From premium airfare to round-the-clock security, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt's receipts have raised alarm bells before, but could his latest controversy be the last straw?
During television appearances Sunday, several lawmakers and former Trump officials condemned the industry-friendly EPA administrator's alleged $50-a-night deal at a D.C. townhouse co-owned by an energy lobbyist and his wife.
"I don't know how you survive this one, and if he has to go, it's because he never should have been there in the first place," former Republican New Jersey governor and Trump transition head Chris Christie said on ABC News' This Week.
He "may be on his way out," Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama also said on the same show.
"I think he's in real trouble," Jones added. "People are just frustrated with Cabinet members who seem to want to use taxpayer dollars to fund their own personal lifestyle."
On CBS's Face the Nation, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders said, "You got a guy who's head of the EPA now who is nothing more than a front man for the fossil fuel industry, and that is a very serious problem and the Congress has got to stand up and oppose that line of policy."
- Scott Pruitt worked directly with a lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry and automakers to arrange a sweetheart deal on a townhouse co-owned by the lobbyist's wife in a high-priced D.C. neighborhood.
- The lobbyist—Steven Hart—is the head of the D.C. lobbying firm Williams and Jensen, which specifically lobbies the EPA on Clean Air Act policies, according to ABC. Hart represents Cheniere Energy, the company that owned the only operating Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export plant in the U.S. at the time of Scott Pruitt's taxpayer-funded trip to Morocco where he advocated for LNG exports.
- Hart's firm also represents the American Automotive Policy Council, which includes automakers such as Ford, who lobbied Pruitt's forthcoming decision to roll back clean car standards.
- Pruitt reportedly paid for just one room in the otherwise unoccupied townhouse, and declined to tell ethics officials his adult daughter stayed in another room he was not paying for.
- Pruitt reportedly paid far below market value for the room he rented and ethics officials from both past Republican and Democratic administrations say he violated federal ethics rules for accepting gifts from lobbyists as a result, while ethics expert Norm Eisen noted the violations may "have crossed into criminal territory."
- Here is a map of AirBnB rates in the same neighborhood as the lobbyist's townhouse. Similar units cost up to $5,000 a month. Pruitt paid $6,100 for his entire six month stay.
- While living in the home, Hart continued to have dinner parties and functions, raising questions about whether political fundraisers were held in the house while Pruitt was there. Hart and his firm have donated more than $600,000 to political candidates this year.
- To top it off, Pruitt's security detail broke down the door of the townhouse concerned that Pruitt was unconscious. It turned out Pruitt was merely napping ... on a workday afternoon. The EPA reimbursed the lobbyist for the door, meaning he was likely paid with taxpayer dollars. (Speaking of taxpayer dollars—Pruitt has a habit of wasting money when he's not the one picking up the tab).
"This is not a simple conflict of interest—this is corruption, plan and simple," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said. "Pruitt got a sweetheart deal from a fossil fuel lobbyist and then pushed the agenda of that lobbyist at the EPA and on taxpayer-funded international trips—and that's just the latest scandal."
Brune continued, "The fossil fuel lobbyists Pruitt is taking favors and marching orders from are telling him to throw out the safeguards that keep our air and water safe from their pollution, and our kids are at risk as a result. The only way for this non-stop deluge of scandals and negative headlines to stop is for Pruitt to be fired immediately."
Congressmen Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) had a similar opinion, tweeting directly at President Trump: "Republicans who don't believe in climate change and want to dismantle environmental protections are a dime a dozen. You don't need Scott Pruitt, who spent taxpayer dollars on first-class travel, violated ethics laws and is deeply paranoid. You should fire him."
Dear @realDonaldTrump: Republicans who don't believe in climate change & want to dismantle environmental protection… https://t.co/hMzOVZwUDW— Ted Lieu (@Ted Lieu)1522518331.0
Pruitt has not commented on the reports. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended the arrangement.
"As EPA career ethics officials stated in a memo, Administrator Pruitt's housing arrangement for both himself and family was not a gift and the lease was consistent with federal ethics regulations," he told Reuters.
The memo, from EPA ethics official Kevin Minoli, said such arrangements were not considered "gifts" if a federal official pays market value for them.
"Under the terms of the lease, if the space was utilized for one 30-day month, then the rental cost would be $1,500, which is a reasonable market price," the memo said.
However, Reuters reported that local real estate websites show that the average market price for a similar property in the area is at least three times as much.
Walter Shaub, the former Office of Government ethics director who resigned in July after clashes with the Trump administration, called the memo "total baloney."
He tweeted, "You cannot get a whole place to yourself in that prime location for $1,500 a month, nor will you find anyone willing to hold the place open for you all month and charge you only for the nights you use it."
Tuesday in the midst of a national emergency along the Gulf Coast, Donald Trump's attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, is set to announce the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, leaving it up to congress to protect the more than 800,000 young undocumented immigrants in the program. DACA, put in place by the Obama administration, provided protections from deportations and the ability to work and attend school for young undocumented immigrants or Dreamers, brought to the U.S. as children. Houston is home to 56,800 dreamers.
Trump's mean-spirited decision to terminate DACA endangers the safety of hundreds of thousands of our friends, family members and neighbors. These are young people who came to the United States with a dream to make a better life, and they are making our country better as a result.
The immigrant rights and environmental movements' concerns are intertwined. Those communities most threatened by Trump's presidency—immigrants, communities of color and women—are also most vulnerable to toxic pollution and climate change. The Sierra Club is in solidarity with all those who have helped strengthen our country through DACA and we strongly oppose the bigotry being stoked by the White House against immigrants.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
The Trump administration released its objectives Monday for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The objectives suggest a repeat of labor and environmental provisions from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a deal whose demise Donald Trump widely took credit for—that were deemed too weak by virtually all leading labor and environmental groups. On other critical questions, the ostensibly "detailed" negotiating objectives provide no details, such as whether corporations will continue to be able to use NAFTA to sue governments over environmental protections in unaccountable tribunals of corporate lawyers.
Earlier this year, leading environmental groups laid out a platform for replacing NAFTA with a trade deal that protects communities across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The plans released by the administration Monday are generally silent on these objectives, and those outlined by unions, family farmers and consumer groups. Instead of concrete objectives, Monday's announcement contained vague platitudes.
In a blunt display of hypocrisy, Donald Trump appears to want to copy and paste the weak labor and environmental provisions of the TPP, a deal that Trump claimed to hate. Based on Monday's "plan," one could be forgiven for concluding that Trump's opposition to the TPP was merely political theater and this administration has no intent of fundamentally changing NAFTA.
Throughout his campaign, Trump pledged to workers and communities across the country that he would immediately fix a trade deal that has eroded wages and increased pollution. Instead, his long-awaited NAFTA "plan" keeps workers and communities in the dark and offers only vague tweaks to a corporate trade deal that has harmed workers and communities for more than two decades.
The only way the deal that replaces NAFTA will benefit the public is if the negotiation process is conducted in the open, not in a corporate board room. Unsurprisingly, that doesn't look like that's what Trump has in mind. We cannot afford another trade deal that locks out the public and locks in fossil fuel dependency.
The Trump administration notified Congress Thursday of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. Throughout his candidacy, Trump proclaimed he would "announce" plans to "totally renegotiate" NAFTA on "day one" of his presidency. Today is the 119th day of his presidency.
Today's notification from the Trump administration consists of two pages and does not offer any concrete plans for NAFTA renegotiation. Previously, a more detailed draft renegotiation notice from the administration leaked, revealing plans to keep many of NAFTA's most damaging elements intact. In contrast, the Sierra Club and other leading environmental groups have released eight specific and fundamental changes to NAFTA that must be included in any replacement deal.
NAFTA remains broken, but Trump's empty rhetoric will not fix it. We need a serious plan to replace NAFTA with a people-first approach to trade. All indications thus far show that Trump will fail to deliver.
Donald Trump promised that he'd fix NAFTA on his first day in office. 119 days later he has managed to send Congress a two-page letter that fails to include any real plan to fix a deal that has undermined environmental protections, eliminated jobs, undercut wages, polluted our air and water and fueled climate change. If Trump's cabinet full of corporate polluters and Wall Street billionaires is any indication of what he has planned, his NAFTA redux will likely include even more handouts to the corporations that have used NAFTA to profit off of Americans' misfortune for more than 20 years.
Across the country, people are calling for an entirely new approach to trade; one that prioritizes people and the planet over polluters. A new trade deal must support good union jobs, livable wages, healthy communities, clean air and water and a more stable climate. Any deal that falls short of these widely-shared priorities will face vigorous opposition from the same movement of millions—across sectors, borders and party lines—that defeated the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive directive Tuesday to the Commonwealth's Department of Environmental Quality and the Air Pollution Control Board that will lead to a strong limit on carbon pollution from power plants through regional cooperation.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will now begin crafting plans to develop a program to reduce carbon pollution in the state. Executive Directive 11 is designed to ensure Virginia's energy future includes a structure that enforces carbon-reduction mechanisms. This is the result of the Executive Order 57 process, through which more than 10,000 Virginians called on the governor to use his authority to reduce carbon pollution.
Meanwhile, clean energy growth in Virginia continues to rise. According to the governor's office, the clean energy economy is creating $1.5 billion in revenue, solar jobs are up 65 percent since 2014 and solar installations have risen 1,200 percent in just the last year.
The Sierra Club applauds Gov. McAuliffe for protecting the health of Virginia families and communities. This is a perfect example of how states and local governments can ensure our nation takes climate action even as Donald Trump buries his head in the sand while the seas are rising. Leaders like Gov. McAuliffe know we have a moral obligation to act and will seize economic opportunities when we do, as the clean energy economy is already proving it will create good-paying jobs while powering homes and businesses.
No one can ignore the progress on climate action and clean energy on the state and local levels. This important policy comes on the same day as the announcement of the 253rd coal plant retirement since the beginning of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign and on the heels of Hanover, New Hampshire becoming the 29th city to commit to 100 percent clean energy as part of our Ready for 100 campaign. Forget his rhetoric: Trump cannot stop this momentum for clean energy and climate action that is being driven by citizen activism in states and communities across the country.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to begin the process of repealing several Obama-era actions tackling the climate crisis and protecting clean air and water, including steps to begin the process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan, roll back Oil and Gas New Source Performance Standards, rescind National Environmental Policy Act guidance that directs agencies to account for the climate crisis and end efforts to reform the broken federal coal leasing program.
A new Sierra Club analysis of Department of Energy 2017 jobs data across the energy sector makes it clear that the sector Scott Pruitt and Trump will be attacking—clean energy—employs far more American workers than the fossil fuel industry. Coal is declining so rapidly—thanks to grassroots activism and market forces in the U.S. and abroad—and clean energy is growing at such a fast pace that the U.S. is on track to meet its Clean Power Plan goals and the U.S. has a path to meet its goals under the Paris climate agreement.
Pruitt's own agency confirmed that the Clean Power Plan will lower electricity rates while saving billions of dollars and thousands of lives every year. Meanwhile, there are legions of obstacles Trump must overcome to actually dismantle the Clean Power Plan—he can't do it with the stroke of a pen.
Donald Trump's executive order would let dirty power plants spew unlimited pollution into our air while ignoring the climate crisis, unraveling protections that are designed to save billions of dollars and thousands of lives. In fact, Trump's sweeping order is the single biggest attack on climate action in U.S. history, period.
The safeguards Trump is trying to throw out protect all families in America by curbing dangerous carbon pollution and reducing other dangerous pollutants like mercury, methane and sulfur dioxide—but unfortunately Trump would rather pad the fossil fuel industry's profits. But it's not just padding their profits with threats to our health, it's also being done with our wallets. Ending the coal leasing moratorium does nothing but sell-out our publicly-owned lands for pennies on the dollar to coal companies.
#Trump to Strike Biggest Blow Against Obama #Climate Legacy https://t.co/L9JoFshse8 @SierraClub @ClimateReality @NRDC @RobertKennedyJr @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1490707750.0
Worse, Trump's attack ignores reality—not just the reality of the climate crisis, but the reality that the clean energy economy is rapidly growing in both red and blue states, creating jobs and safeguarding our air and water. The best way to protect workers and the environment is to invest in growing the clean energy economy that is already outpacing fossil fuels and ensuring no one is left behind at a time when we can declare independence from dirty fuels by embracing clean energy, this action could only deepen our dependence on fuels that pollute our air, water and climate while making our kids sicker.
Meanwhile, grassroots advocates have helped push coal to its lowest level in history by retiring nearly 250 plants nationwide and cities ranging from Salt Lake City, Utah to Georgetown, Texas are committing to 100 percent clean energy.
Is YOURS One? 25 Cities Now Committed to 100% #Renewables https://t.co/bm40Mm5vOs via @EcoWatch @StefanieSpear… https://t.co/RrKw8dPrv2— Allan Margolin (@Allan Margolin)1490567675.0
Because of strong local action to replace coal and gas with clean energy we are on track to meet the Clean Power Plan's 2030 emissions targets as soon as next year and clean energy growth nationwide will continue unabated. However, the Clean Power Plan is a critical tool that helps every state benefit from the clean energy economy and plan for an orderly and effective transition away from fossil fuels. Sadly, Trump's aggressive pro-polluter action means residents living downwind of the remaining coal- and gas-powered power plants will suffer from dirtier air while missing out on many of the benefits of the fair and just clean energy economy the Clean Power Plan would help create. And kids everywhere face a deeply uncertain future, with a president content to let the climate crisis spiral out of control.
The good news is that the safeguards Trump wants to shred—like the Clean Power Plan—are on a strong legal footing and the public will have the chance to voice its objections as the Trump administration tries to roll them back. Trump can't reverse our clean energy and climate progress with the stroke of a pen and we'll fight Trump in the courts, in the streets and at the state and local level across America to protect the health of every community.
His confirmation will be followed by a rally today at noon outside the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. The rally will demonstrate people's love of the outdoors and the fierce expectation that Sec. Zinke stand firm against those seeking to undermine the new Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
The majority of Americans want to see our public lands protected for future generations to enjoy, not sold off or plundered for the financial benefit of the few. Yet as a Congressman, Zinke repeatedly sold out to corporate polluters.
The Outdoor Industry Loves #Utah ... But Does Utah Love the Outdoor Industry? https://t.co/xOQXGMszdJ @patagonia @CenterForBioDiv @NRDC @NWF— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1484164668.0
The Secretary of the Interior must stand behind our public lands and stand up for tribal sovereignty, not consider rolling back protections for places like Bears Ears National Monument. We will continue to push Secretary Zinke to defend our public lands. We will resist all efforts to dismantle, degrade, and dispose of our outdoor legacy, even as we fight to make these places more accessible and welcoming for everyone.
I'm not sure how many things you'd get Michael Bloomberg, Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney to agree on, but they did all say the same thing about Donald Trump: He's a con man. As the chaotic disaster of his presidency begins to play itself out on the national stage, though, we need to take that assessment a step further: Donald Trump is a master of deception and distraction, and our biggest mistake would be to underestimate him. He knows exactly what he's doing. He misdirects and misrepresents to compensate for his weakness as a leader.
Trump often distracts people by saying one thing while doing exactly the opposite. For example, he will praise President Obama and publically declare, as he did in Time magazine this week, that erasing his predecessor's legacy is the furthest thing from his mind. Meanwhile, he is making the farthest-right cabinet appointments in history, choosing men and women who will not only strive to erase President Obama's legacy, but do so with relish.
On no issue is this more obvious than climate change. When pressed on climate change during a meeting with the New York Times, Trump said he intended to keep "an open mind" on the Paris climate accord. Meanwhile, his daughter Ivanka supposedly let it be known that she wanted to make climate change her "signature issue." Might a Trump administration actually work with climate activists to find common ground? Who wouldn't want to believe that? And yet it all turned out to be misdirection.
One after another, every important climate position in Trump's cabinet has gotten an extreme anti-environmental, climate-denying nominee. It started with the most radical anti–climate-progress administrator imaginable for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a sworn enemy of the same agency he would run.
Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, 'Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry,' to Head EPA https://t.co/qPkff6DtIS via @EcoWatch— EWG (@EWG)1481166611.0
Then came Rex Tillerson as secretary of state—which would put an oil executive with no experience in international diplomacy and a king-sized conflict of interest in charge of our international climate policy.
#Trump Taps #Exxon's #RexTillerson, Confirms 'Support of Big Oil and #Putin' https://t.co/1rRLwJjI2m @sierraclub @PriceofOil @greenpeaceusa— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1481649893.0
Next, Trump picked former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy, to run that very department.
Trump's Pick for Energy Secretary Sits on Board of Dakota Access Pipeline Company https://t.co/KBfYj4c7Tu @dhlovelife @dirtyoilsands— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1481681407.0
And finally, for the Interior Department, he selected Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, who during his short time in Congress has earned a 3 percent score from the League of Conservation voters.
#Trump Picks Big Sky Rep With 3% Environmental Voting Record to Run DOI https://t.co/BTqIfmyYh7 @CenterForBioDiv @Wilderness @sierraclub— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1481724615.0
This is a Koch brothers dream team: Not one of these men accepts the scientific consensus behind climate change. To a man, they are boosters of polluting fossil fuels.
And yet, in the real world, most Americans want their government to do something about climate change—not sabotage our progress. Even more Americans—majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, Trump voters and Clinton voters—want to see their government invest in renewables and a clean-energy economy. If Trump gets away with this clean sweep of dirty energy champions, Americans will end up with exactly the opposite of what we really want and desperately need.
You can argue about whether such tactics served Trump well in his long and checkered business career, but for a U.S. president this kind of behavior is a political time bomb. As Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Every piece of data shows that Trump is the least popular U.S. president to enter office in recent history. Despite the unprecedented intervention of a foreign government in the election, he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots. Treating the American public like suckers while ignoring their real needs and wishes (and hoping they won't notice) is a loser's strategy. It's habitual deception masking a desperate, thin-skinned insecurity. And sooner or later, it will fail spectacularly.
In the meantime, though, a lot of damage can be done. That's why we must see past the distractions of tweets and soundbites and shine a fierce light on the reality of what Trump and his corporate cronies want to do to our government. Nominating someone like a Rex Tillerson to the highest position in the cabinet is a brazen overreach that must be stopped. Putting the EPA and the Department of Energy in the hands of men who want to destroy those institutions is outrageous.
Don't be fooled. We can stop this from happening. If everyone who believes it's important to protect our climate and environment speaks up, Trump will be forced to back down. Start now by telling your senators to oppose the Tillerson and Pruitt nominations, and stay tuned for more actions and ways to get involved.
Presidential #debate ignores climate change ... again https://t.co/oUphFlrLLK via @HuffingtonPost https://t.co/LaMvVJFzEP— Climate Nexus (@Climate Nexus)1476963184.0
"While Secretary Clinton brought up clean energy jobs and climate change during the topic of the economy, Donald Trump choked. Climate change is a major factor when talking about immigration, the economy, foreign hot spots, the national debt, and the Supreme Court. The fact that it received seconds of attention from only one candidate is offensive to the American people, particularly those already dealing with the devastating impacts."
Only two percent of the total time in the three debates was spent on climate and energy policy, due mostly to an audience question in the second debate—not a single moderator asked a climate question.
We're at the final question of the last debate and climate change has not come up in a serious way once. Criminal negligence. #debatenight— Naomi Klein (@Naomi Klein)1476930711.0
"Yet, the fact that Hillary Clinton proactively recognized the climate crisis and the need to grow the clean energy economy in each and every debate underlines exactly how clear the choice is this election. Only Hillary Clinton has a plan to tackle the climate crisis and only Hillary Clinton will defend and strengthen our clean air, clean water, and climate safeguards. Meanwhile, we learned that Donald Trump's opinion about the integrity of our elections is the same as his opinion of climate science: he will deny reality, come hell or high water."
So, four debates; four shout-outs by moderators to deficit scolds; not one question about climate change. It's really disgraceful.— Paul Krugman (@Paul Krugman)1476931878.0
For a deeper dive:
Vox, Brad Plumer column; New York Times, Paul Krugman column; Grist, Emma Foehringer Merchant column; Mashable, Andrew Freedman column; Huffington Post, Kate Sheppard column; Guardian, Oliver Milman analysis; New York Times, David Leonhardt column; ThinkProgress, Joe Romm column; Discover, Tom Yulsman column; Fusion, Ari Phillips column; USA Today editorial; Engadget, Mat Smith column; Bustle, Cheyna Roth column
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met in St. Louis last night for the 2nd Presidential Debate moderated by Anderson Cooper of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC. It wasn't until the bitter end that the issue of energy and climate change came into the discussion when Town Hall participant Ken Bone asked:
"What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?"
"Absolutely. I think it's such a great question, because energy is under siege by the Obama administration. Under absolute siege. The EPA—the Environmental Protection Agency—is killing these energy companies. And foreign companies are now coming in, buying so many of our different plants and then rejiggering the plant so they can take care of their oil. We are killing, absolutely killing our energy business in this country."
Thanks to NPR's Scott Horsley, we find Trump's response skewed. Horsley noted, while fact checking Trump's response:
Domestic oil and gas production have increased steadily during President Obama's time in office. The U.S. has been the world's leading producer of natural gas since 2011 and the top producer of oil since 2013.
The Energy Information Administration says gasoline prices averaged $2.25 a gallon last week—about seven cents a gallon cheaper than a year ago, and about 20 cents a gallon less than Obama's first year in office.
Clinton's initial response to Bone's question, "We are, however, producing a lot of natural gas which serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels. And I think that's an important transition," took a hard hit on Twitter:
#debate. Who lost in the debate tonight? Planet earth. Trump believes in "clean coal" and Clinton believes gas is a good "bridge" fuel.— Dawn Dannenbring (@Dawn Dannenbring)1476067968.0
First discussion of climate change. Answer from Clinton: "Natural gas is a great bridge fuel." #debate https://t.co/suUhzy2EtL— Kate Aronoff (@Kate Aronoff)1476067091.0
However, Clinton followed her bridge fuel remarks saying she has "a comprehensive energy policy but it really does include fighting climate change because I think that is a serious problem" and that she supports "moving to more clean and renewable energy as quickly as we can. Because I think we can be the 21st century clean energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses."
Sierra Club's Executive Director Michael Brune praised Clinton for her plans. "With each answer tonight, Hillary Clinton showed that she has thought about the challenges facing our country, developed solutions to address them and—as even Donald Trump admitted—she'll never give up fighting for the American people," Brune said.
"By contrast, there is a reason people are fleeing from Donald Trump in droves. Neither his temperament nor his ideas are a match for what the country needs."
There no room for #debate: It's clear that electing Donald Trump President would mean #climate disaster.— Sierra Club (@Sierra Club)1476067362.0
Greenpeace USA's Executive Director Annie Leonard showed disappointment at the lack of conversation on climate change during last night's debate.
"In addition to more targeted insults to women, communities of color and immigrants on a regular basis, Donald Trump also insults the entire human race on a daily basis with his aggressive denial and inaction regarding climate change," Leonard said.
11 Times Trump Said 'Climate Change Is a Hoax' https://t.co/yPSAirwPia via @EcoWatch #debates #debatenight… https://t.co/WhQfXPTAzK— The YEARS Project (@The YEARS Project)1475066424.0
"The candidates spent very little time talking about climate change during tonight's debate but it is on the minds of so many Americans, especially as Hurricane Matthew continues to take a heavy toll here and in Haiti," Leonard continued. "Climate change demands the attention of both candidates and their parties, and it is shameful that it was given so little."
A climate changed hurricane just killed 900 people in Haiti and 17 in the United States. Perhaps that should be part of the #debate.— 350 dot org (@350 dot org)1476064704.0
A landmark climate change conference starts today in Oberlin, Ohio. The conference will bringing together many of the world's leading thinkers, political figures, economists, investors, philanthropists, business leaders, educators and public intellectuals to discuss the changes needed to "spur a successful transition to a sustainable, resilient, prosperous and equitable economy driven by safe, renewable energy." Oberlin College and The Oberlin Project are hosting After Fossil Fuels: The Next Economy from Oct. 6 - 8.
"After Fossil Fuels: The Next Economy" live stream tomorrow #AfterFossilFuels https://t.co/SpRIGRI1b2 @dotearth… https://t.co/VbB3H5dBP8— Oberlin Project (@Oberlin Project)1475684823.0
The three-day event will focus on the economic and political realities we face in light of a warming planet. With just one month away from the presidential election, conversation on these issues couldn't be more relevant as we have two candidates with very different plans on how to address climate change.
"The most critical issue we face is climate change," said David W. Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics Emeritus at Oberlin College and the founder and visionary behind The Oberlin Project. "Climate and energy issues are flip sides of the same coin. We are now in the transition to a very different economy and we don't have a lot of time to get this right.
"October is just one month before a critical presidential election and we need to be heard in that cacophony. The governors are important speakers [at this event] because most of the action on climate change has been at state levels and it is the states who have been the real drivers in climate policy."
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, 38th Governor of California: Governor Schwarzenegger made California a world leader in renewable energy and combating climate change with the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. He is the founder of The USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, which is committed to advancing post-partisanship to find the best ideas and solutions to benefit the people they serve.
- Bill McKibben, Founder, 350.org: Author and environmentalist McKibben was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the "alternative Nobel," in 2014. His 1989 book, The End of Nature, is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change and has appeared in 24 languages. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. The Boston Globe has said that he is "probably America's most important environmentalist."
- Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism Solutions: Lovins is president and founder of the nonprofit Natural Capitalism Solutions. A renowned author and champion of sustainable development for over 35 years, Lovins has consulted on sustainable agriculture, energy, water, security, and climate policies for scores of governments, communities, and companies worldwide. She is currently a professor of sustainable management at Bard MBA.
- Bill Ritter, 41st Governor of Colorado: Governor Ritter was elected Colorado's 41st governor in 2006. During his four-year term, Ritter established Colorado as a national and international leader in clean energy by building a new energy economy. After leaving the governor's office, Ritter founded the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, which works with state and federal policymakers to create clean energy policy throughout the country. Governor Ritter's book Powering Forward – What Everyone Should Know about America's Energy Revolution was published earlier this year.
- Michael Brune, President of the Sierra Club: The Sierra Club's executive director since 2010, Brune is one of today's most inspiring and effective environmental leaders. Prior to joining the Sierra Club, Brune led Rainforest Action Network for seven years. Under Brune's leadership, the Sierra Club has grown to more than two million supporters and is at the forefront of the drive to move beyond fossil fuels to clean energy while also protecting America's remaining wild places.
- Mindy S. Lubber, Ceres: Lubber is president and a founding board member of Ceres, a nonprofit organization that is mobilizing many of the world's largest investors and companies to take stronger action on climate change, water scarcity, and other global sustainability challenges. She directs Ceres' Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a group of 120 institutional investors managing over $14 trillion in assets focused on the business risks and opportunities of climate change. Lubber also oversees engagements with more than 100 companies, many of them Fortune 500 firms, committed to sustainable business practices and the urgency for strong climate and clean energy policies.
- Tom Steyer, NextGen Climate: Steyer is a business leader and philanthropist who believes that we have a moral responsibility to give back and help ensure that every family shares the benefits of economic opportunity, education, and a healthy climate. After founding and running a successful California business, he left to work full time on nonprofit and advocacy efforts. He now serves as president of NextGen Climate, an organization he founded in 2013 to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for all Americans.
- Mark Campanale, Carbon Tracker Initiative: Campanale is founder of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, where he is responsible for management strategy, board matters, and developing the capital markets framework analysis. Originator of the "unburnable carbon" capital markets thesis, he commissioned and edited the report "Unburnable Carbon, Are markets Carrying a Carbon Bubble?"
The conference will be the first major event held in the new Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center, a state-of-the-art conference center located within The Hotel at Oberlin. The center is on target to become one of the rare LEED Platinum hotels and conference centers, and is the cornerstone of Oberlin's Green Arts District.
Watch the entire conference via this live feed:
The European Union formally joined the Paris climate agreement today, tipping the global agreement over the much-anticipated 55 percent emissions threshold needed for entry into force. The agreement crossed the 55 country threshold in September at a UN event hosted by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The agreement will enter into force in 30 days, just ahead of the upcoming climate negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco.
After years of tireless dedication and work toward an international climate deal, the Paris agreement has finally jumped off the page and into reality. This step forward means that the Paris agreement will enter into force this year, and that's not a moment too soon.
In Paris, fossil fuels received their expiration date, and today's announcement marks a global turning point that unites the world to finally take action to tackle the climate crisis while unquestionably putting us on a path toward a modern clean energy economy.
The Sierra Club applauds the unprecedented global leadership that brought us to this historic moment and recognizes that it would not have been possible without the collective action of activists around the world working to protect our families, our communities, our air, our water and our climate.
Now that the agreement is a reality, we must finally align our global energy and economic policies to meet these goals and end subsidies for outdated fossil fuels, transition to 100 percent clean energy and stop harmful trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that run counter to the goals of the Paris agreement.