4 Things to Know About Mike Pence's Environmental Record
By Keith Gaby
The investigation into Russia's interference in our elections is critically important, but some have noted that it could be squeezing out media attention for other serious issues—including the Trump administration's damaging environmental policies.
Case in point: Mike Pence, our usually unobtrusive vice president, who last week drew headlines for hiring a personal lawyer in wake of the Russia probe.
In reality, Pence has been an important figure in the Trump administration's policymaking all along—not the least because his relative credibility with Republicans in Congress makes him a key lobbyist for the president's policies.
All of which means his views on the environment are worthy of our attention.
1. His environmental score as congressman: Zero
Unlike his boss, Vice President Pence actually has a long and specific history on environmental issues.
As congressman, he voted for pro-environment positions just four percent of the time, according to the League of Conservation Voters scorecard.
That means he chose the path of stronger health and environmental protections, on average, once every 25 times he had the option. His annual score peaked in 2003 at lucky 13 percent.
During half his years in Congress, he earned a zero. In short, he spent his time in the House representing the view that polluters should have few restrictions and clean energy should get less support.
2. As governor, he sided with polluters
Pence continued on the same track as governor of Indiana.
He and the legislature canceled the Energizing Indiana program, which reportedly resulted in energy savings of about 11 million megawatt hours, significant cost savings and nearly 19,000 new jobs.
Energizing Indiana was established with support from the state's previous Republican governor, Mitch Daniels, so it was far from a program pushed by wild-eyed environmentalists.
3. He's a foe of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
In a 2014 opinion piece in the Indianapolis Star, Pence argued against two critical EPA pollution limits.
He opposed the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, which limits toxins that damage the brains of development of children before and after birth.
Pence also attacked the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which protects states from pollution that drifts across borders. His criticisms were based on traditional scare tactics about the economic impact of these safeguards—which have since been proven false.
4. He rejects accepted climate science
Finally, Pence apparently disagrees with NASA, the National Academies of Science and all major American scientific organizations on climate change.
In 2009, for instance, he told MSNBC inaccurately, "I think the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming."
Unsurprisingly, as governor of Indiana he sued the EPA to block the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era landmark plan to reduce climate pollution from power plants.
The influence of vice presidents is often overlooked. But these days, the job involves far more than attending funerals and christening ships. The record suggests that Pence, the only member of the administration who can't be fired, is likely to use his influence to re-enforce Trump's zeal for tearing down key clean air and water safeguards.
It's time to take Mr. Pence seriously as a threat to our environment.
Keith Gaby explores the intersection of politics and climate change at Environmental Defense Fund.
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>