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American farmers use chlorpyrifos, a pesticide tied to brain and nervous system issues, on crops such as apples, broccoli, corn and strawberries. Stephanie Chapman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jessica Corbett

In a ruling welcomed by public health advocates, a federal court on Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop stalling a potential ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, giving regulators until mid-July to make a final decision.

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Acting Secretary David Bernhardt visited Watson Hopper Inc., a manufacturer of rigs and oil drilling equipment in Hobbs, New Mexico on Feb. 6, 2019. Tami A. Heilemann / DOI

Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.

"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.

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Andrew Wheeler at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Jan. 16. CSPAN / YouTube screenshot

The Senate voted to confirm former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as official head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Thursday.

Wheeler has run the agency since July, when he replaced former administrator Scott Pruitt following a resignation prompted by numerous scandals. As acting administrator, Wheeler has confirmed the fears of environmentalists that he would be a "smarter" threat, pursuing President Donald Trump's deregulatory agenda without the distraction of Pruitt's more obvious corruption.

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Chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate that comes from the same chemical family as sarin nerve gas, is used on foods such as strawberries. bluecinema / Getty Images

Health and labor organizations will have to argue again in court that chlorpyrifos, a brain-damaging pesticide, must be banned from all food uses, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. The decision comes four months after Andrew Wheeler's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the court to rehear the case either by the three-judge panel that originally banned chlorpyrifos in 2018, or by a panel of 11 judges.

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NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / Getty Images

Disgraced former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has managed to add to his scandal count even after his resignation.

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EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., where six racist messages have been found on a shared whiteboard since August. krblokhin / Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s chief of staff assured employees on Monday that the agency would investigate after a series of racist messages were written on a whiteboard in EPA headquarters, ABC News reported.

"EPA has no tolerance for racism and will investigate and hold the individuals who are spreading these messages responsible. Concerning the most recent instance, EPA is taking every measure to both find who did this and protect our employees," chief of staff Ryan Jackson said in the email.

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NurPhoto / Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) climate change page might be gone, permanently.

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Yosemite National Park on July 22. Sherman Hogue / DOI

One of the Department of Interior's (DOI) internal watchdog investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's behavior while in office has been referred to the Justice Department, which only happens when investigators determine there might have been a criminal violation, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Two sources familiar with the investigation broke the news to the press, but did not specify which of the probes into Zinke's actions was involved. A senior White House official only told The Washington Post that the investigation revolved around whether Zinke "used his office to help himself."

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. William Campbell / Corbis / Getty Images

The internal watchdog of the Department of the Interior (DOI) concluded Thursday that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated department travel policies by having his family members ride in government vehicles, The Hill reported.

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Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler testified Aug. 1 before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), might continue to oversee the office without Senate confirmation until President Trump's term is over, according to reports from Bloomberg and the Huffington Post.

The former coal lobbyist has been the temporary EPA boss for more than 100 days ever since his predecessor Scott Pruitt resigned in July after a long list of ethics scandals.

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Water and sediment sampling operations during the EPA's response to the Enbridge oil spill on Morrow Lake, MI in 2010. USEPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is delaying the roll out of a controversial science proposal after receiving nearly 600,000 comments on the plan, The Hill reported Wednesday.

The proposal would have limited the kinds of studies the EPA could use to make regulations to only studies that relied on data that was publicly available and therefore reproducible. But scientists and environmentalists warned that would exclude many important public health studies that relied on confidential patient medical records, ABC News reported.

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