THIS WEEK IN CLIMATE (IN)ACTION – May 25, 2018

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

 

“Creating a new energy future was a promise I made, and it will be a promise kept.”

–Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey boldly laid out his vision for a 100 percent clean energy state by 2050

 

“What I personally find ironic about this is that they can’t seem to find the time to perform the basic functions of government, such as nominating the director of the National Park Service after not having one for a year and a half. Yet they seem to find the time to enjoy all the perks that come with the office.”

–Don Hellmann, who spent 22 years at the National Park Service, calls out Secretary Ryan Zinke for giving his friends VIP tours of national monuments while neglecting his actual responsibilities

 

 

LCV IN THE NEWS:

 

E&E: LCV’s Gene Karpinski guards the ‘green firewall’ in Congress

Grist: These Republicans say they’re ready for climate action. Can we believe them?

E&E: Democratic bill would prevent oil and gas drilling in ANWR

 

 

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:

 

Insider NJ: Praise for Governor Murphy’s Actions to Advance New Jersey’s Clean Energy Economy

Wisconsin Gazette: ‘Walker’s Wisconsin’ details governor’s ‘extreme anti-conservation agenda’

KNBA: As Heard on Morning Line: Solarized Anchorage

 

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COUNTDOWN TO PARIS: We are just days away from the one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s decision to recklessly withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. LCV released a report this week illustrating the surge of state and local government leaders who are filling the leadership vacuum by advancing a clean energy future in their states.

State and local leaders from around the country joined LCV on a press call to launch the report.

 

WA Governor Jay Inslee: “Across the country, clean, renewable energy has become an unstoppable force.  People want clean air, a healthy environment, and the jobs and investments that come with building the next generation economy, and nothing the federal government chooses to do can change that,” “States, cities, and businesses are all stepping up., and showing the nation and the world that ambitious climate action is achievable.”

 

CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra.“Climate change is the most important global environmental issue of our time. At stake is nothing less than the kind of world we want our children to grow up in. Do we want them to experience record-high temperatures, droughts, rising sea levels, and poor air quality? President Trump says ‘yes.’ In California, we don’t wake up in the morning looking to pick a fight with his Administration, but we will do what is necessary to defend our values, our families, and our planet. We didn’t become the fifth-largest economy in the world by spectating.”

 

Eau Claire City Council Member Kate Beaton: “When President Trump announced his intentions to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, I knew that it was up to us on the local level to do more to reduce our contribution to fossil fuel usage and climate change. It was my hope in passing the renewable energy goals in Eau Claire that other communities in Wisconsin, the Midwest, and the nation would follow suit. I actually think it’s pretty amazing that such a negative decision on the federal level has inspired local communities to more aggressively seek clean energy solutions that work for them.”

 

FOLLOW THROUGH: On Wednesday, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a landmark clean energy bill, that includes one of the strongest commitments to renewable energy in the country.  During the bill signing, Murphy also announced a new executive order that directs state agencies to update their energy supply plans to reflect the state’s commitment to 100 percent clean energy.  We applaud the state on its leadership in environmental protection and the continued efforts of our affiliate, the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

 

OUR TAKE: From the desk of Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the NJ LCV: “The clean energy bill is a great down payment on Gov. Murphy’s commitment to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. I couldn’t be more thrilled the governor took this initiative one step further today by signing an executive order to update the energy master plan toward the 100 percent clean energy goal.”

 

BLACKLISTED: For two days in a row this week, Pruitt’s EPA denied reporters entrance to a summit on toxic PFAS chemicals, which have been showing up in drinking water across the country.. Instead of letting reporters freely  cover the event, the EPA chose to keep the summit under wraps, selectively granting access to a handful of outlets and even forcibly ejecting a journalist on Tuesday.

 

POLITICO RESPONDS: From Politico Editor Carrie Budoff Brown: “The summit was focused on an important public health crisis that has affected drinking water supplies across the country, and chemicals that are present in the bloodstreams of nearly all Americans. We believe it is important that the news media have access to the entirety of this discussion to keep the public informed with fact-driven, accountability coverage of this important issue — we would much rather be writing about the agency’s efforts to address this health problem than about reporters being excluded.”

 

EPA’s veil of secrecy went beyond reporters though– they even barred Congressional staff from attending the event. Congressman Kildee, who represents Flint, Michigan said his staff was not allowed into the summit on Wednesday, In an op-ed published Thursday in the Detroit Free Press, Kildee called Pruitt’s mounting pattern of secrecy “deeply concerning” and rightly points out that he’s absolutely failing at EPA’s mission to protect public health and our clean water.  

 

SLIVER OF GOOD NEWS: Turns out that Pruitt is as good at rolling back environmental protections as he is at staying out of ethical trouble. An in-depth look at his recent anti-regulatory activities reveals that legal challenges and procedural snags have held Pruitt back from his full destructive potential. Basing rulings off industry-provided reports and failing to provide technical language about what would take the place of his repeals, the embattled EPA chief’s missteps may reveal that he is not as effective as Trump has so far believed — which could leave Pruitt in jeopardy of getting fired.

 

NPR SAYS PRUITT FAILS TO PROVIDE CERTAINTY TO BUSINESS: According to Pruitt, his mission is to provide companies with “regulatory certainty” — or an expectation of how the rules that govern a given industry will be written in the short-term and long-term so they can prepare accordingly. However, Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA has delivered anything but certainty. NPR noted that farmers, manufacturers and retailers have faced greater uncertainty under the current regime, as they never know which regulations will be gutted next. This is extraordinarily costly and ends up doing more harm than good for business — not to mention the damaging effects the rollbacks have on our clean air and water.

 

BACK AT IT: Just when you think that Pruitt has blown enough of our hard-earned tax dollars, he does it again. The wasteful EPA chief spent nearly $10,000 on redecoration costs for his office — adding lavish touches like Smithsonian art and a refurbished desk. It’s worth noting that this is nearly double the congressionally mandated limit for office redecoration, which requires explicit approval for any expenditures above $5,000.

 

GET READY FOR NOVEMBER: Some are starting to speculate that Pruitt’s continued scandals are going to cost Republicans in the elections this fall. According to Paul Bledsoe, former director of communications for the White House Climate Change Task Force, abuse of tax dollars and boundless corruption may energize a coalition of voters to remove the GOP lawmakers who refuse to hold the EPA chief accountable. With any luck, by next January, we’ll have more representatives in Washington who will demand Pruitt’s immediate resignation — if he somehow still hasn’t quit in disgrace by then.

 

ZINKE DECLARES OPEN SEASON: Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Department of the Interior is lifting restrictions on hunting  bears and wolves on federal lands, allowing practices that people around the country deem as too cruel. Hunters could be allowed to kill wolves and their pups in their dens as well as sic dogs on black bears. This is a gross and unnecessary move and further demonstrates how Zinke is desperate to cozy up to special interests.

 

CAT’S OUT OF THE BAG: A report on climate change that Zinke reportedly tried to bury was finally released after over a year delay. The report, published by the National Parks Service, detailed the threat rising sea levels pose to our national parks — a conclusion that Zinke opposed due to its references to the human role in climate change. As such, Zinke ordered his political appointees to review the report before publication, leading to a long-term delay and attempts to scrub the climate change references from the document. Many have described this instance as government censorship, and we couldn’t agree more.

 

SENATORS — SAY NO!: We’re strongly urging senators to reject the nomination of Judge Patrick Wyrick to the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. An old friend of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Wyrick worked with Pruitt to undermine the EPA’s ability to address the protection of public lands, the preservation of clean air, and the looming threat of climate change. He is not deserving of this bench and will only use it to make our communities less healthy.

 

OUR STATEMENT: From LCV President Gene Karpinski: “We simply cannot afford for the Senate to confirm a lifetime appointment of someone who helped lead the charge against the biggest step our country has ever taken to address the climate crisis.”

 

SENATORS – SAY NO, AGAIN!: We also strongly urged senators to reject the nomination of Judge Britt Grant to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. As Solicitor General of Georgia, Grant wanted to weaken the Endangered Species Act. She also has a track record of attacking voting rights and immigrants, and should therefore be unqualified to be handed a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

 

 

COMING UP:

 

JUNE 1  – One year anniversary of Donald Trump’s decision to recklessly withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement.

SEPTEMBER 30 – Expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s best parks program

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