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No one person encapsulates the enduring legacy of the "robber barons" of the Industrial Age quite like David Rockefeller. Rockefeller, who died Monday at the age of 101, was the last surviving grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the oil tycoon who became America's first billionaire and the patriarch of what would become one of the most powerful and wealthiest families in American history. David Rockefeller, an undeniable product of American nobility, lived his entire life in the echelons of U.S. society, becoming symbolic of the elite who often direct public policy to a much greater extent than many realize, albeit often from the shadows.
Senate 'Puts Party Loyalty Above the Good of Our Nation' With Confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions—who has a civil rights history was so troubling that a Republican Senate refused to confirm him as a federal judge in the 1980s—was confirmed Wednesday in the full Senate (52-47) to serve as U.S. Attorney General, despite the unprecedented and growing opposition to Donald Trump's unfit nominees and the radical, minority views they represent.
"Jeff Sessions fits right in with Donald Trump's collection of unqualified, unfit nominees who have largely been hostile to the missions—and, at times, very existence—of the agencies they've been asked to lead," Martin Hayden, Earthjustice vice president of policy and litigation, said. "Sessions' abysmal record of opposition to fundamental civil rights and environmental protections disqualifies him for service as head of our federal department dedicated to justice for everyone in our country.
"President Trump's nominees may have been released with a fury, but they are barely dragging across the finish line—winning confirmation only because Republican senators have put party loyalty above the good of our nation ... Earthjustice will hold Sessions accountable in the court of law."
What is Sen. Sessions' record on environmental protection?
He has a dismal record on the environment, climate change and pollution control efforts. A climate change denier, Sessions has opposed nearly every piece of global warming and environmental legislation since 1997.
This year, Sessions opposed amendments in the Energy Policy Modernization Act that would have incentivized energy efficiency, phased out fossil fuel subsidies, and established a national energy efficiency standard.
In 2015, he voted for a resolution to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) carbon pollution standards for new and modified power plants. Sessions has also pushed to gut clean water rules, undermine the protection of imperiled plants and wildlife and opposed climate change science education.
In 2012, he supported a resolution that would roll back protections from toxic mercury which EPA estimates prevent 11,000 premature deaths a year. Also, during a Senate hearing on climate science, he refused to accept that 97 percent of climate scientists believe that global warming is happening and humans are causing it.What does the U.S. Attorney General do?
The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer for the U.S. federal government and head of the Department of Justice. The Attorney General is sworn to enforce and uphold all laws of our nation, including the laws that protect our right to a healthy environment and the laws that uphold our fundamental civil rights. There is no fixed term length for the Attorney General position.
Sessions has voted to defund renewable and solar energy development, voted against tax incentives for renewables like solar and wind, and favored the renewal of oil and gas exploration subsidies. On its most recent National Environmental Scorecard, the League of Conservation Voters scored Sessions in the single digits: an appalling 4 percent—and 7 percent over his whole career, placing him in the lowest quarter of all senators.
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According to reports from Inside EPA, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency is considering shutting down the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), a move which would echo the president's nominee Scott Pruitt's move to close his own environmental enforcement unit as Attorney General of Oklahoma.
"Scott Pruitt endangered the health and welfare of Oklahomans when closed his own environmental enforcement unit there, and now it looks like he wants to do the exact same thing at the EPA, imperiling families across America," said Liz Perera, Sierra Club climate policy director. "Corporate polluters are not going to wake up and suddenly start policing themselves simply because Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt don't care what happens to our air and water."