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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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Video Shows Oil Company's Plans to Drill Arctic From Artificial Island

The Liberty Project has posted a video about its proposal to build the nation's first oil production platform in federal waters in the Arctic.

The video was quietly uploaded two months ago and shows Hilcorp Alaska's plan to build an artificial gravel island and undersea pipeline for its offshore drilling project in the Beaufort Sea. Frankly speaking, the five-minute clip—with its all-American voiceover and electric guitar riffs—is something you'd expect from a pickup truck commercial.

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Scientists Discover Sea Levels Rose in Sharp Bursts During Last Warming

By Rice University

Scientists from Rice University and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi's Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies have discovered that Earth's sea level did not rise steadily but rather in sharp, punctuated bursts when the planet's glaciers melted during the period of global warming at the close of the last ice age. The researchers found fossil evidence in drowned reefs offshore Texas that showed sea level rose in several bursts ranging in length from a few decades to one century.

The findings appeared Wednesday in Nature Communications.

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Quitting Coal: New Global Survey Names the Companies, Countries and Cities

More than a quarter of the 1,675 companies that owned or developed coal-fired power capacity since 2010 have entirely left the coal power business, according to new research from CoalSwarm and Greenpeace. This represents nearly 370 large coal-fired power plants—enough to power around six United Kingdoms—and equivalent to nearly half a trillion dollars in assets retired or not developed.

While many generating companies go through this rapid makeover, the research also shows that a total of 23 countries, states and cities will have either phased out coal-fired power plants or set a timeline to do so by 2030.

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New Evidence Suggests Ancient Egypt Was Brought Down By Volcanoes and Climate Change

Ancient Egypt is often described as an exotic place—pyramids, hieroglyphics, lavishly worshipped kings and queens.

But in many ways, it has a lot of parallels to modern life. It was an economically diverse, culturally vibrant and unequal place.

The millenniums-old society also struggled with a phenomenon that people today know all too well: climate change. And it may have ultimately led to the civilization's demise, according to a new paper by a team of researchers at Yale University.

The team of researchers studied the tail-end of ancient Egypt during the Ptolemaic dynasty between 305-30 BCE.

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As Portugal reels from its worst wildfires on record, seven Portuguese children have met an important crowdfunding goal for their major climate lawsuit against 47 European nations.

More than £20,000 ($26,400) was pledged by 589 people, allowing the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)—the nonprofit coordinating the lawsuit—to identify and compile evidence to present to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. GLAN now has a new stretch target of £100,000.

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For the study, researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands, alongside their German and English colleagues, measured the biomass of trapped flying insects at 63 nature preserves in Germany since 1989. They were shocked to discover that the total biomass decreased dramatically over the 27 years of the study, with a seasonal decline of 76 percent and mid-summer decline of 82 percent, when insect numbers tend to peak.

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Pushing Toxic Chemicals and Climate Denial: The Dark Money-Funded Independent Women’s Forum

By Stacy Malkan

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IWF began in 1991 as an effort to defend now Supreme Court Justice (and former Monsanto attorney) Clarence Thomas as he faced sexual harassment charges. The group now says it seeks to "improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty."

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