Your weekly resource to learn what the environmental movement is saying about the news of the day and the political fight of our generation. Be sure to follow LCV on Facebook and Twitter.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“By proposing more giveaways to drilling, mining, and other corporate interests, Secretary Zinke’s report shows that this administration will stop at nothing to help their polluter allies profit – even if it means going beyond their legal authority and ignoring outdoor enthusiasts, local tribes, and millions of public comments.”
— LCV Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld on Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendations for further changes to national monuments
“Republicans in Congress must remove this underhanded assault on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from the final federal budget bill. Generations of Americans are relying on them to do what’s right. They are watching them.”
— Former New Jersey Governor and Bush EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman on attempts to approve drilling in the Arctic Refuge as a rider to the tax bill
“Every action Scott Pruitt has taken since he took over the EPA has been a cynical attempt to protect polluters’ profits at the expense of our health.”
— LCV Legislative Representative Sara Jordan ahead of Scott Pruitt’s first appearance in front of Congress as EPA administrator
LCV IN THE NEWS:
Bloomberg: Trump to Shrink Utah Monuments Holding Artifacts, Minerals
Univision: Trump abre la puerta a la explotación de espacios protegidos con la reducción de dos monumentos nacionales en Utah
Yahoo: ‘They’ve threatened your hearts’: Trump shrinks two national monuments in Utah
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:
Las Vegas Patch (NV): Gold Butte Supporters Ready To Fight Trump Administration
Western Slope Now (CO): Trump Plans To Shrink Two of Utah’s National Monuments
Hartford Courant (CT): Connecticut Schools Moving Toward Propane-powered Buses
The Times Herald (MI): Activists say state needs more protection from invaders, not less
NM Political Report (NM): NM supporters of cleaner school buses to rally for lawsuit windfall
Maine Public Radio (ME): Collins Draws Ire From Conservation Groups Over Vote On Senate Tax Bill, Allowing Arctic Drilling
SIREN: TRUMP SLASHES PROTECTIONS FOR OUR LANDS: In a speech in Utah earlier this week, Donald Trump announced his decision to revoke millions of acres of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The decision is the single largest attack on parks and public lands in our nation’s history – going beyond the administration’s legal authority and ignoring millions of public comments in opposition. Trump and his administration are moving full steam ahead with their plans to undermine our nation’s natural heritage and threaten the outdoor recreation industry. Make no mistake about it – an attack on one national park or monument is an attack on all.
BUSINESS BACKLASH: Environmental allies and outdoor retailers alike are fighting back against the shameful decision. Patagonia CEO Yvon Chouinard told CNN the company is filing a lawsuit, noting that this was the largest elimination of protected land in American history, and that the United States has comparatively less protected lands and national parks than other countries such as Costa Rica and Chile.
SHADY SCOTT PRUITT GETS WATCHDOG INVESTIGATION: After numerous reports of favoritism towards industry and conflicts of interest – not to mention the private and chartered flights and extravagant phone booths all paid for on the taxpayer dime – the EPA inspector general said this week that it will investigate Scott Pruitt’s meeting with a coal mining industry group. The meeting, which occurred in April, reportedly involved Pruitt urging the industry group to tell Trump to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The EPA inspector general will probe whether the meeting violated anti-lobbying laws for government officials.
PRUITT TO CHALLENGE CLIMATE CHANGE IN PUBLIC FORUM AS SOON AS JANUARY: Let’s be clear: climate science is proven. Yet, Pruitt told Congress in his first oversight hearing since taking over the EPA that he will move ahead with a public forum to challenge climate science as early as January. Instead of working to protect us from the harmful impacts of climate change, Pruitt plans to question the science behind it in a “red team, blue team” exercise in an effort to serve his industry buddies.
CONGRESS PUSHES BACK: House Democrats “pointedly questioned Pruitt about growing influence within the EPA of industries the agency regulates,” according to InsideClimateNews. They also grilled him on his recent move to place industry representatives on scientific advisory boards and raised questions about his calls to debate climate science.
WEEKEND READ: Speaking of Shady Scott’s questionable ethics – POLITICO Magazine is out with a new, in-depth exposé on potential wrongdoing during a federal buyout program that Pruitt was involved in in his own backyard, Tar Creek, Oklahoma.
STAKES HIGH FOR ARCTIC REFUGE DRILLING: Only one Senate Republican voted for an amendment to remove drilling in the Arctic Refuge from the Republican tax bill, advancing the environmentally damaging and economically irresponsible proposal to conference negotiations. A whopping 62 percent of constituents in eight districts oppose the plan, according to bipartisan polling. House Republicans don’t have a single good reason to accept this shameful sellout to the oil and gas industry, and we expect members who care about safeguarding special places like the Arctic Refuge to insist that the provision be removed from the tax package.
WHERE’S THE MONEY? One of the major oil industry talking points in favor of drilling in the Arctic Refuge is that it would generate significant revenue – $1 billion in 10 years. But this past week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke offered an “unprecedented” amount of acreage for leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve, and it received a tepid response. Only two companies bid for the land near the refuge, and the sale generated just $1.2 million, casting serious doubt on Republicans’ dubious revenue claims.
WORTH THE READ: Former New Jersey Governor and Bush EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman makes the case for removing the Arctic Refuge drilling provision from the tax bill.
NEW LCV CHISPA #CleanRide4Kids VIDEO PUTS PRESSURE ON GOVERNORS TO CLEAN UP DIRTY SCHOOL BUSES: LCV’s Chispa is releasing a new video to put public pressure on governors to commit to use their share of a $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen to transform diesel-powered school bus fleets to clean, electric buses. Over 100,000 people have petitioned governors in six states to clean up their act. The settlement came after VW cheated federal emissions tests and endangered communities across the country by releasing toxic pollutants and known carcinogens into the air. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recently said he is considering using Arizona’s VW settlement for new school buses. In addition to Arizona, Chispa is organizing in Maryland, Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Nevada. The Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign also runs at the national level. Watch the new video here.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TURNS BLIND EYE TO CLIMATE CHANGE… As wildfires rage in Southern California, and on the heels of one of the most severe hurricane seasons in history, the Trump administration is turning a blind eye to climate change and the serious consequences. E&E News reported this week that Justice Department lawyers are quietly recruiting scientists who question the role of humans in climate change to bolster the administration’s case in upcoming court fights. And that’s not the only attack on climate science this week – the administration also dismantled a cross-agency group that was established to help prepare cities for serious climate events.
… AS CLIMATE CHANGE WORSENS: And the attacks on climate science could not have come at a worse time. A few new reports out this week hint at the worsening effects of climate change. Capital Weather Gang reports that the weather pattern responsible for extremes on both coasts – extreme heat in the West and extreme cold in the East – will likely develop more frequently as a result of climate change. What’s more? A new Washington Post report outlines that the climate change models that best reflect our current conditions are also the ones that predict the worst situations in the future. Bottom line: the effects of climate change are worsening, and the Trump administration’s inaction is shameful and dangerous to the families and communities in this country and around the world.
AND CITIES TAKE THE LEAD: Thirty-six U.S. mayors signed on to an agreement this week pledging to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER CORPORATE HANDOUT: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week finalized his delay of the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention rule. The rule would limit the waste of $330 million worth of methane from oil and gas operations on public and tribal lands each year through leaks, flaring and intentional releases. Without these commonsense standards, communities will lose millions of dollars, and those living closest to development will be subject to more air pollution.
IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, IT’S A … HELICOPTER: Politico revealed the latest example of Zinke misusing taxpayer money for travel – this time, it’s over $14,000 spent on helicopters. That includes one $8,000 trip to ensure that Zinke could attend the swearing in of his scandal-ridden successor in Congress, Rep. Greg Gianforte.
December 12 – Alabama Senate special election
December 22 – New deadline for government funding to expire
December 22 – Deadline to comment on the administration’s proposed increase to National Park entrance fees