Coal-Friendly Manchin Named Top Dem on Senate Energy Panel
After weeks of discord over the potential appointment, Sen. Joe Manchin, the pro-coal Democrat of West Virginia, was named the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced Tuesday.
Many Democrats and environmental groups were adamantly opposed to Manchin serving as the top Democrat on the committee that oversees policies on climate change, public lands and fossil fuel production.
Following the nod, Manchin said in an online statement he will work with "both sides of the aisle to find common sense solutions for long-term comprehensive energy policy that incorporates an all-of-the-above strategy and ensures our state and our nation are leaders in the energy future."
Manchin is a rare Democratic lawmaker in deep-red West Virginia, but he has consistently supported the state's coal miners. West Virginia is the nation's second-leading producer of coal. He slammed President Obama's "war on coal" and supported President Trump's controversial decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a paltry lifetime score of 45 percent for his environmental voting record.
"Appointing Senator Manchin as ranking member of the Energy Committee is completely at odds with any plan for real climate action," 350.org executive director May Boeve said in a provided statement. "Manchin has taken every opportunity to put Big Oil before the health and safety of communities and our climate."
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is a champion of strong climate action and is a potential 2020 presidential candidate, tweeted last week: "Our party must be wholly committed to ending America's dependence on fossil fuels. Manchin literally shot climate legislation in one of his campaign ads."
In a 2010 television commercial, Manchin bragged about suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and shot a copy of the Democrats' cap-and-trade bill.
Dead Aim - Joe Manchin for West Virginia TV Ad www.youtube.com
David Turnbull, the strategic communications director with Oil Change USA, said in an online statement that Manchin has "enjoyed nearly $1 million in campaign contributions from oil, gas and coal interests in his career."
"If Senator Manchin wants to be taken seriously as someone serious about taking the critical step to move our economy off of fossil fuels, and not someone beholden to the fossil fuel industry, he should take the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge, today," Turnbull added. "It only makes sense that he promise to reject money from the industry being regulated by the committee he'll lead for the Democrats. Until he does, we'll know who he truly answers to."
Tuesday's appointment was not a total surprise. The former West Virginia governor has been a member of the committee since he was elected to the Senate in 2010. He is also the ranking chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy.
Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive upstart of New York who is leading efforts of the Green New Deal, expressed concerns about Manchin taking the position.
"I have concerns over the senator's chairmanship just because I do not believe that we should be financed by the industries that we are supposed to be legislating and regulating and touching with our legislation," Ocasio-Cortez said at press conference held outside the Capitol last month, according to The Intercept.
But last week, Manchin surprisingly voted against Bernard McNamee, a fossil fuel lawyer that President Trump named to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Senator withdrew his support due to his concerns about McNamee's stance on climate change. McNamee was ultimately confirmed in a straight party-line vote.
"Climate change is real, humans have made a significant impact, and we have the responsibility and capability to address it urgently," Manchin said in a statement posted on The Hill after changing his mind about McNamee.
1,000+ Youth Activists Storm Capitol to Demand #GreenNewDeal https://t.co/WrKxoEiG34 @350 @billmckibben @sunrisemvmt— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1544572817.0
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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