EPA's Running Out of Time to Produce Any Documents That Back Up Pruitt's Climate Denial
By Andrea Germanos
That's how long the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has to "promptly perform a search and produce the documents" in its possession that underpin Administrator Scott Pruitt's claim that human activity is not a "primary contributor" to the climate crisis, and any studies that support that assertion.
The directive comes from a federal court order, issued Friday, which smacks down the EPA's efforts to reject a FOIA request from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The group first filed that request on March 10, 2017—that's a day after Pruitt, speaking in his official capacity, said on CNBC: "I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."
Beryl Howell, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, dismissed the EPA's characterization of the FOIA request as "an interrogation" with "simply a reach too far." Instead, she wrote, it was a fair request that reasonably describes the records sought and creates no undue burden, so the EPA is not legally justified in its lack of compliance.
She further noted that "EPA's strained attempt to raise an epistemological smokescreen will not work here to vade its obligations under the FOIA," and: "EPA's apparent concern about taking a position on climate change is puzzling since EPA has already taken a public position on the causes of climate change."
Particularly troubling is the apparent premise of this agency challenge to the FOIA request, namely: that the evidentiary basis for a policy or factual statement by an agency head, including about the scientific factors contributing to climate change, is inherently unknowable. Such a premise runs directly counter to "an axiom of administrative law that an agency's explanation of the basis for its decision must include 'a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made,'" and the "responsibility of the agency to explain the rationale and factual basis for its decision."
Howell also ordered the agency to finish up its search for related records by July 2 and to disclose them to PEER. She gave the agency an additional week to explain to the group its rationale for withholding any documents.
"The beauty of FOIA is that a government agency can run but ultimately can't hide," stated PEER senior counsel Paula Dinerstein. "This suit forces EPA to determine whether Mr. Pruitt's statements had a factual basis or were full of hot air."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
- climate change deniers ›
- Emails Show EPA's Cozy Alliance With Major Climate Denial Group ›
- New Reports Highlight Industry Influence on EPA Head Pruitt ›
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Fauci Warns Pre-Pandemic Normalcy Not Likely Until Late 2021 ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
- Hundreds of Botswana's Elephants Are Dying From Mysterious Cause ›
- How Botswana's Sudden Elephant Deaths Impact the Species ... ›
- In 'Conservation Disaster,' Hundreds of Botswana's Elephants Are ... ›
By Alexandra Villarreal
As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
- NYC Public Schools to Excuse Climate Strikers - EcoWatch ›
- Portuguese Youth Activists Sue 33 Countries Over Climate Crisis ... ›
- Students Rally for Fossil Fuel Divestment at Ohio State University ... ›
The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for tropical storms this year and has now moved on to the Greek alphabet during an extremely active hurricane season. Late Monday night, Tropical Storm Beta became the ninth named storm to make landfall. That's the first time so many named storms have made landfall since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was president, according to NBC News.
- Extreme Weather Suggests Future Climate Crisis Is Already Here ... ›
- Atlantic Faces Fifth 'Above-Normal' Hurricane Season in a Row ... ›