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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Next, Trump picked former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who once pledged to eliminate the Department of Energy, to run that very department.
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.
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.
"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.
"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."
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:
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."
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.
"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 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.