THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – April 27, 2018

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

“This is a blatant attack on science that undermines the EPA’s ability to protect our health and environment, akin to Big Tobacco’s attempt to hide the truth about smoking.”

–Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV Senior Vice President for Government Affairs gives a bold response to Pruitt’s latest attempt to limit science at the EPA

“If you are concerned about the climate crisis and you want to play a part in solving it, the single most meaningful thing you can do is to vote, participate, advocate for candidates whose positions reflect your values. It’s important to change the light bulbs, the windows and the technology and it’s important to change the laws and the policies.”

–Former Vice President Al Gore’s call-to-action delivered at Georgetown University on Monday

“Coal ash is a clear hazard to our public health and environment, yet this EPA is backing away from the safeguards it established to protect us against it, just as we’re starting to see the benefits the rule provides.”

–Madeleine Foote, LCV Legislative Representative, testified before the EPA and made the case for keeping coal ash safeguards in place

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

LA Times: Trump’s EPA proposes to block regulators from considering a wide range of scientific studies

Texas Tribune: LCV Op-ed: On Earth Day, judges matter

Colorado Politics: Environmentalists running TV ads calling out Cory Gardner over EPA secretary

Nevada Independent: Environmental groups blast Heller in new ad campaign for silence on Pruitt

The Hill: More than 100 groups call on Congress to oppose weakening national park protections

E&E News: Dems question nominee over anti-EPA remarks

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

LCV’s state affiliates are hard at work protecting the environment and fighting climate change in the states. Here’s what people are reading across the country:

Detroit News (MI): Industry experts, lobbyists could help decide DEQ rules

Wisconsin State Journal (WI): DNR approves pulling Lake Michigan water for Foxconn plant

Fox 17 (MI): ‘Retirement parties’ held for Enbridge’s Line 5

NBC Montana: Flathead brewery receives first ever sustainable brewing award

E&E: Lamborn scrambling to get on ballot

 

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PRESSURE ON PRUITT, STILL SET ON HIGH: As EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s saga starts to ferment, the smell is getting to more and more lawmakers who are calling for his removal. More scandals have been added to the pot, and more editorial boards are giving the swampy mix a stir. Here’s this week’s recipe for Pruitt disaster:

PAST THE EXPIRATION DATE: Before Pruitt testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday, a number of his key allies appeared to lose confidence in him, unable to ignore his ever-expanding list of scandals:

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS are growing frustrated at Pruitt’s attempts to wait out the storm, demanding that he provide answers to the questions raised by reports of misuse of taxpayer dollars and unethical behaviors in office.

THE WHITE HOUSE, TOO has walked back its support, encouraging Republicans to temper their defenses of Pruitt and declaring that the EPA chief will soon have to answer for these alleged ethics violations.

CHARRING HIS OWN: On Thursday, Pruitt visited congressional subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as House Appropriations Committee as part of a regular review of the EPA’s budget. But with scandals swirling, lawmakers pressed Pruitt on his unethical behavior, and he gave excuses for his countless lapses in judgement, failing, as usual, to take responsibility for his unprincipled leadership. Here’s how it all went down:

  • BEFORE: Pruitt was widely expected to lay the blame on members of his staff for many of the scandals plaguing his tenure at the EPA, according to strategic documents leaked to the New York Times.
  • DURING: Pruitt did just as suspected. He passed the blame of his unethical behavior to career EPA employees and only acknowledged nominal knowledge of some of his scandals. Here are 5 takeaways from the Washington Post.
  • AFTER: Pruitt can’t hide. More and more senators are turning into detractors, including Senators Ron Johnson, Susan Collins, and John Kennedy, all of whom raised concerns over Pruitt’s credibility and its impact on the EPA.

TURNING UP THE HEAT: Nearly 200 members of Congress have called on Pruitt to resign, but not Senators Dean Heller or Cory Gardner. They have remained silent. So, LCV, Nevada Conservation League, and Conservation Colorado have launched a $257,000 television and digital ad campaign urging both senators to get on board and support S.R. 473, which calls for Pruitt’s resignation.

FROM NCL’S ANDY MAGGI: “By failing to call for Scott Pruitt’s resignation, Heller is yet again showing that he is bought and paid for by corporate special interests and has no interest in representing Nevadans by standing up to the Trump administration’s toxic agenda.”

THE SECRET INGREDIENT: Despite denials, we now know for sure that the lobbyist husband of Pruitt’s landlord had business before the EPA, as confirmed by his firm’s filings. An EPA official confirmed that Pruitt and the lobbyist met in person to discuss spending on a Chesapeake Bay cleanup program — despite Pruitt’s adamant claim that the lobbyist “has no clients that have business before this agency.”

TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL: Senator Whitehouse took great issue with this serious conflict of interest: “It doesn’t get much swampier than an agency head getting a sweetheart deal on rent from a lobbyist with business before his agency, but someone lying about it afterwards does make it worse.”

SWEET DEALS PART II: A bombshell piece from the New York Times this week uncovered that back in Oklahoma in 2003, Pruitt received, from another lobbyist, a significant housing discount of roughly $100,000. It gets better: the house is co-owned by a shell company owned by Kenneth Wagner, an old friend and now top aide at the EPA. And the mortgage? That was issued by a local bank led by Albert Kelly, who was recently barred from working in finance due to a banking violation — Wagner now also works for Pruitt at the EPA.

ADD A PINCH OF TABLOID: Democratic lawmakers are concerned that Pruitt’s personal security chief, special agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, who has been employed at the EPA for over a decade, violated ethics rules during the 2016 elections by working on investigations for American Media Inc., the owner of the National Enquirer. It’s unclear whether Perrotta received proper approval to engage with this client, a client that allegedly coordinated with the Trump campaign to disparage his political opponents and help him win the election.

ED BOARDS, COURSE 2: More editorial boards are taking shots at the EPA chief for his unethical conduct and corrupt practices, reflecting the widespread public disgust spanning country. Check out the best lines from each:

WELCOME TO THE TEAM — San Francisco Chronicle: “Scott Pruitt’s only tenuous claim to environmental protection concerns a sort of wetland preservation — namely, his immense contributions to the ethical swamp President Trump promised to drain.”

BACK FOR MORE — Washington Post: “The more Mr. Pruitt’s past and present behavior comes to light, the swampier it looks. And this says nothing about the science-denying agenda he has pursued at the EPA. He should never have been tapped to lead the agency. Now that he has proved unethical as well as unwise, it is long past time for him to leave.”

DIGESTIF: The New Yorker saw Sunday as a not-so-happy Earth Day, questioning how we could celebrate the holiday while Pruitt still occupies the throne at the EPA.

A SERIES OF MIDNIGHT SNACKS: While Pruitt is playing defense, his EPA is playing offense, trying to rollback commonsense protections that safeguard the environment and our communities:

ATTACK ON SCIENCE: Pruitt’s new rule — deceptively marketed as a “transparency” measure, yet rolled out without press — would limit the science available to EPA policymakers, making it far more difficult to adequately protect our water, air and environment. Many safeguards rely on groundbreaking studies that, under this rule, would be disqualified because the raw data includes privacy restrictions. Make no mistake: this is a major threat to all of the EPA’s public health protections and we’ll fight it with everything we’ve got.

ATTACK ON OUR HEALTH: The EPA is planning on rolling back commonsense safeguards that govern the disposal of toxic coal ash while providing power plants with a free pass to pollute our water and endanger our families. Our own Madeleine Foote testified before the EPA this week to urge that the safeguards remain intact.

IN OTHER, CLIMATE-RELATED NEWS…

PROTECT OUR LANDS: To mark National Park Week, LCV and a coalition of 122 organizations representing a variety of people, including LGBT, labor, women, disabilities, civil rights, Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American and Native American voices sent a letter to Congress urging them to protect our public lands from Trump’s continued assaults on our national treasures.

OH NO, POMPEO: On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as our new Secretary of State. Earlier this week, LCV urged senators to oppose the nomination, citing his “anti-environmental record, climate science denial, preference for war over diplomacy, and hostility to human rights,” which should have been disqualifying.

ENTER MACRON: French President Emmanuel Macron spoke before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, addressing in his speech the importance of acting immediately on climate change. With his comments, he took aim at Trump and congressional Republicans — many of whom deny the existence of climate change and many more who refuse any sort of action.

CHEERS — MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Michael Bloomberg is, again, stepping up big-time, offering $4.5M to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to make up for the cuts to funding from Washington Republicans’ refusal to act on the climate threat. The support is part of a larger effort by cities, businesses, and philanthropists to keep the United States at the forefront of climate leadership — despite a government hostile to the cause. We’re thankful for Bloomberg’s helping hand and call on more activism to keep our environment healthy and safe.

 

COMING UP:

WEEK OF APRIL 30 – Congress on recess

SEPTEMBER 30 – Expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, America’s best conservation program

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