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Victoria Pickering

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."

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Alex Nabaum

Hope Trumps Nope: A Blueprint for Resistance

By Naomi Klein

LET'S REWIND A BIT, to the week Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election. At that moment, I was reeling from witnessing not one catastrophe but two. And I don't think we can understand the true danger of the Trump disaster unless we grapple with both of them.

I was in Australia for work, but I was also very conscious that, because of the carbon involved in that kind of travel, I might not be able to return for a long time. So I decided to visit, for the first time in my life, the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, a World Heritage Site and Earth's largest natural structure made up of living creatures. It was simultaneously the most beautiful and the most frightening thing I had ever seen.

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Renewable Energy
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Rooftop Solar and EVs Save Water and Cut Pollution: Better Use of Data Will Optimize the Benefits

By Beia Spiller

Thanks to improvements in technology, it's easier than ever to be green.

Solar panels and electric vehicles (EVs) are two prime examples of technologies that can help people minimize their environmental footprint, without sacrificing comfort or having to radically change their daily behavior. But the question still remains: How much of an environmental benefit do these technologies actually produce? And, are there actions that owners of these technologies can take to minimize their pollution footprint even more?

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MUST-SEE VIDEO: 5 Threats Today to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante After Trump's Decision

While we fight to defeat President Trump's attacks on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, these are some of the real, on-the-ground threats we must keep at bay.

Following the lead of Native American tribes, The Wilderness Society and other groups have filed lawsuits against President Trump for violating the Antiquities Act when he essentially eliminated Bears Ears and greatly reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

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Fracking
Shutterstock

Study: Babies With Low Birth Weights More Likely Near Pennsylvania Fracking Sites

By Steve Horn

A new study published in the journal Science Advances has concluded that babies born within two miles of sites of fracking for natural gas in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale basin are more likely to have low birth weights.

Researchers from Princeton, the University of Chicago and UCLA analyzed a decade of Pennsylvania birth data from 2004 to 2013—reviewing 1.1 million birth certificates—and concluded that those babies born to mothers living in close proximity to fracking sites are more likely to weigh under 5.5 pounds at birth. Specifically, the study concluded that babies born within a kilometer (just over half a mile) of fracking sites are 25 percent more at risk of low birth weights, which comes with other health effects.

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Victory! Monsanto Shill Michael Dourson Withdraws After Public Outcry

The Center for Food Safety heralded reports that Michael Dourson, President Trump's controversial nominee to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Wednesday withdrew his nomination after senators raised concerns over his past work and conflicts of interest.

"Dourson is a long-time pesticide industry shill, with a history of manipulating scientific research to benefit corporate special interests. He was a dangerous, irresponsible choice to oversee chemical safety at the EPA," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director a Center for Food Safety.

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See the World's Newest Marine Park in the Pacific Ocean

By Matt Rand

For the health of the ocean and all who depend on it, this is big news: In November, Mexico became the latest nation to create a large, fully protected marine reserve.

The Revillagigedo Archipelago National Park, the country's largest marine protected area, is larger than the state of New York and protects 57,176 square miles (148,087 square kilometers) from fishing and other extractive activities.

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Major Job Losses in Renewable Energy if Current Tax Plan Passes

By Steve Clemmer

In March 2017, I testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on how federal tax credits for renewable energy have been a key driver for the recent growth in the U.S. wind and solar industries, creating new jobs, income and tax revenues for local communities. They have also helped drive down the cost of wind and solar power by more than two-thirds since 2009, making renewable energy more affordable for consumers.

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White House to Release Offshore Drilling Plan

By Pete Stauffer

The Trump administration is expected to unveil the new Five Year Offshore Oil Drilling Plan as early as this week, after signing an executive order earlier this year to expand offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. Expanded offshore oil drilling threatens recreation, tourism, fishing and other coastal industries, which provide more than 1.4 million jobs and $95 billion GDP along the Atlantic coast alone. The executive order directed the Interior Department to develop a new five-year oil and gas leasing program to consider new areas for offshore drilling. The order also blocked the creation of new national marine sanctuaries and orders a review of all existing sanctuaries and marine monuments designated or expanded in the past ten years.

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