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U.S. Department of the Interior building. Kmf164 / CC-BY-SA-2.5

Department of the Interior, or Ministry of Doublespeak?

Defenders of Wildlife recently obtained a copy of Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's "Top 10 Priorities" for his department (text version). These priorities are reflected in the department's recently leaked draft 2018–2022 Strategic Plan, but the priorities themselves are noteworthy for their strikingly euphemistic tone.

They are written to evoke a responsive, progressive Interior Department serving the country by protecting our natural heritage and ensuring sensible use of our natural resources. And there's the problem. All ten priorities are entirely disconnected from Interior's actions to date. Following is our take on the doublespeak nature of the secretary's Top 10 Priorities.

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Election Wins Give Climate Action a Boost

The wave of state and local success for Democrats across the country during Tuesday's election also brought a surge of good news for climate and clean energy.

New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy, who vowed that his state will rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and made aggressive renewable energy targets part of his campaign platform, was easily elected governor. In Virginia, voters held off Koch-funded Republican Ed Gillespie's gubernatorial bid, rejecting his campaign rhetoric to bolster offshore drilling and keep states from fulfilling the Paris agreement.

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Marine Sanctuaries: The Secret Report the White House Doesn’t Want You to Read

By Pete Stauffer

It's a simple choice, really. Do we want our National Marine Sanctuaries to be used for recreation, education, fishing and ecological protection? Or do we want to hand these ocean gems over the oil and gas industry so they can expand offshore drilling off our coasts?

For the past six months, the federal administration has been studying this very question. Following the Trump administration's Executive Order: The America First Energy Strategy, the Department of Commerce began a review of five National Marine Sanctuaries (including all four off California's coast) and six Marine Monuments to determine if these sites might be exploited for energy development. As part of the process, they invited the public to share their thoughts on the matter. The input received was unequivocal: don't mess with our sanctuaries!

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Energy
Surfrider Foundation / Twitter

Offshore Oil Drilling May Be Coming to a Coastline Near You

By Pete Stauffer

It's nearly impossible to convince certain people, most notably leaders of our federal administration, that bold action is needed on climate change, but recent events have certainly made a compelling case.

Three major hurricanes have battered U.S. coasts in recent months, impacting the lives of millions of people and causing billions of dollars in damage. Although no single storm event can be blamed directly on climate change, scientific experts agree that the warming climate and ocean waters contribute to the frequency and scale of hurricanes—putting the residents, natural resources and economic security of coastal communities at elevated risk. This makes the Trump administration's proposal to expand offshore oil drilling off U.S. coasts all the more dubious.

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Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) speaks about the People's Budget on the House floor in 2016. youtube.com

7 Key Environmental Amendments to Watch

As debate continues on the spending bill, dozens of environmental amendments could receive votes. Here are some to watch:

Harvey Response

Many amendments relate to the role of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the funding of its crucial functions. In light of the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, some of these amendments highlight the importance role of the EPA in disaster zones—and the dangers of starving it of the funding it needs to do this work.

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Americans Red and Blue Unite Against Trump's Plan to Drill the Atlantic

By Jeff Turrentine

President Trump, to put it mildly, hasn't worked too hard to bring Democrats and Republicans together on many issues. By almost any account, the partisan divide in this country today is wider than it's been in living memory, certainly wider than it was before he took office.

But on one issue, at least, the president seems to have bridged that divide and fostered some much-needed unity. When it comes to endorsing Trump's plan to open up the Atlantic coast to oil and gas drilling, citizens in both red and blue states—as well as their elected officials—are speaking with one voice.

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Energy
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Total's Application to Drill Near Amazon Reef Rejected

Brazil's environmental agency (Ibama) rejected Tuesday the application for a license to drill in the mouth of the Amazon Basin by the French company Total (operating in a joint venture with BP). This is an important step towards defending the Amazon Reef; a unique and largely unexplored ecosystem—Total's closest block is only 8km away from the reef.

In a statement published Tuesday, Ibama's president, Suely Araujo, said that Total had not provided adequate information about the environmental impact of the project, making it impossible to grant the license. The company admits in their own Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that there is a 30 percent probability of oil reaching the reef in case of a spill.

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Energy

Trump Green Lights Arctic Drilling Project in Polar Bear Habitat

The Trump administration released an environmental review Thursday of Hilcorp Alaska's Arctic offshore drilling development. Hilcorp plans to build a 9-acre artificial island and 5.6-mile pipeline in the Beaufort Sea for its offshore drilling project. The Trump administration's draft environmental impact statement proposes to greenlight the dangerous drilling plan, which would be a first for federal waters in the Arctic.

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Energy
Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace

Greenpeace Activists Interrupt Operations at Arctic Oil Drilling Site

Peaceful activists, including one American, from a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, have stalled Statoil's oil operations in the Barents Sea off the Norwegian coast. The activists entered the exclusion zone of Statoil's oil rig, Songa Enabler in the Barents Sea with kayaks and inflatable boats, while swimmers protested in the water with banners.

The activists plan to sustain the peaceful protest to stall Statoil's oil drilling as long as possible to send a message that the Norwegian government is failing its commitments to Norway's constitution and the Paris agreement. They are also displaying a constructed giant globe in front of the rig with written statements to the government.

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