep Cuts

February 21, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“Pruitt’s view echoes the complaints of industry lobbyists who have decried EPA’s settlement of a number of lawsuits brought by environmental groups during the Obama administration. Under these agreements, the EPA finalized regulations to control mercury from power plants, address air quality issues due to ozone, clean up the Chesapeake Bay and regulate greenhouse gases.”

Thousands of emails detail EPA head’s close ties to fossil fuel industry

February 22, 2017 | The Washington Post

“In one example, Pruitt was a speaker at an ALEC conference on May 3, 2013, in Oklahoma City. He was part of a panel called, “Embracing American Energy Opportunities: From Wellheads to Pipelines.” The event also featured a reception at the Petroleum Club and a luncheon sponsored by Koch Industries.”

February 23, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Noting that “there was no discussion between the transition team and CEQ” in the months between the November election and Trump’s inauguration, Goldfuss added, “There is little regard for environmental policy. And moving the staff that’s responsible for speaking to the public about environmental policy out of their home just highlights the agenda to disregard the environment and the public interest.””


State Response

Pueblo, Colorado and Moab, Utah commit to 100% renewable energy

February 14, 2017 | Sierra Club

“In Utah, Canyonlands National Park has been marred by haze pollution from two neighboring coal plants, which threatens the local Moab tourism industry – the economic lifeblood of the community. With this week’s announcements, both communities are poised to confront these threats by transitioning away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.”

New record: plain states exceed 50 percent wind power

February 15, 2017 | Into the Wind

“This latest achievement in SPP is only the most recent in a series of wind power setting records in various electricity markets. Just last December, four other grid operators saw wind set new output records.”

‘The wild west of wind’: Republicans push Texas as unlikely green energy leader

February 20, 2017 | The Guardian

“But while the president and many Republicans in Congress have been disdainful of renewable energy and dismissive of climate change, support for wind in conservative areas has been quietly noted. In 2015, Congress extended a tax credit for wind production until 2020. With many rural communities feeling the benefits of wind energy, it’s unlikely that Trump would find much backing if he attempted to pull away this support.”

Will Oregon regulate carbon emissions?

February 20, 2017 | Statesman Journal

“Previous attempts to put a price on carbon have been opposed by Associated Oregon Industries and some of its member businesses. They have argued that climate change is a global problem and Oregon’s emissions account for just a small fraction of those worldwide.”

California Bill Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2045

February 22, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“The California Energy Commission says the state got about 27 percent of its electricity from renewables last year, slightly better than the 25 percent required by law. Capacity has more than doubled over the past decade. California’s largest utilities have also said they are ahead of schedule for meeting their 2020 goal.”


In Other Congressional News…

House Republicans demand climate documents from state attorneys general — again

February 17, 2017 | The Washington Post

“In a letter accompanying the reissued subpoena, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chair of the science committee, noted that the reissued subpoena was part of a continued “investigation of potential adverse effects of the actions of the ‘Green 20’ attorneys general on the national scientific enterprise.” The “Green 20” was a name applied to a group of state attorneys general who vowed last March to address the issue of climate change, in part by holding fossil-fuel companies accountable for any efforts to combat or suppress climate science.”

Citing tweet, Chaffetz asks whether Bryce Canyon officials had advance notice of Bears Ears designation

February 21, 2017 | The Washington Post

“In a Feb. 2 response, Fritzke wrote that a summer intern who had read media coverage of the prospect of Bears Ears becoming a national monument created the map slot in 2016. The intern’s supervisor approved the request, she wrote “knowing that if the Bears Ears National Monument was not created, the slot could be used by another regional recreation area.””


A Look Back

The EPA Has Started to Remove Obama-era Information

February 2, 2017 | Climate Central

“Federal climate plans created under former President Obama, tribal assistance programs, and references to international cooperation have been stricken from the site.”