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House Passes Resolution Against Trump's 'National Emergency' to Fund Border Wall That Endangers 90+ Species
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday to overturn President Donald Trump's emergency declaration to fund the construction of a border wall that would put 93 endangered species at risk. Trump issued the declaration to secure around $8 billion in funding for the wall after a bipartisan spending bill passed by Congress Feb. 15 allocated only $1.375 billion to border security. Trump had originally requested $5.7 billion for the wall during a stand-off with Congress that resulted in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
The resolution against the national emergency passed the House 245 to 182, with 13 Republicans breaking ranks to join with Democrats to pass the measure, CNN reported.
"Today, the House showed Donald Trump that Americans will not sit idly by as he steals taxpayer money, claims our country is in a non-existent emergency, and manufactures a humanitarian crisis on the border. All of these actions are the Trump administration's efforts to advance a twisted, racist, and cruel agenda built on inhumane deportations and a divisive, environmentally destructive, congressionally rejected border wall," Sierra Club federal policy director Melinda Pierce said in a statement.
The fight over the national emergency now moves to the Senate, where the passage of a resolution blocking it is less certain. Four Republican senators would need to vote with every Democratic senator to pass the resolution. So far, three Republicans have indicated they will support the measure: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Tillis wrote a Washington Post op-ed Monday announcing his decision, in which he said he supported Trump's desire to increase border security, but was worried about the precedent he was setting. Part of what concerned him was whether a future Democratic president would declare a national emergency to pursue sweeping action on climate change.
"[Conservatives] should be thinking about whether they would accept the prospect of a President Bernie Sanders declaring a national emergency to implement parts of the radical Green New Deal," he wrote.
Environmental groups have been at the forefront of the fight against the border wall and the emergency declaration. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) tweeted urging followers to call their senators and encourage them to vote for the resolution against the declaration.
CBD has also joined with Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Legal Defense Fund to sue the Trump administration, arguing its use of an emergency declaration to divert funds for wall construction was not legal, as The Hill reported Feb. 18.
"Separation of powers is at the heart of our democracy and the power of the purse is a critical check on the president. Trump's authoritarian attempt to build his destructive border wall is a flagrant abuse of that constitutional structure. If he gets his way, it'll be a disaster for communities and wildlife along the border, including some of our country's most endangered species," CBD senior attorney Brian Segee said in a statement reported by The Hill.
It is likely the issue will ultimately be decided in the courts, BBC News reported. That is because, even if the Senate passes the resolution, Trump has promised to veto it. At that point, a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate would be required to override the veto.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the Senate would vote on the resolution before its next recess the week of March 18, CNN reported.
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- Trump's Wall Won't Solve a National Emergency. It Is One | WIRED ›
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.