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ENVIRONMENT POLICIES, ANALYSIS, AND RESOURCES

The Environment Domain tracks and reports on policies that deal with the use of natural resources, climate change, energy emissions, pollution, and the protection of endangered species. This domain tracks policies emanating from the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Department, and the Interior Department. Our Principal Analyst is Megan Toney who can be reached at megan@usresistnews.org.

Latest Environment Posts

 

SCOTUS Nominee Could Be A Scorcher for the Environment

On June 27th Justice Anthony Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court announced his retirement, and on July 9th President Donald Trump announced his candidate for replacement. Trump’s pick, former Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Brett Kavanaugh, has an unkind track record towards environmental regulations.

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Pruitt Resigns, Becoming Trump’s Fifth Cabinet Member to Call It Quits

Amid months of investigation for as many as 19 scandals, Scott Pruitt resigned his post as the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, July 5th. Many rejoiced that this enabler of deregulation had finally given up his position, but the administration has a very different story. Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation in a tweet where he thanked Pruitt for his service and congratulated him on an “outstanding job

read more

Making a Splash in Trumpland

In 2010, after the deadliest and most expensive offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the “Deepwater Horizon” spill, former U.S. president, Barack Obama, implemented a policy to ensure that a conservation council would advocate conservation and sustainable use of US waters. The Bureau of Ocean management called Obama’s policy,

read more

Trump Backpedals on Coal

On May 29th, the Trump Administration circulated a confidential document, which was then leaked by an outside source, proposing that the American government intervene within American energy markets. As a result, the program has prompted Donald Trump to order Energy Secretary Rick Perry to “prepare immediate steps” to halt the closures of unprofitable coal and nuclear plants throughout the United States.

read more

EPA Set to Rollback Automotive Standards

Brief #32---Environmental Policy Update June 5, 2018 On Thursday, May 31, the EPA formally submitted its proposal to repeal the climate change rules that would require auto makers to double fuel efficiency to an average of 50 miles per gallon by model year 2025....

read more

Axing NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System

Houston, NASA appears to be having a problem. In 2012, now-president, Donald Trump famously tweeted that, “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese” and alleged that the phenomenon of climate change was a conspiracy to undermine American manufacturing.

read more

Zinke Faces the U.S. Senate

Earlier this month, Department of the Interior head, Ryan Zinke, a self-declared geologist,  faced a senate hearing to address his proposed 2019 budget. However, this hearing may expand to include his numerous scandals.

read more
Trump Rolls Back Endangered Species Act

Trump Rolls Back Endangered Species Act

Brief #38—Environment

Policy Summary
The Trump administration has rolled back the Endangered Species Act, a policy that has been in place for the last 45 years having been put in place by Richard Nixon. In the past, the Act has protected a laundry list of endangered species, such as the Pacific walrus, Mexican gray wolf, finback whale, and many others from ranching, oil drilling and logging in their natural habitats so that any at-risk species would not be further threatened. Now, the White House has put forward over a dozen petitions, some of which that have been voted on in congress, which would, in essence, undermine or delegitimize pre-existing threats to threatened species. The policy decision come as a great attack on both environmental conservation efforts and animals.

Analysis
This policy decision only further re-affirms the current Administration’s commitment to deregulation in the name of fossil fuels. Department of the Interior Chief of Staff, David Bernhardt, announced to the public that he expects both, “crazy” and grateful responses for the newest changes. The thanks he anticipates is undoubtedly from the oil and gas lobby, for whom he previously worked. And already the decisions are causing calamity, as the Department of the Interior has already requested an expedited review to renew their lease of part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The reason? Oil and gas drilling, of course, as the government hopes to acquire the land for lease now that the regulations are being scaled back without intervention.

Engagement Resources:

  • World Wildlife Fund — a conservation organization that protects endangered species all over the world.
  • Defenders of Wildlife – Another organization that works to preserve and protect endangered species worldwide.

This brief was compiled by Zoe Stricker. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact zoe@USResistnews.org.

Photo by Marek Szturc

SCOTUS Nominee Could Be A Scorcher for the Environment

SCOTUS Nominee Could Be A Scorcher for the Environment

Brief #36—Environment

Summary
On June 27th Justice Anthony Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court announced his retirement, and on July 9th President Donald Trump announced his candidate for replacement. Trump’s pick, former Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Brett Kavanaugh, has an unkind track record towards environmental regulations. While serving as a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh notoriously promoted industry over the environment, particularly with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. Judge Kavanaugh frequently heard cases regarding the Environmental Protection Agency, and he, was rarely an advocate of the organization, often debating that Congress’s authority should supersede that of the Agency’s. This also summarizes Kavanaugh’s general political philosophy—that Congress should wield more power than that of an agency–but Congress has not contributed to the passage of a major environmental law since the Clean Air Act of 1990. More still, Kavanaugh has dissented multiple times on matters relating to The Clean Air Act, favoring industry regulation over the EPA’s.

Analysis
Kavanaugh’s proposed appointment comes at a time when matters of the environment have become more visible to communities around the country, as there have never been so many Americans who believe that climate change exists and is caused by human activity. In Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois, the gas station empire belonging to Vice President Pence’s family has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in oil spill cleanups across the three states.  And after 4 years, the town of Flint, Michigan still does not have clean water. And in Pennsylvania, 2 protesters with the group “Mama Bear Brigade” were arrested for demonstrating the construction of a pipeline project that would close a local elementary school. Each of these incidents lay the groundwork for cases that may one day appear before the Supreme Court, one in which Kavanaugh might one day serve.

Should an anti-environment court be in the works, states and local governments will need to do more to prevent judicial oversight. So perhaps a pinch of optimism can be sprinkled over the decision of the hyper-industrial city of Pueblo, Colorado to become more green, and for the fact that California met its 2020 emissions goal 2 years ahead of schedule. In the meantime, let’s keep our eyes on the outcome of the lawsuit filed by former-allies of David Schnare, who had sued climate scientists over their work. And hope Kavanaugh reads The Onion if he takes the bench.

Engagement Resources:

  • Friends of the Earth – A non-profit activist group that organizes activists to fight against environmental injustices. Their petitions and campaigns have had large impacts on corporate responsibility and legal outcomes.
  • Judging the Environment – a non-profit watchgroup which tracks federal judicial nominations of supreme courts.

This brief was compiled by Zoe Stricker. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact zoe@USResistnews.org.

Pruitt Resigns, Becoming Trump’s Fifth Cabinet Member to Call It Quits

Pruitt Resigns, Becoming Trump’s Fifth Cabinet Member to Call It Quits

Brief #34—Environment

Policy Summary
Amid months of investigation for as many as 19 scandals, Scott Pruitt resigned his post as the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, July 5th. Many rejoiced that this enabler of deregulation had finally given up his position, but the administration has a very different story. Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation in a tweet where he thanked Pruitt for his service and congratulated him on an “outstanding job.” Trump made no mention of the various scandals, and said that Pruitt himself decided to resign so as not to be a distraction. Pruitt also cited the “unrelenting attacks” that had “taken a toll” on his family in his letter of resignation. Other aides have stepped down in support of Pruitt. However, Pruitt’s resignation comes in the midst of 13 federal inquiries into his spending and management decisions, including security and travel expenses, a $43,000 soundproof phone booth, barring certain scientists from applying for grants, a $50 a night condo deal from a lobbyist, firing of personnel for questioning these practices, and pay raises for those deemed loyal. These investigations will continue despite his resignation.  Andrew Wheeler, the recently Senate confirmed deputy to Scott Pruitt, will take on the role of EPA Secretary.

Analysis
While Pruitt’s exit has been celebrated, he left behind quite a mess and has lost the trust of taxpayers and personnel alike. His exorbitant spending showed a complete disregard for the taxpayer, and this will continue due to all the investigations and court proceedings pending. Perhaps even more troubling, is the lack of support for whistleblowers within the EPA. Watchdog agencies and journalists have worked hard to keep tabs on all of Pruitt’s actions, but received little reaction from the powers that be. In addition, Pruitt has managed to roll back significant amounts of legislation to protect our country and curb the toxins that may be our demise. Pruitt’s acting replacement, Andrew Wheeler, has a history as an energy industry lobbyist with Murray Energy and connections with other coal and energy lobbyists like Xcel Energy and Energy Fuel Resources, Inc. Many fear that his years in the industry will make him a more effective implementer of Trump’s environmental agenda, and that it will occur more quietly than under Pruitt. He will serve as the acting secretary until Trump nominates a new Secretary that must be confirmed by the Senate.

Resistance Resources

    • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – a charity collective of lawyers and scientists who defend and protect the environment from pollution and corporate greedContact
      This brief was compiled by Megan Toney. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Megan@USResistnews.org

Photo by: Thomas Richter

Making a Splash in Trumpland

Making a Splash in Trumpland

Brief #34—Environment

Summary
In 2010, after the deadliest and most expensive offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the “Deepwater Horizon” spill, former U.S. president, Barack Obama, implemented a policy to ensure that a conservation council would advocate conservation and sustainable use of US waters. The Bureau of Ocean management called Obama’s policy, “the most aggressive and comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight in U.S. history,” as the policy sought to effectively protect large bodies of water from environmental hazard such as oil spills. President Trump is now rolling back that plan with an executive order in order to “[roll] back excessive bureaucracy created by the previous administration.” In the new policy, states will be given much more authority on how to manage offshore oil and gas drilling, while also being able to prioritize regional business interests first and foremost. This comes as a massive rollback to the Obama-era plan, which had sought to limit where and how energy companies could drill for offshore energy.

Analysis
The impact of the Trump administration’s decision to rollback Obama-era ocean protections are as significant as they are dangerous. The policy allows states to prioritize business interests in natural resource extraction over conservation, which makes it likely for states to engage in this practice in order to bolster their individual economies, which too will widen pathways to further destruction. As climate scientists have proven, damage to the ocean—otherwise known as the world’s largest ecosystem—only reduces its possibility to remove carbon from the atmosphere and generate oxygen for living organisms, the supply of which is vital to human survival. The rollback, too, comes on the heels of FEMA ending funding for more than 1,700 Puerto Ricans and Americans displaced by Hurricane Maria, a disaster which occurred as a consequence of climate change, and made catastrophic by insufficient policy provisions. More still, a recent book put forward by climate reporter, Elizabeth Rush, suggests that as sea levels rise, Florida is at risk being flooded, a scenario which would wipe out and/or force its population to migrate outside of the state. The potential scenario in Southern California’s coastal communities does not fare much better, as scientists anticipate losing 130 feet of sea-cliffs as water levels rise. Despite this, it does not appear that the Trump administration intends to prioritize the environment in future policy-making decisions, already proposing to rollback another Obama-era policy protecting smaller enclaves of water from pollution. Let’s hope that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort club in Florida won’t have to flood in order for his administration to review its environmental priorities.

Engagement Resources:

  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – a charity collective of lawyers and scientists who defend and protect the environment from pollution and corporate greed.
  • Marine Megafauna Foundation – a marine research group that brings scientific discovery to the government and the public in order to create effective environmental protections.

This brief was compiled by Zoe Stricker. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact zoe@USResistnews.org

Trump Backpedals on Coal

Trump Backpedals on Coal

Brief #33—Environment

Summary
On May 29th, the Trump Administration circulated a confidential document, which was then leaked by an outside source, proposing that the American government intervene within American energy markets. As a result, the program has prompted Donald Trump to order Energy Secretary Rick Perry to “prepare immediate steps” to halt the closures of unprofitable coal and nuclear plants throughout the United States. The recent bail out prioritizes the interests of corporate, big coal and nuclear plants, while also temporarily securing the jobs of workers in the industry. Prominent financial analysts have consistently reported  that coal mines are neither economical nor efficient and estimate that the coal bailout will benefit corporations far more than energy consumers, who are likely to see their electric bills surge as a result. Yet, the lobbying by corporations such as FirstEnergy Corp. and Murray Energy Co. have suggested that it is in “the public interest” to keep these plants open.

Analysis:
One of Trump’s major campaign promises was to help the coal industry, and in effect its workers. This pledge, along with Trump’s allegiance to certain corporations, also gives rise to the coal bailout that many environmentalists have been swift to condemn. The decision, which is said to be in the name of those working in the coal industry is at odds with the government’s failure to properly fund health coverage for coal miners afflicted with black lung disease. The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which was founded by the government in 1982 and currently helps 15,000 miners with their medical bills and living expenses, is nearly $4 billion dollars in debt and its budget is expected to be cut 55% more by the end of this year. More still, the decision made by the Republican president to aid failing coal plants does contradict the advocacy efforts of several other Republican leaders, who favor solar energy due to cost-efficiency, primarily. Failing coal plants like Xcel Energy in Colorado, recently revealed a plan to replace two retiring coal plans with clean energy, giving rise to the growing national effort to support green energy.

Emissions from greenhouse gases such as coal, are said to be responsible for climate change, and the environmental ramifications of the industry are continuing to spark uproar worldwide. The existence of a Chinese coal plant located on a UNESCO-protected island in Kenya recently incited major protests in the capital and is thought to be the “first anti-coal demonstration in Nairobi”. These sentiments have also reverberated across the world to the United States, where thousands of members of the Poor People’s Campaign have been arrested over the last 40 days for their activism in state capitols, arguing that the effects of climate change disproportionately affect the poor. And while the coal battle appears uphill, many reports suggest that the effort to save coal plants is ultimately futile, due to their untenability in the face of sustainable green energy.

Engagement Resources:

  • Beyond Coal – is a product of the Environmental advocacy group, The Sierra Club, which organizes action events and petitions, while also publicizing information regarding pollution due to coal
  • Poor People’s Campaign – an advocacy group created during the Civil Rights Movement, promoting the fighting of “poverty not the poor”

This brief was compiled by Zoe Stricker. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact zoe@USResistnews.org.

EPA Set to Rollback Automotive Standards

EPA Set to Rollback Automotive Standards

Brief #32—Environmental Policy

Update June 5, 2018
On Thursday, May 31, the EPA formally submitted its proposal to repeal the climate change rules that would require auto makers to double fuel efficiency to an average of 50 miles per gallon by model year 2025. Co-authored by the EPA and the Department of Transportation (DoT), the proposal contains eight options for the revision, with the preferred option being a freeze of fuel economy standards at the 2020 level for cars, S.U.V.s and lighter trucks. Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Registrar, it will be open for public comment before coming into effect.  The DoT also reversed a requirement for states to track the amount of Carbon Emissions, effective at the end of June. This has set up a legal battle between the EPA and thirteen states, with a lawsuit filed by California and twelve others. These thirteen states have sued saying that are allowed to enforce the stricter Obama era rules, despite Federal changes. With 30-40% of the market, this could result in two separate auto markets, and the dual guidelines would create an even larger regulatory burden for automakers than the Obama-era standards. Some EPA officials say that the revision will not allow states to require stricter fuel standards than the Federal mandate, but that it does not intend to completely reject the states’ rights to enforce different standards via waivers. However, the Trump Administration has vocally supported undoing state standards and vowed to “take California out of the driver’s seat.”

Policy Summary
Earlier this month Pruitt announced another step in Trump’s “regulatory agenda” with the plan to lessen automotive regulations on emissions and fuel economy. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards were revised in 2010 to require a minimum fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles to the gallon (double the current typical average)  by model year 2025.  Pruitt has promised these regulations will be replaced by a new set developed in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These new regulations have not yet been developed. Pruitt has also noted that California specifically has unreasonable standards. Various CA politicians immediately responded that they would hold their state to higher standards and have recently taken legal action along with 17 other states. [Correction 6/5/2018: While 18 states urged Trump to rethink his position on fuel standards, only 13 states are officially a part of the lawsuit.]

Analysis
While the Obama Era regulations have not yet been replaced, there is the expectation that the new set of rules will drastically decrease the existing requirements. The EPA has made it clear that it views the Obama Era rules as a regulatory burden and that dispensing with the rules will allow automotive companies to produce more affordable vehicles. Before this announcement was made on April 2, 2018, the Department of Transportation announced that it would not enforce the associate fines for failing to meet the CAFE standards, unofficially nullifying the regulations. Many environmental agencies are concerned about the implications of the rollback as it pertains to global warming. In the opinion of many scientists, fuel efficiency and emissions requirements are the best way to tackle climate change. Decreased pollution and decreased oil usage on a national scale would be significant. However, Pruitt has made his loyalties very clear with his rollback announcement location: A car dealership in Northern Virginia. Meetings were held in the Oval Office with major automakers within weeks of Trump’s Inauguration about these impending rules, and the Auto Alliance stated in a regulatory filing in February that climate science cannot be fully trusted.

Engagement Resources


This brief was compiled by Megan Toney. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact megan@usresistnews.org.

Photo by Jesse Collins

Axing NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System

Brief # 31—-Environmental Policy

Summary

Houston, NASA appears to be having a problem. In 2012, now-president, Donald Trump famously tweeted that, the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese” and alleged that the phenomenon of climate change was a conspiracy to undermine American manufacturing. It is unclear whether or not President Trump still stands by this particular accusation but his administration did recently decide to try to dismantle a climate change program within NASA. The program, formally known as the “Carbon Monitoring System” has been tasked with scientifically monitoring the earth’s temperature and recently found that 2017 was the second-hottest year on record. The program’s annual budget of $10 million is relatively small compared to the many other multibillion dollar projects going on inside of NASA, so it would appear that maintaining costs are not the problem. Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center–a climate change think tank–argued that the program is a target of the Trump administration due to its affiliation with the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the information it has reported about greenhouse gases. Duffy added that the administration’s move was a “blow to climate science.” The decision came just a day after NASA announced that “humans are causing massive changes in location of water around the world”.

Analysis

Despite the Trump Administration’s decision to axe the Carbon Monitoring system, a U.S. House of Representatives panel moved to restore something like it in a bipartisan vote. The House appropriations panel unanimously approved to fund and create a “climate monitoring system,” a NASA program with an annual budget of $10 million per year. And the program’s objective would be essentially identical to that of the Carbon Monitoring system. More still, former Republican congressman Jim Bridenstine, who is now a NASA administrator recently announced that he accepts mainstream climate science, a subject which he had denied the veracity of throughout his tenure in congress. He is one of the Trump administration’s few appointees to publicly acknowledge the legitimacy of climate science. In the midst of this however, a former NASA employee has spoken out about the changing culture of “fear and anxiety” at NASA, alleging that concerns about the survival of the institution are affecting their public communications about climate science.

Engagement Resources

The League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit organization working to make climate change addressed in all levels of politics, created a climate science scorecard that provides information about how lawmakers regard various environmental issues.

Columbia Law School at Columbia University has created the Climate Deregulation Tracker, which allows the public to monitor what decisions are being made by the executive branch with regard to climate change.

This Brief was submitted by USRESIST NEWS Analyst Zoe Stricker:

zoe@usresistnews.org

 

Update on Scott Pruitt’s  Investigation by Congress for Excess Spending, Secret Emails and Ethics Controversy

Environmental Policy – Brief 30

Letters from Congress Requesting Documentation for Investigation and Letter on Overdue Documents

Press Release from Oversight Committee Sent April 11, 2018

Update May 21, 2018

In late April, Scott Pruitt had a hearing on Capitol Hill regarding his various ethical controversies. Over the course of the two sessions, Pruitt did admit that he knew about the raises for two of his aides but little else, primarily placing blame on EPA aides and staff.  In his opening statement, Pruitt claimed that many of the accusations were either exaggerations or completely fabricated. A former aide has already told news outlets that Pruitt lied to Congress during these hearings. The response to Pruitt’s time on the Hill have been mixed, primarily along party lines. White House aides are prompting Trump to fire Pruitt and various Democrats are calling for his resignation. However, Republican members of Congress are aware that Pruitt is their best chance to pass legislation regarding environmental regulation. And so he stays.

Since the hearings, new potential ethics violations have come to lights, including meetings with the Heritage Foundation, plans to stage public debates, hiring additional private council, and another trip paid for by lobbyists. The EPA has attempted to keep records and documents from Congress, and emails have been discovered detailing EPA staff attempts to shield Pruitt from scrutiny and explain the necessity of his high security costs. Pruitt has continued to work on various rollbacks of Obama era legislation.

Summary

In letters sent to President Trump and the EPA Secretary Pruitt, the Oversight Committee of U.S. Congress requested documents from Secretary Pruitt as they investigate the myriad of controversies that have arisen around the EPA’s lead administrator. Pruitt is currently past the given deadline to  produce the documents, and the deadline has been extended to April 25, 2018. Another letter was written to Kevin Minoli, EPA’s Chief Ethics Officer, from the Office of Government Ethics asking him to participate in the investigations. The Government Accountability Office and the EPA’s Inspector General are also taking a look at records and requesting explanations. There have been rumblings of misconduct for quite a while, but these accusations nowballed once an aide came forward. The former aide, Kevin Chmielewski, was put on leave after questioning the Secretary’s spending habits. In addition to the extreme travel spending, Pruitt is under investigation by ethics committees for a discounted condo purchase from a lobbyist and the use of multiple undisclosed email addresses. Despite calls for his resignation and his 29 percent approval rating, many Republicans and businessman supported Pruitt and  his position, especially in light of the moderate that would most likely take his place.

Analysis

Spending: Most of Pruitt’s spending controversies revolve around his travel, security detail and bonuses for special hires. Citing death threats, Pruitt has booked exclusively first class travel and more exorbitant hotel accommodations than those recommended by the State Department for international travel.  Some of these destinations were based on personal travel rather than business, and Pruitt took many unjustified trips to his home state of Oklahoma.  Republican lawmakers have since disregarded Pruitt’s death threat reasoning for his extreme spending on travel and security.

Ethics: Pruitt has also approved extreme bonuses for loyal employees that were rejected by oversight committees, including a long-time lobbyist for the chemical industry. A coal lobbyist was just confirmed as his number two and an oil tycoon ran his re-election campaign.  Pruitt has gotten a long-term deal on a bedroom in a D.C. condo on a per-night basis from a health care lobbyist, although her husband has pending business with the EPA.

Emails: In another letter, the EPA’s Inspector General, Arthur Elkins, was asked to look into Pruitt’s three email accounts to make sure proper records were maintained. There is concern that Pruitt uses these additional email addresses to spread false information and conduct undocumented business.

Take Action

Read the full letters regarding the investigations into Pruitt: To Trump and Pruitt, To Elkins, To Minoli

Keep Track of the Pruitt Investigations on the Oversight Committee’s Website

This brief was compiled by Megan Toney. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact megan@usresistnews.org.

Zinke Faces the U.S. Senate

Brief # 31—-Environmental Policy

Summary

Earlier this month, Department of the Interior head, Ryan Zinke, a self-declared geologist,  faced a senate hearing to address his proposed 2019 budget. However, this hearing may expand to include his numerous scandals. The former Navy SEAL seems to have a pattern of travel fraud. In addition, reports show that he has nominated an oil industry lobbyist for the DOI regulatory rollback advisor, allowed trophy hunters to lead a panel governing animal imports, and failed to reveal his shares in a gun organization.  Zinke has managed to avoid public scrutiny, partially because of  the current investigations in and coverage of EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt.

Analysis

The Department of the Interior is in charge of managing the conservation of federal lands and natural resources, and Ryan Zinke was appointed as Secretary last year. While there is surprisingly little coverage on what ensued during Zinke’s recent hearing on May 10, 2018, there is an expectation that Zinke’s questionable behavior will be more thoroughly examined by the Senate. Prior to his role, Zinke was a state senator in Montana, giving rise to allegations that he has taken a pro-development stance in every state except Montana, possibly to save jobs. This may be in violation of the D.O.I.’s ethics rules. Furthermore, Zinke’s pattern of travel fraud is said to have cost taxpayers at least $84,000[1], with one instance of Zinke even charging the D.O.I. for he and his wife’s private security detail on a family vacation to Greece and Turkey. Theoretically, this laundry list of scandals could beg the question of whether or not Zinke is fit to lead the Department of the Interior, but given that no coverage has been applied to the matter, it appears that nothing has changed and all is running as it were.

Take Action

Get involved with the fight to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was created by congress in 1964 and is set to expire in September 2018. Check out the LWCF Coalition to become engaged

Keep checking in with the Sierra Club—the most influential grassroots conservation group in America–to stay up to date on many high-profile initiatives to protect the environment  

Learn more about the timeline of Zinke’s Ethics Scandals

Learn More about the Tension Between the DOI and EPA

This Brief was submitted by USRESIST NEWS Analyst Zoe Stricker:

zoe@usresistnews.org

[1] Costs compiled from The Intercept, Politico Media Matters and Climate Nexus

EPA Set to Rollback Automotive Standards

Environmental Policy – Brief 30

EPA Press Release on GHG Emission Standards

Summary

Earlier this month Pruitt announced another step in Trump’s “regulatory agenda” with the plan to lessen automotive regulations on emissions and fuel economy. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards were revised in 2010 to require a minimum fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles to the gallon (double the current typical average)  by model year 2025.  Pruitt has promised these regulations will be replaced by a new set developed in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These new regulations have not yet been developed. Pruitt has also noted that California specifically has unreasonable standards. Various CA politicians immediately responded that they would hold their state to higher standards and have recently taken legal action along with 17 other states.

Analysis

While the Obama Era regulations have not yet been replaced, there is the expectation that the new set of rules will drastically decrease the existing requirements. The EPA has made it clear that it views the Obama Era rules as a regulatory burden and that dispensing with the rules will allow automotive companies to produce more affordable vehicles. Before this announcement was made on April 2, 2018, the Department of Transportation announced that it would not enforce the associate fines for failing to meet the CAFE standards, unofficially nullifying the regulations. Many environmental agencies are concerned about the implications of the rollback as it pertains to global warming. In the opinion of many scientists, fuel efficiency and emissions requirements are the best way to tackle climate change. Decreased pollution and decreased oil usage on a national scale would be significant. However, Pruitt has made his loyalties very clear with his rollback announcement location: A car dealership in Northern Virginia. Meetings were held in the Oval Office with major automakers within weeks of Trump’s Inauguration about these impending rules, and the Auto Alliance stated in a regulatory filing in February that climate science cannot be fully trusted.

Engagement Resources

Read more about the lawsuit filed by California, et.al. against the EPA

Check out the NYT Graphics about Emissions

Read more about the Evaluation of the Obama Era rules by the EPA

This brief was compiled by Megan Toney. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact megan@usresistnews.org.

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