Former EPA Employees Sound the Alarm in Scathing Report
By Andy Rowell
"The Trump administration claims that it supports clean air and water, but its proposed FY 2018 Budget tells another story."
So begins the devastating 10 page analysis and critique of the proposed cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), written by former staffers, called the Environmental Protection Network, which is made up of retired employees from Republican and Democratic administrations.
Together, they have decades of experience and they are outraged at the attack on their former agency. They do not mince their words: "slash," "severe," "Orwellian," "unprecedented" and "eliminated" are some of the words used in their report.
The "deep cuts would slash the Environmental Protection Agency's Budget 42%," leaving the EPA with the smallest workforce since the early eighties.
"The punishment inflicted on EPA is deeper than any other major federal agency. Staff layoffs most likely will hit younger, more recently hired staff, decimating the next generation of environmental professionals and crippling EPA and state efforts for years to come," argue the ex-staffers.
On Thursday, the climate denying head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, will have to defend these unprecedented cuts before Congress. Pruitt will preside over cuts that will kill people in an ideological attack on climate and science. Plain and simple.
Since heading up the EPA, Pruitt has been "packing his staff with climate skeptics drawn from the staff of the King Climate Skeptic, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)," noted Dave Roberts in a must-read article in Vox.
Given Pruitt's ideological climate stupidity, most EPA climate programs, including climate research, will be "eliminated," and the EPA's main science program is due to be slashed by 47 percent, according to the report:
"This area would be the most severely cut, contrary to verbiage in the Budget document acknowledging the important role of science in carrying out EPA's regulatory, permitting and enforcement responsibilities. The damage is not only to EPA, but to scientists across the country."
In total, the "budget would completely eliminate over 50 separate programs," the ex-staffers concluded, noting that "these include programs that serve low income and disadvantaged communities that are disproportionally damaged by pollution."
Meanwhile, in a further sop to the oil industry, the EPA is seeking to introduce a two-year pause on the Obama Administration oil and gas pollution rule, which would limit the potent greenhouse gas, methane, rather than the ninety days they first suggested.
Obama officials finalized the rule last year, but the oil industry has been lobbying hard to get it scrapped. Indeed, oil industry-puppet Scott Pruitt had sued the EPA over the rule when he was Oklahoma attorney general. As The Hill noted, "Pausing implementation of the rule for two years would mean drillers would not need to abide by the standards while the EPA's review moves forward."
Environmental groups are now suing the EPA over pausing the rule. One of those suing, the Natural Resources Defense Council, has said the Trump administration is "giving its friends in the oil and gas industry a free pass to continue polluting our air."
But then it is worth remembering what Donald Trump said back in September last year to his oil industry buddies at a Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh: "Oh, you will like me so much," he drooled.
If nothing else, this chaotic president and his crony Pruitt have stayed true to their word. As Dave Roberts pointed out Wednesday, "The love affair between Trump and fossil fuel companies has blossomed ever since."
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."
By Katie O'Reilly
Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.