Week 4

The Headlines

5 possible futures for the EPA under Trump

February 13, 2017 | Vox

“Rewriting regulations isn’t the only way for the Trump administration to curtail the EPA. They’ll also submit budget requests to Republicans in Congress, many of whom want to shrink the agency considerably.”

Trump signs law rolling back disclosure rule for energy and mining companies

February 14, 2017 | The Washington Post

““It’s a big deal,” Trump said as he signed the measure in the Oval Office. “The energy jobs are coming back. Lots of people going back to work now.” The White House later issued a background paper saying the measure Trump signed “blocks a misguided regulation from burdening American extraction companies.””

Trump’s vow to scrap the Paris climate change accord faces skepticism from corporations, GOP moderates

February 15, 2017 | The Los Angeles Times

“Exxon Mobil is all in on Paris, which aims to contain global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial-age levels; so are DuPont, Unilever and Monsanto, the multinational genetically engineered food juggernaut that often tangles with the environmental movement. Half of the companies on the Fortune 500 already have greenhouse gas reduction plans in place.”

Trump’s likely science adviser calls climate scientists ‘glassy-eyed cult’

February 15, 2017 | The Guardian

““There’s a huge amount of money that we spend on saving the planet,” [Tapper] said. “If it turns out that the planet doesn’t need saving as much as we thought, well, there are other ways you could spend the money.”

Trump’s Repeal of Stream Rule Helps Coal at the Expense of Climate and Species

February 15, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“Central Appalachia, where much of the mining that would have been affected by the rule takes place, hosts some of the richest biodiversity in North America. Many endemic species live only within particular river systems or valleys.”

EPA staff told to prepare for Trump executive orders: sources

February 16, 2017 | Reuters

“”It was just a heads-up to expect some executive orders, that’s it,” one of the sources said.

The second source said attendees at the meeting were told Trump would sign between two and five executive orders.”

E.P.A. Workers Try to Block Pruitt in Show of Defiance 

February 16, 2017 | The New York Times

“But because Civil Service rules make it difficult to fire federal workers, the show of defiance indicates that Mr. Pruitt will face strong internal opposition to many of his promised efforts to curtail E.P.A. activities and influence.”

February 17, 2017 | The Washington Post

“The vote came after Democrats held the Senate floor for hours overnight Thursday and then through the morning to criticize Pruitt and push for a last-minute delay of his confirmation. Part of their argument centered on an Oklahoma judge’s ruling late Thursday that Pruitt’s office must turn over thousands of emails related to his communication with oil, gas and coal companies. The judge set a Tuesday deadline for release of the emails, which a nonprofit group has been seeking for years.”

State Response

February 13, 2017 | The Boston Globe

“The plan was designed to comply with a landmark 2016 Supreme Judicial Court decision that requires specific limits on sources of greenhouse gases. But while the regulations might help the state curb emissions, they could cause electricity production to be diverted to less efficient power plants outside the state that might use more polluting energy sources, such as coal or oil, critics say.”

Environmentalists push for 100% renewable energy use in Massachusetts

February 13, 2017 | MassLive

“”We’re seeing in real ways the public’s desire in Western Massachusetts to forge ahead with a new generation renewable energy economy that provides more higher paying jobs, cleans our air, and protects our earth for future generations,” Linsky said.”

In Other Congressional News…

Republicans want EPA to investigate use of encrypted texts

February 14, 2017 | CNN

“”It is clear the new administration has created an environment where government scientists are feeling intimidated and fearful for their ability to continue to do their work without political interference,” said spokeswoman Kristin Kopshever. “That said, attempts to evade federal records requirements are unacceptable whether they take place at a federal agency or in the White House.””

Collins says she’ll vote against confirming Scott Pruitt to head EPA

February 15, 2017 | Portland Press Herald [Maine]

“Collins called Pruitt an accomplished attorney, but said his record raises several concerns. She pointed out that he has opposed and sued the EPA on “numerous issues that are of great importance to the state of Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”

“His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency’s critical mission to protect human health and the environment,” Collins said.”

Senate Dems plan all-night protest over Trump’s EPA pick

February 16, 2017 | The Hill

“Democrats blasted McConnell on Thursday for refusing to delay a vote on Pruitt. They wanted more time to wait for records from his time as Oklahoma attorney general requested more than two years ago.”

A Look Back

On his first day in office, Trump broke 34 promises

January 21, 2017 | ThinkProgress

“Trump promised to begin canceling billions in climate change spending for the United Nations on day one.

Therefore, on the first day of my term of office… We’re going to cancel billions in payments to the United Nations climate change programs, and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure. [Gettysburg, PA, 10/22/16]

Trump’s new administration had not announced any such cancellation on the first day. In the last days of the Obama administration, the State Department transferred $500 million in commitments to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund.”


Week 3

The Headlines

In Age of Trump, Scientists Show Signs of a Political Pulse

February 6, 2017 | The New York Times

“The president has yet to appoint a science adviser and has not responded to open letters calling on him to do so from science policy groups including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (whose president, Rush D. Holt, is a physicist and former congressman).

Few scientists have gone as far as Dr. Eisen, but other researchers are now undergoing a political awakening, contemplating what their role should be for at least the next few years.”

EPA Alumni Call for Senate to Reject Pruitt: ‘We Don’t Think He’s Qualified’

February 7, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“The letter echoes concerns raised in similar efforts by environmentalists, academics and environmental lawyers from Oklahoma about Pruitt’s close ties to the fossil fuel and agriculture industries, as well as his record of fighting EPA regulation.”

Groups sue to block Trump’s order on government regulations

February 8, 2017 | The Southern Illinoisan

“”This order imposes a false choice between clean air, clean water, safe food and other environmental safeguards,” Suh said.”

EPA Transition Leader, Longtime Foe of Regulation, to Stay on at Agency

February 8, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“Benton took the helm of the EPA transition last month, along with Washington State Sen. Doug Ericksen. Ericksen has been serving as the acting communications director for the agency transition. Meanwhile, Benton has been advising the EPA staff on the new administration’s policies and executive orders. That includes the Jan. 24 executive order directing federal agencies to expedite environmental reviews for certain infrastructure projects and a Jan. 30 executive order on reducing regulations.”

Trump’s energy inner circle takes shape

February 8, 2017 | E&E News

“President Trump is expected to soon fill key White House energy jobs — relying on Washington energy insiders and former staffers to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) to help shape his administration’s environmental agenda.”

Trump Administration Considering Shutting EPA’s Enforcement Office: Report

February 8, 2017 | The Huffington Post

“Cynthia Giles, who served as the EPA’s assistant administrator for the OECA under Obama, said the office includes staff with technical, engineering and litigation expertise, and that separating the work among various offices would “just make it much harder to do their jobs.”

“Moving enforcement to separate programs would really just be to weaken it and make it more subject to political pressure,” Giles told HuffPost Thursday.”

Good Luck Killing the EPA

February 8, 2017 | Bloomberg

“Americans still need environmental protection, Whitman warned. In 2013, the most recent year with complete data, 91,000 people died of causes related to bad air, almost three times the total deaths from car accidents. “This is real, people,” the former EPA administrator said in a Feb. 3 interview.”

EPA Staff Yanked From Alaska Summit as Trump Team Weighs In

February 9, 2017 | Bloomberg

“Staff from other federal agencies weren’t subject to any corresponding orders from Washington to pull back, according to Eilo. Employees from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State Department, Department of the Interior, Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Navy stayed on the agenda.”

Trump order will be hard to overturn — legal experts

February 9, 2017 | E&E News

“Beyond requiring agencies to scrap two rules for every new one, the January order established a regulatory budget by which the president determines how much agencies can spend on new rules each year. The budget for 2017 is zero dollars, meaning agencies must offset any new standards by repealing old ones.”

State Response

How will California battle climate change? A new proposal revs up debate over cap-and-trade program

February 9, 2017 | The Los Angeles Times

““With dark winds blowing westerly from D.C., the moment for California’s leadership has never been more urgent,” said Alex Jackson, a San Francisco-based lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “With the stakes as high as they are, and with the target already in statute, we hope and expect there to be broad support for continuing one of our most effective tools for reaching that milestone.””

In Other Congressional News

Republican Carbon Tax Proposal: Novel Climate Solution or Regulatory Giveaway?

February 9, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“The tax, collecting $40 for every ton of carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels, and escalating over time, would include a charge on imports and would generate enough revenue to pay substantial, regular dividend checks to individuals and households. In exchange, Congress would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of most powers to issue new regulations to control emissions, including a full repeal of the Clean Power Plan that the Obama administration wrote to govern power plants.”

Good To Know

Swedish climate minister appears to mock Trump administration with all-women photo

February 3, 2017 | The Hill

““It’s more that Sweden is a feminist government and this is a very important law that we just decided on. We need climate leadership in the world today. And to make the Paris agreement happen we need climate leadership. I would ask everyone to make their own interpretation.””

A Look Back

Trump Aides Prepare List of Early Energy Changes, Sources Say

January 20, 2017 | Bloomberg

“In the document, Trump highlights a commitment to clean-coal technology, which promises to cut pollution tied to burning the fossil fuel, and “to reviving America;’s coal industry, which has been hurting for too long.” That reprises Trump’s campaign promise to bring back coal mining jobs, in decline as environmental policies and competition from cheaper, cleaner natural gas have lessened electric utilities’ demand for the fossil fuel.”

Week 2

The Headlines

Allaying concerns, EPA lifts temporary freeze on grants to states

January 26, 2017 | USA Today

““We finished our review process,” said Ericksen, a GOP State Sen. from Washington who is temporarily acting as the agency’s spokesman. “As of now, nothing has been delayed. Nothing has been cut. There was simply a pause and everything’s up and running.””

EPA-Funded Scientists Share Their Concerns About the Trump Era

January 28, 2017 | Pacific Standard

““We already know that race is a major factor in predicting environmental quality,” Purifoy says, but understanding the detailed interactions between race and the environment “ultimately matters for the kinds of policies we pursue, such as reforms in county government to require more stringent land use planning and/or eliminating local government policies that create racial barriers to environmental justice.””

Trump’s Promise to Pay for Infrastructure With Fossil Fuel Revenue Rings Hollow

January 30, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“Among the fuzzy pledges President Trump has made in his energy plans, his idea to pay for a $1 trillion public infrastructure program with a bonanza of fossil fuel mining and drilling revenue stands out as particularly far-fetched.”

Trump wants to scrap two regulations for each new one adopted

January 30, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the executive order “absurd, imposing a Sophie’s Choice on federal agencies. If, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency wants to issue a new rule to protect kids from mercury exposure, will it need to get rid of  two other science-based rules, such as limiting lead in drinking water and cutting pollution from school buses?””

Green movement ‘greatest threat to freedom’, says Trump adviser

January 30, 2017 | The Guardian

“Myron Ebell, who has denied the dangers of climate change for many years and led Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until the president’s recent inauguration, also said he fully expected Trump to keep his promise to withdraw the US from the global agreement to fight global warming.”

In a dark climate comedy, Exxon’s former CEO is now secretary of state

February 1, 2017 | Mashable

“The final Senate vote was 56 to 43 in favor, with three Democrats and one independent joining Republicans in voting for him. No Republicans opposed Tillerson’s nomination.”

Donald Trump ‘taking steps to abolish Environmental Protection Agency’

February 1, 2017 | The Guardian

“Doing so would mean “we will be ceding global leadership of climate policy to China,” Ebell said after the meeting. “[But] I want to get rid of global climate policy, so why do I care who is in charge of it? I don’t care. They can take it as far as I’m concerned, and good luck to them.””

State Response

How States Can Step Up for Science

January 27, 2017 | Science Friday

“California Governor Jerry Brown talks about how states can take the lead on issues like climate change and clean energy. And a strategy for building an immunity to fake news.”

In Other Congressional News…

Republicans move to sell off 3.3m acres of national land, sparking rallies

January 31, 2017 | The Guardian

“The new piece of legislation would direct the interior secretary to immediately sell off an area of public land the size of Connecticut. In a press release for House Bill 621, Chaffetz, a Tea Party Republican, claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”.”

Florida Congressman Drafts Bill To ‘Completely Abolish’ The EPA

January 31, 2017 | The Huffington Post

““Our small businesses cannot afford to cover the costs associated with compliance, too often leading to closed doors and unemployed Americans,” Gaetz wrote. “It is time to take back our legislative power from the EPA and abolish it permanently.””

House to repeal Obama coal rule Wednesday

January 31, 2017 | The Hill

“The Interior Department’s stream protection rule could become just the second regulation in history — and the first in 16 years — to be repealed under the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to overturn regulations they disapprove of with a simple majority.”

Despite Hedging on Climate Change, Perry, Zinke Nominations Head for Senate Vote

January 31, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“Joining all committee Republicans to approve both nominees were Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Angus King, (I-Maine), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.) abstained on Zinke, saying he wanted more clarification from him on reports that he wants to move the management of national forests to the Department of Interior. Also breaking ranks with the Democrats were Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who voted against Zinke, but for Perry. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) voted for Zinke, but against Perry.”

Republicans will try a little-used tactic to kill five Obama regulations this week

February 1, 2017 | Vox

The methane waste rule. This Department of Interior regulation, finalized in November 2016, would require oil and gas companies to reduce methane leaks from operations on federal and tribal lands. Instead of just flaring it or letting it waft into the air, companies would have to capture the methane and sell it off. This rule was a component of Obama’s climate plan, which aimed to reduce emissions of methane — a powerful greenhouse-gas — from oil and gas drilling 40 percent by 2025. But the oil industry preferred this be regulated at the state level (which is typically looser).”

This lawmaker wants to ease rules on drilling in national parks, and conservationists aren’t happy.

February 1, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Gosar submitted a resolution Monday that threatens to repeal the National Park Service’s authority to manage private drilling for oil, gas and minerals at 40 national parks, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. Under what are known as the 9B rules, the Park Service, which controls the surface of natural parks, can decline drilling rights to parties that own resources beneath the surface if it determines that the operation would be an environmental threat.”

Republicans back off bill to sell 3.3m acres of public land after outcry

February 2, 2017 | The Guardian

““Once that bill was introduced, the hornet’s nest was kicked,” said Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, a group that supported public land rallies in opposition. “What happened last week was just a small fraction of the ire the sportsman community has been feeling.””

Coal rule killed by U.S. Congress, others near chopping block

February 2, 2017 | Reuters

“By a vote of 54-45, the Senate approved a resolution already passed in the House of Representatives to kill the rule aimed at keeping pollutants out of streams in areas near mountaintop removal coal-mining sites.”

Rep. Lamar Smith Launches New Assault on EPA’s ‘Secret Science’

February 2, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“The title of the hearing has a familiar ring: “Making the EPA Great Again.” But to scientific and environmental organizations, its echoes sound like an attack on public health and safety.”

Week 1

The Headlines:

Trump White House Distorts Wages Figure on First Day

January 20, 2017 | Climate Central

“The figure was based on a paper produced by a Louisiana State University finance professor in 2015 on behalf of a fossil fuel industry nonprofit. The paper, which was not peer reviewed, investigated potential economic impacts if all protected federal lands were opened to unlimited oil, gas and coal mining.”

All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website

January 20, 2017 | Vice Motherboard

“To reiterate: It is normal that the site is completely new; it is notable that climate change is not mentioned on any one of Trump’s new pages.”

Trump has replaced the White House climate change page with… a pledge to drill lots of oil

January 20, 2017 | Vox

“As the new site notes, Trump plans to push for more drilling of America’s “estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands.””

January 20, 2017 | Reuters

“The California plan includes an extension of the state’s controversial carbon cap-and-trade program and calls for the state’s oil refineries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.”

Climate Regulations Under a Watchful Internet Eye

January 23, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“Columbia has tracked climate change-related regulations since 2009, but this tool was developed in anticipation that the new administration would seek “to undo regulations to avoid dealing with climate change,” said Michael Burger, the center’s executive director.”

Donald Trump plans to ‘reform’ the way environmental agency uses science, report claims

January 23, 2017 | Independent

“”Unless major reforms of the agency’s use of science and economics are achieved, EPA will be able to return to its bad old ways as soon as an establishment administration takes office,” the document reads, according to the website Axios. The document was written by Myrion Ebell, the site claimed, who has aggressively opposed climate change activists and has been central in the Trump transition team.”

A Bad Day for the Environment, With Many More To Come

January 24, 2017 | The New Yorker, Bill McKibben 

“Reality gets plainer every day on a planet that just saw the hottest year ever recorded, where sea ice is at an all-time low, and where California’s epic drought has suddenly given way to epic flooding. History will judge the timing of Trump’s crusade with special harshness—it is, you might say, a last-gasp effort.”

January 24, 2017 | The Washington Post

“For now, it appears, that funding is on hold, casting a cloud of uncertainty over one of the agency’s core functions, as well as over the scientists, state and local officials, universities and Native American tribes that often benefit from the grants.”

January 24, 2017 | Earthjustice

“This move is legally questionable, at best. And based on what we know about Trump’s financial dealings  in the Dakota Access pipeline, it raises serious ethical concerns.”

Keystone XL, Dakota Pipeline Green-Lighted in Trump Executive Actions

January 24, 2017 | InsideClimate News

“The economics for finishing the Dakota Access pipeline are more favorable as the pipeline is already more than 90 percent complete.”

Wilbur Ross commits to protecting climate and weather research from censorship

January 24, 2017 | Mashable

“If confirmed, I intend to see that the Department provides the public with as much factual and accurate data as we have available. It is public tax dollars that support the Department’s scientific research, and barring some national security concern, I see no valid reason to keep peer reviewed research from the public.”

January 25, 2017 | The Guardian

“The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture have been placed under de facto gag orders by the Trump administration, according to documents obtained by news organizations.”

January 25, 2017 | Reuters

“”If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear,” one of the EPA staffers told Reuters, who added some employees were scrambling to save some of the information housed on the website, or convince the Trump administration to preserve parts of it.”

USDA lifts gag order: report

January 25, 2017 | The Hill

“After a report that the agency had told staff to stop releasing any “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” BuzzFeed reported that another memo was sent Tuesday night from a top official for the department’s Agricultural Research Service that the original order should not have been issued and “is hereby rescinded.””

January 25, 2017 | The Washington Post

““We’ll take a look at what’s happening so that the voice coming from the EPA is one that’s going to reflect the new administration,” he said.”

EPA Science Under Scrutiny By Trump Political Staff

January 25, 2017 | AP

“Asked specifically about scientific data being collected by agency scientists, such as routine monitoring of air and water pollution, Ericksen responded, “Everything is subject to review.””

What the hell is going on at the EPA right now?

January 26, 2017 | Vox

“But on another level, even if some of the early outrage has been overheated, it’s hardly a mystery why there’s a lot of dread and uncertainty about the EPA right now. You just have to look at what happened at the agency during the George W. Bush years — and also at what Trump’s team have explicitly said they want to do. The widespread fear that we might soon see a Trump “war on science” at the agency is hardly unfounded.”

January 26, 2017 | The Washington Post

“Several State Department Web pages housing individual Obama-era climate reports have also disappeared, including the 2014 U.S. Climate Action Report to the United Nations and several reports from the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group, among others. These reports can still be accessed through the archives.”

January 26, 2017 | NPR

“The TransCanada announcement came just two days after President Trump took executive actions to speed the approval process for both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.”

January 26, 2017 | The Guardian

“The comments by Spicer – who has proved himself capable of delivering falsehoods from the press briefing podium – are at odds with a report from the Associated Press that employees at the Environmental Protection Agency were expressly banned from tweeting, issuing press releases or speaking with reporters by the administration.”

In other news…

Scientists Are Planning the Next Big Washington March

January 25, 2017 | Climate Central

““This is not a partisan issue. People from all parts of the political spectrum should be alarmed by these efforts to deny scientific progress,” Caroline Weinberg, a medical researcher who is helping organize the march, said. “Scientific research moves us forward and we should not allow asinine policies to thwart it.””

Mysterious Twitter account steps forward to lead the National Park resistance 

January 26, 2017 | Mashable

“While the Trump administration continues to play whack-a-mole with rebellious National Parks Service Twitter accounts, a new account has sprung up to fill the void and lead this new resistance online.”