National Sierra Club News

The Latest National Sierra Club News

Here are the latest stories from The Compass, our RSS ticker of current national Sierra Club news:

Politico is reporting the absurd once again after the passing of a storm of controversy about climate change and a staff purge at DOE during the transition period.

Reaction from Sierra Club Climate Policy Director Liz Perera:

“What exactly is this office supposed to call itself now? The international C****** office? Ignoring the climate crisis will not make it go away, will not create jobs in the booming clean energy economy, and will not make our country great. Rick Perry lied to Congress about climate science to get a job at an agency he wanted to eliminate, and he has started things off with a blatant dereliction of duty. The only place the climate is not changing is in the minds of those in the Trump Administration.”

Rick Perry previously told Congress "Science tells us that the climate is changing, and that human activity, in some manner, impacts that change," and that "I am going to protect the men and women of the scientific community from anyone who would attack them."

Story excerpt from Politico:

Energy Department climate office bans use of phrase ‘climate change’

The Office of International Climate and Clean Energy is the only office at DOE with the words ‘climate’ in its name, and it may be endangered as Trump looks to reorganize government agencies.

A supervisor at the Energy Department's international climate office told staff this week not to use the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction" or "Paris Agreement" in written memos, briefings or other written communication, sources have told POLITICO.

Employees of DOE’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy learned of the ban at a meeting Tuesday, the same day President Donald Trump signed an executive order at EPA headquarters to reverse most of former President Barack Obama's climate regulatory initiatives. Officials at the State Department and in other DOE offices said they had not been given a banned words list, but they had started avoiding climate-related terms in their memos and briefings given the new administration's direction on climate change.

Read the full piece at POLITICO.

 

Liz Perera , Adam Beitman From Compass

This afternoon, Donald Trump signed an executive order to start abolishing several key Obama-era actions tackling the climate crisis and protecting clean air and water. Perhaps said best in a statement by Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, “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.” And not only is President Trump denying climate science and the realities of our energy economy with this executive order, but he is also turning his back on broad, bipartisan public support for clean energy, clean air and water safeguards, and climate action.

Donald Trump claims that climate change is a “hoax” created by the Chinese, but most Americans side with the 97% of climate scientists who agree climate change is happening and is mostly due to human activity. Just this month, Gallup found that nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) -- a record high -- believe “global warming” is mostly caused by human activities. Two-in-three Americans (66%) say they personally worry about climate change, including 45% who worry about it "a great deal." This is the highest level of concern found by Gallup since they began asking this question in 1989. And while partisan gaps in concern endure, most Trump voters do not ascribe to his dangerous and baseless views on climate change. According to a report from Yale and George Mason universities, 49% of Trump voters think “global warming” is happening while just 30% do not.

The Clean Power Plan remains popular because it protects our air, water, and health by curbing dangerous carbon pollution and reducing other toxic pollutants like mercury, smog, and sulfur dioxide. In fact, seven-in-ten American voters support the Clean Power Plan, including 89% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 47% of Republicans. In a survey by Hart Research, two-in-three Americans who voted in the 2016 presidential election (65%) said they would oppose any effort by the Trump administration to take away the EPA’s ability to set limits on carbon pollution from power plants. This includes strong majorities of Clinton voters and nearly half of Trump voters (47%). Americans understand that dismantling these air and water safeguards would help corporate polluters rake in billions at the expense of the health of our families.

While President Trump vows to increase domestic production of fossil fuels like coal, poll after poll demonstrates that Americans prefer that the country focus on clean energy sources like wind and solar. Eight-in-ten voters think the U.S. should be using more clean and renewable energy, including 85% of Democrats, 78% of independents and 76% of Republicans. And according to Gallup, 65% of Americans want the country to prioritize developing alternative sources like wind and solar over expanding production of oil, coal, and gas. Voters also overwhelmingly reject Trump’s notion that moving away from dirty fossil fuels will hurt jobs or the economy. Half of voters (51%) believe policies intended to transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean sources will lead to economic growth and more jobs, while an additional 21% do not think it will have an impact.

We can all agree that the country needs more good-paying jobs and domestic energy production, but Americans across the partisan spectrum understand that our growing clean energy economy is the best path to do just that while safeguarding our air, water, and climate. This executive order proves how out-of-step President Trump is with science, economics, and the American public.

Grace McRae From Compass

In a widely expected (but still infuriating) move signaling once again that President Trump values polluter profits and special interests over public health, today Trump signed an executive order that attempts to begin rolling back the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP, which sets carbon pollution standards for existing coal power plants, is one of our nation’s most important safeguards for tackling the climate crisis and protecting public health. Let’s make one thing clear - like Trump’s attempts at a Muslim ban and taking away health care that came before, this too will fail, and the public will stand up to fight it every step of the way.

Trump took other actions that I’ll talk about in my next post, including dismantling the Clean Power Plan, roll back Oil and Gas New Source Performance Standards, rescind the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) guidance that directs agencies to account for the climate crisis, and end efforts to reform the broken federal coal leasing program, but for now, let’s focus on the CPP and where we go from here.

The CPP protects our families and communities by curbing dangerous carbon pollution, in turn reducing other dangerous pollutants like mercury, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide. In today’s move, Trump instructed EPA to begin the process of repealing the CPP by instructing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to review and rewrite the standard.

The Executive Order further directs the EPA to not defend the Clean Power Plan, which is in the midst of a legal challenge brought by polluters and fossil fuel heavy states. However, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for the CPP. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and that the EPA had an obligation to regulate those emissions if it concluded that greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. On the basis of a robust scientific record, in 2009 the agency concluded that six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, are the primary cause of climate change, and the D.C. Circuit upheld this finding. In 2011, the Supreme Court also held that the Clean Air Act “speaks directly” to carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.  

The CPP thus rests on a solid legal foundation, and Trump is on very shaky ground in instructing the EPA to change its position in court. The Sierra Club and our allies will continue to defend it. In addition, undoing the CPP will require a rulemaking, which will set in motion a long process with lots of opportunities for the public to make our voice heard. The Sierra Club and many partner organizations will fight Trump’s action in the courts and in the streets.

Here’s another reason not to lose hope. We’re already on track to meet the climate targets of the Clean Power Plan, and we can keep making progress. This month, Sierra Club released an analysis that shows another pathway to meet the climate target we set at the Paris Climate Change conference in 2015. By continuing our grassroots work to retire coal plants and replace them with clean, renewable energy, we can reach upwards of 60 percent of the reductions needed to meet the Paris commitment. This EO won’t stop our movement or the trend - coal plants will continue to be retired and replaced by clean energy.

Unfortunately, Trump would rather line the pockets of his billionaire corporate polluter friends than help clean our air and reduce the threat of climate disruption. As usual, it seems as if Trump is living in another reality - not the one here that shows that the clean energy economy is growing rapidly in both red and blue states. The wind and solar industries are creating jobs as breakneck speed! For example, the solar sector totals over a quarter million jobs and is adding workers at a rate nearly 17 times faster than the overall economy. The Sierra Club is doubling down on its commitment to make sure that clean energy jobs provide family sustaining union careers, and to protect the livelihoods of workers and communities that have depended on fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, CPP savings for Americans involves lives and serious cash: The EPA has estimated that, by 2030, the CPP would prevent 150,000 asthma attacks and up to 6,600 premature deaths annually, providing between $55 billion to $93 billion of benefits per year. These climate and health benefits far outweigh the estimated annual costs of the plan, which are only $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion in 2030.

What’s more, elements of the CPP aimed to address environmental and economic justice by creating incentives to create good union jobs in clean energy and to protect low income communities, communities of color, and displaced fossil fuel workers. Without the CPP, these goals are much less likely to be incorporated into state government and utility planning.

Trump can’t just erase the Clean Power Plan with the stroke of a pen, but instead has to start a long process to revise it that will require public engagement. The good news is that the Clean Power Plan is on a strong legal footing and that this is just the first stage in an attempt to try and roll it back. We’ll fight Trump in the courts, in the streets, and at the state and local level across the nation, making it clear that Americans want clean energy and climate progress.

Join us.

Mary Anne Hitt From Compass

New data shows that electric vehicle (EV) sales in northeastern states rose dramatically in 2016. While overall U.S. EV sales grew 37 percent in 2016, EV sales in the states that follow California’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program (not including California) rose a remarkable 60 percent in 2016 over the previous year. These states include Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Oregon. These new figures are from a Northeast States Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) analysis of data from IHS Polk.

What these numbers show is that consumer EV rebates in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island are starting to pay off. New consumer rebates, launched just this week in New York and proposed in Maryland, will enable Northeast drivers to electrify even faster and further. And it’s not just rebates. Many states and cities provide grants to businesses, cities, and universities to install charging stations and incorporate EVs into their city vehicle fleets.

The timing of this new data released is perfect. The California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has been conducting a mid-term review of its 10-state ZEV program, is holding a hearing to conclude this review today. The ZEV program requires automakers to sell increasing numbers of EVs in the participating states. CARB board members, who do not want to shoulder the full ZEV program in only California and who are aware that EV sales are disproportionately in the Golden state, will hear the message loud and clear that it’s not just California that is committed to accelerating the ZEV market, but leaders and residents in Northwest and the Northeast as well. In fact, more than 100 mayors and other local elected officials from these regions signed letters being presented to CARB board members on Friday stating their commitment to a future with electrified transportation and their need for a strong multi-state ZEV program. These mayors include those from Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut; New Bedford and Somerville, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; Albany and Ithaca, New York; Providence, Rhode Island; Portland, Oregon; College Park, Maryland; and many more.

The President of the Boston City Council Michelle Wu said this about why she signed the letter: "The transportation sector fuels 40% of Massachusetts greenhouse gas pollution. This isn't only problematic for our climate, but for our health too, exacerbating asthma in our children and families. California's Zero Emission Vehicle standards are helping accelerate clean electric vehicle use and decrease harmful air pollution in the Commonwealth. For the health and safety of our communities, we must keep these standards strong."

Sierra Club, Environment America, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Plug In America will present these sign on letters at the CARB hearing as well as other letters with a similar message signed by state legislators and leaders in science and the health professions. They will also present petition signatures, signed by more than 10,000 Californians, urging CARB to keep the ZEV regulations strong.

Along with leaders from public interest groups, officials from Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northwest states are also traveling to California to testify at the CARB hearing. In fact, this week environmental agency directors from the Republican and Democratic-run states of Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Vermont sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt urging him to maintain strong federal light duty vehicle regulations and to “leave intact” the authority of California and the other states to create their own stronger vehicle standards.  The letter says, “Our states continue to have broad bipartisan support for the authority Congress granted [our states]...to adopt and enforce California standards that are more protective of public health and welfare.”

Meanwhile, automakers say that they are doing everything they can to meet the ZEV regulations, but complain that consumers just don’t want EVs, especially outside of California. We know that to be false. When Sierra Club conducted our Rev Up EVs survey of the consumer EV shopping experience in the 10 ZEV states last year, we found that, despite consumer enthusiasm, automakers and auto dealers are often failing to provide EV inventory, salesperson training, or accurate information about EVs on dealership lots. Some automakers and dealers are excelling in selling EVs. However, frequently, the industry fails to provide information about the thousands of dollars consumers can save from EV rebates, tax credits, and fuel savings, and many dealerships even fail to charge the vehicles and make them available for test drives. A subsequent report showed that automakers are barely bothering to advertise EVs, especially outside of California.

And yet, EV sales in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Northwest are starting to ramp up (despite low gas prices). As a happy EV driver from the Boston area, I’m experiencing this trend first-hand. For the protection of our climate and air quality, and for the ZEV state ability to require automakers to sell us cleaner cars, we owe a great debt to CARB for a strong ZEV program. We’ll continue to be with California as we grow the EV market further and faster in the ZEV states and eventually nationwide.

Sierra Club intern Maggie Newsham contributed to this article.

   Gina Coplon-Newfield From Compass

In the last few days, after incredible grassroots pressure across the country to our representatives, Congressional is voting on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Here’s what’s at stake:

As written, this is the worst bill for women in a generation. It threatens to gut maternity coverage, put egregious burden of women on Medicaid, and strip 55 million women from their birth control coverage. It also takes away healthcare from 24 million Americans, and restricts other basic coverage from millions of people. This is unfair.

And just when key issues over the lives of women and families are at stake, who is at the decision-making table? These guys.

We know access to health care matter even more in a changing environment. With increased threats of vector-borne diseases such as Zika, water quality in Flint, and other natural disasters across the country, that low income communities and the women who live within them face a greater risk of getting sick, losing their livelihoods, living in poverty, and being displaced when weather disasters strike. These communities are also the least likely to have affordable access to the healthcare they need to discover early warning signs of illnesses like those caused or exacerbated by environmental factors and get the treatments they need after illness has occurred. That is why the Sierra Club, joined by many of the nation’s largest and most influential environmental groups, sent a letter to Congress urging them to support Planned Parenthood and the ACA.

We must hold our elected officials accountable to the damage they seek to do. They want to deny coverage and strip our families of basic rights to health care. Let’s keep the pressure on and let our representatives know we’re watching:

1.      Flood the phone lines today. Call your Member of Congress TODAY and tell them you oppose TrumpCare. See this list of target for additional social media action.

2.       Join the resistance! Rallies are taking place across the country on Friday (3/24) at 4:30pm. Find one in your area here. (www.ResistanceNearMe.org)

3.       Tell your senators you oppose Judge Gorsuch’s nomination.  Sign this petition to say no to Judge Gorsuch’s nomination today. Read here for more information on Gorsuch’s positions on women and environment.

4.      Share with your friends. Now is the time to double down. We have delayed but the fight is not over. Invite your friends to join the cause through social media, emails and other channels.

There is no overstating how important this moment is for women and what it would mean for all Americans to defeat this terrible bill. Everyone should have a right to quality and affordable patient care, particularly communities and populations that are at risk from environmental health harms. Please join me in protecting women’s rights.

  A. Tianna Scozzaro From Compass

The Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch began this week, but the jury is still out on whether the Judge will be confirmed.

Since being nominated, legislators and voters have raised concerns about what Gorsuch’s potential confirmation could mean for women's rights, especially since his record shows a history of voting against women's interests.  

In Burwell v Hobby Lobby, Gorsuch ruled to give corporations the right to deny their employees contraception coverage despite the Affordable Care Act mandate. This was based on the false statement that birth control medicine and devices have the effect of “destroying a fertilized human egg.” The disregard for basic science and fact should be alarming to every single American.

Low-income communities and communities of color and the women who live within them face a greater risk of getting sick, losing their livelihoods, living in poverty, and being displaced when weather disasters strike. Women’s rights and environmental justice go hand in hand; to win the fight against environmental injustice we need to make sure all are able to lead healthy lives. Universal access to voluntary family planning and health services for women is critical to that goal.

Reproductive rights are just that: rights. Comprehensive reproductive health services are a vital way to help women plan their future and move toward full equality.

Hobby Lobby isn’t the only case where Gorsuch has sought to limit women’s right to reproductive health services. In a similar case filed to contest the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate, Gorsuch dissented from a judicial panel's decision not to rehear a case for the Little Sisters of the Poor, after their attempt to secure their own exemption from the health care law's contraception requirement.

In order to protect our environment, we must protect our democracy. That means having three functioning branches of government where all the people's interests are represented. Gorsuch, the son of perhaps the most anti-environment head of the Environmental Protection Agency in its history  (though Scott Pruitt is certainly seeking to outdo Ann Gorsuch), has a record of limiting access of everyday Americans to the courts. Serving as a check on the Executive Branch -- a check that’s more important now than ever given Donald Trump’s misguided and extreme executive actions -- the Supreme Court must be filled by people who judge impartially, guided not by corporate interests but by our Constitution.

Without access to the courts, families can’t fight back against coal plants polluting the air and causing asthma attacks in their children. Without access to the courts, families relying on bottled water after their water supply has been polluted can’t fight to protect their right to clean water. Without access to the courts, women can’t fight for their right to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Limiting citizens access to the court limits our ability to protect vital public and environmental health safeguards. Gorsuch’s dangerous judicial philosophy threatens our access to the courts in jeopardy.  

The stakes are as high as they can be, and we are all taking note. Judge Gorsuch is not qualified  to represent every American on the Supreme Court.

A. Tianna Scozzaro From Compass

On the heels of the United States retiring its 250th coal-fired power plant yesterday, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and CoalSwarm released our third annual survey of proposed coal plants worldwide, Boom and Bust 2017: Tracking The Global Coal Plant Pipeline, and the results are staggering. Spoiler alert: if you are considering investing in coal, think again.

The amount of coal-fired power plants under development dropped dramatically in 2016, including a 48 percent drop in pre-construction activity, a 62 percent drop in construction starts, a 19 percent drop in ongoing construction, and a 29 percent drop in completed projects. In China and India, where industry once forecast unending, exponential growth in coal demand, 68 gigawatts of construction is frozen at over 100 project sites. I cannot overstate how huge this is. Once a project has started construction, there is a massive economic incentive to complete it. The fact that projects are now being halted underscores how dire the situation is for the coal sector. Meanwhile, in the past two years, we have retired 64 gigawatts of coal in the EU and U.S., 35 gigawatts of which were in the U.S. alone.

What do all these numbers mean? They mean it is possible for us to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of holding global climate increase below 2°C, and potentially even the aim of keeping it below 1.5°C if the pace of coal plant retirements accelerates in the world’s richest countries and historic emissions emitters.

The good news is that, despite his blustering rhetoric, Donald Trump cannot change reality. The coal industry is collapsing, with clean energy overtaking coal across the U.S. In 2015, solar and wind accounted for two-thirds of new generating capacity across the country, with the red states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas leading on wind. The bad news? It’s not enough. If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate disruption, we cannot wait for the markets to kill coal. We must continue to demand clean air, healthy communities, and a transition beyond coal to clean energy.

The numbers may be on our side, but as anyone who lives near an existing or proposed coal plant knows, when you are staring down a deadly project it doesn’t feel like the sector is in structural decline. As the coal industry becomes increasingly desperate to find new markets, it often doubles down on corruption, intimidation tactics, and even violence in attempts to suppress resistance.

The report identifies 10 hotspots -- Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam -- which account for 75 percent of the  coal power capacity in preconstruction development outside China and India. In contrast, the remaining 25 percent is spread across 41 countries. These nations represent the frontlines, with local communities bearing the brunt of the industry’s land grabbing and strong-arm tactics. And yet, people are still fighting back.

We have already seen big victories in 2017. A Turkish court ruled in favor of local communities, cancelling the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Izdemir CPP, one of the most polluting coal-fired power plants in the region. People around the world joined a global day of action to show solidarity with Bangladeshi activists protesting the Rampal coal-fired power plant, which threatens the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and critical natural defense protecting millions of people from storm surges and cyclones. The Thai government reversed course and said it would reconsider the environmental and health studies for the Krabi coal plant after four days of protests and arrests following the project's approval. And in Japan, the Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) announced the cancellation of a 1,200-megawatt coal project, citing a fall in demand, efficiency improvements, and carbon reduction requirements, after the local governor requested an investigation into the harmful substances in coal.

These are the stories that give me hope and transform hard facts, like those compiled in the Boom and Bust 2017 report, from numbers on a page to something tangible and personal. The report shows that we can stop climate disruption before it’s too late, and communities on the ground are showing us how to do it. Now it’s up to us.

Nicole Ghio From Compass

Call your senator every day –- see sample script below Submit a letter to the editor Stop by your Senator’s district offices Amplify on social media – see sample tweets below Attend a town hall or local event with your SenatorCall Your Senator

You can make your voice heard by elected officials is many ways. Calling your Senator’s district and DC offices to demand they reject Neil Gorsuch’s nomination is one easy way. Attached is a sample script.

Call: 1-866-943-8027 See sample script below. Phone Script for Use When Calling a U.S. Senators' Office

I am calling as a Sierra Club member to urge (Senator _______) to reject Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Neil Gorsuch repeatedly ruled for corporations over people. If he cannot get 60 votes of support, then Trump should pick a new nominee. Thanks for your time and please let your boss know that I urge (her/him) to oppose Judge Gorsuch for the US Supreme Court.

Submit a Letter To the Editor

Another important way to tell your senator to reject Gorsuch is to submit a letter to the editor to your local or state paper. Your Senator’s staff monitor the papers.

Stop By Your Senator’s Nearest District Office

We encourage you to drop by. You likely will not speak with the senator themselves, but you can let the staff know why you want the Senator to oppose Judge Gorsuch. And leave some information behind. After you do this, we encourage you to tweet at your senator and use the hashtag #StopGorsuch.

Attend a Townhall

The Town Hall Project makes it easy to find out when your representatives are hosting town halls in your areas. These events are often great opportunities to raise the issues you most care about. Find a town hall to attend.

Sample Tweets Trump's Supreme Court pick thinks employers should ask women about pregnancy plans, http://www.teenvogue.com/story/neil-gorsuch-former-student-claims-women-pregnancy-plans (via @TeenVogue) #StopGorsuchJudge Neil Gorsuch Made Some Questionable Comments About Women & Maternity Leave http://www.refinery29.com/2017/03/146021/neil-gorsuch-maternity-leave-women-comments-law-student-claims?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitter_share (via @refinery29) #StopGorsuchGorsuch believes that judges should have more power to overrule scientists & policy experts. http://www.insidesources.com/counterpoint-gorsuch-climate-change/ #StopGorsuchGorsuch Supreme Court nomination: high stakes for the planet http://www.ecowatch.com/gorsuch-supreme-court-nomination-2321062011.html #StopGorsuchTake Action: Oppose Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court #StopGorsuch https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/National?actionId=AR0067620&id=70131000001DsbSAASAnti-environment, anti-women, & anti-worker #SCOTUS nominee #Gorsuch to testify before Senate Judiciary today. Tell your senators to #StopGorsuch https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/National?actionId=AR0067620&id=70131000001DsbSAASTrump’s Supreme Court Nominee is bad news for the planet. Tell your senators to #StopGorsuch https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/National?actionId=AR0067620&id=70131000001DsbSAASHow Trump's Supreme Court pick quietly wipes out environmental cases (via @rebleber) #StopGorsuch http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/03/neil-gorsuch-donald-trump-supreme-court-standing Throughout his career, Gorsuch has found creative ways of throwing judicial roadblocks in front of enviro litigation (via @rebleber) http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/03/neil-gorsuch-donald-trump-supreme-court-standing #StopGorsuchNeil Gorsuch does not belong on the Supreme Court http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/03/19/neil-gorsuch-does-not-belong-supreme-court/elq2QqQBdJW5Fh0s2isXhJ/story.html?event=event25 #StopGorsuchGorsuch’s extreme legal positions could severely limit the EPA’s ability to address climate change. #StopGorsuch http://www.insidesources.com/counterpoint-gorsuch-climate-change/Trump is poised to dismantle environmental protections. Gorsuch will likely be a rubber stamp. #StopGorsuch http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/323209-epas-environmental-justice-head-resignsGorsuch believes that judges should have more power to overrule scientists and policy experts. #StopGorsuch http://www.insidesources.com/counterpoint-gorsuch-climate-change/Gorsuch would continue a movement to limit environmental cases in the courts. #StopGorsuch http://www.insidesources.com/counterpoint-gorsuch-climate-change/More Information Alliance for Justice Tool Kit PFAW blog Real People, Real Lives: The Harm Caused By Judge Gorsuch Call: 1-866-943-8027 Find and attend a town hall.

Courtney Hight From Compass

Today, the Trump Administration released its 2018 budget proposals for discretionary spending and it’s not looking good for public health or the environment. Among those proposals, Donald Trump has called for attacks that would effectively disable the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior-- which is good for no one except money hungry polluters and their political allies. Trump’s plans for the EPA’s budget includes decimating its staff and many of its life-saving programs. Additionally, the proposals for the Department of the Interior sharply reduce the budget to protect America’s parks, public lands and wildlife, while undermining valuable programs to engage kids in service and learning outside, a critical contributor to the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy.

Trump’s proposed budget eliminates funding used to protect America’s most iconic bodies of water, like the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, while also jeopardizing some of the nation’s most beloved parks and wildlife.

It would slash support for Superfund programs, which facilitate the cleanup of sites contaminated by hazardous chemicals. There are approximately 1300 Superfund sites that still need to be cleaned up and the new budget puts half of these sites at risk, places that are inhabited primarily by low-income groups, tribes and communities of color. In fact, 319 out of 512 Indian Reservations are within 500 miles of a Superfund Site. The cuts would also hinder EPA’s ability to monitor air quality and check for signs of deadly and toxic pollution like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, which put communities of color and low-income communities at the highest risk.

Trump also would strip funding that enables the U.S. to meet its commitment to the Green Climate Fund, hampering our ability to continue to lead the world in climate action. He would also try to jump start making Yucca Mountain a nuclear waste dump, slash innovating clean energy research efforts (ARPA-E), eliminate funding for afterschool and summer programs for at risk and underserved youth run by park and recreation agencies ( 21st Century Community

Learning Centers program), put the EPA programs that respond to crisis like Flint at risk, and make additional cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Transportation Safety Administration in order to funnel more than $2.5 billion into the ineffective boondoggle of a border wall.

If that’s not enough, here’s what else the budget proposal does:

Kills 3,200 direct federal EPA jobs and countless jobs connected to EPA and state environmental projects at the state level

Cuts of $2.6 billion, or 31 percent, from the 2017 budget which had already been cut by 2 billion from 2010 levels

Eliminates funding for specific regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Chesapeake Bay Cleanup program, which are helping to clean up these major bodies of water that provide drinking water and recreation related jobs to many Americans.

Eliminates of Energy Star, America’s favorite program for saving money through energy efficiency; the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, which conducts research on how chemicals affect our bodies; and infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages, which provides sanitation services for rural communities in Alaska.

Eliminates funding for Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts, making it nearly impossible for America to continue being a global leader in clean energy and setting us backwards on the path to fight the climate crisis.

Cut environmental education programs that were created through the National Environmental Education Act (NEEA), under the Bush administration in 1990. The NEEA has been a highly effective tool for improving student performance in science and math and protecting public health. It helps build 21st century skills and promote job training, innovation and leadership skills, utilizing public-private partnerships to leverage scarce federal resources.

Increases  funding for dirty fuel development on our public lands and waters, while halting the creation of any new parks or public lands, eliminating outdoor summer programs for at-risk kids, and abandoning the preservation of important historic sites like the Betsy Ross House.

Cuts $1.5 billion from the Department of the Interior, further starving agencies like the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The lack of funding threatens to undermine decades of work by the FWS to bring endangered species, like the Bald Eagle, back from the brink of extinction, and to manage wildlife refuges across the country.

Eliminates the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance and Low-income Home Energy Assistance Programs which help millions of low-income Americans stay warm and keep the lights on.  

This list goes on-- read more about what’s at stake here and help us #SaveTheEPA for the future of our communities and our children.

Liz Perera From Compass

Scott Pruitt shocked the world last week when he declared that carbon pollution was not the primary driver of the climate crisis. But what was even more shocking was that he clearly and repeatedly misled Congress about his intentions on this critical issue during his confirmation process to serve as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt’s misleading testimony before the Senate is actually part of a much larger pattern of him misleading Congress.

Pruitt is a baseball fan, so let’s put it this way: Three strikes and you’re out. He has proven that he is unfit to do the job he is legally required to do—and unwilling to do it even if he could—meaning he ought to resign. Failing that, the Senate should take action to remove him from his position because, among the most obvious and readily identifiable instances, Pruitt has misled Congress at least three times 

Strike One: Conducting official state business over a private email accountStrike Two: His position on climate change and the EPA’s ability to regulate CO2Strike Three: His history of actively promoting mercury pollution as attorney general of Oklahoma

Pruitt Misled Congress About His Emails:

In written testimony to Congress in response to a question from Senator Cory Booker, Pruitt declared that "I use only my official OAG [Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General] email address and government issued phone to conduct official business."

The Associated Press (AP) revealed that claim to be false when select Pruitt correspondence was ordered released to the public by a court after public interest groups had requested it.

According to the AP, multiple instances of such private electronic communication for purposes of conducting public business have been uncovered, “including a 2013 exchange with a petroleum industry lobbyist who emailed Pruitt and a lawyer on the attorney general's staff.”

Strike One: Pruitt misled Congress about his use a private email account to conduct official state business.

Pruitt Misled Congress About Climate Change and Regulating Carbon Pollution:

Last week, Pruitt told CNBC that he does not believe carbon dioxide is a “primary contributor” to the climate crisis.

But that's a very different tune from the one he sang to Congress. In written testimony, Pruitt certified that “I also believe the Administrator has an important role when it comes to the regulation of carbon dioxide, which I will fulfill consistent with Massachusetts v. EPA and the agency's Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases respective of the applicable statutory framework established by Congress.”

Separately, in an exchange with Senator Bernie Sanders, Pruitt said “Senator, I believe that the [EPA] administrator has a very important role to perform in regulating CO2. 

By offering and affirming that the EPA administrator has an important role in regulating carbon dioxide in light of the EPA’s Endangerment Finding (established in the Massachusetts vs. EPA Supreme Court case), Pruitt clearly acknowledged the role carbon pollution plays in driving climate change.

During separate questioning Pruitt also explicitly acknowledged the legitimacy of the endangerment finding, saying: “The endangerment finding is there and needs to be enforced and respected.” When pressed by Senator Markey on whether he would review or alter the finding if confirmed, Pruitt affirmed “There is nothing that I know that would cause a review at this point.”

Pruitt clearly made the case to the Senate at the time that he had no reason to reverse the finding that carbon pollution poses a danger by causing climate change, whereas now he says publicly that it does not pose a danger, actively denying the role of carbon pollution as a dangerous climate pollutant.

Strike Two: Pruitt misled Congress about his views on climate change and, more importantly, how carbon pollution should be regulated by the EPA as an air pollutant in light of Supreme Court rulings and the Agency’s “Endangerment Finding”.

Pruitt Misled Congress on His Greenwashing of Toxic Mercury:

In his testimony to Congress, Pruitt denied he had ever argued that the EPA should not regulate mercury pollution in his position suing the agency as Attorney General of Oklahoma. Specifically, Pruitt said “there was no argument that we made from the State perspective that mercury is not a hazardous air pollutant under Section 112.”

But the truth is that in legal filings, Pruitt did make the argument that the EPA was breaking the law by regulating mercury and other toxic air emissions. Most damningly, Pruitt signed a legal brief contending that that the benefits of protections against mercury pollution are “small, uncertain, and in most instances unquantifiable.”

Strike Three: Pruitt attempted the absurd task of arguing that mercury is not toxic, and then tried to cover it up.

Scott Pruitt: Three Strikes—You’re Out!

(Want even more examples of Pruitt misleading Congress? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s post from late January.)

Conclusion: Pruitt has proven that he is unfit to do the job of protecting the American people from toxic pollution, and he misled Congress repeatedly during his confirmation process. For these reasons, he ought to resign. If he refuses, the Senate should take action on its own and remove him from his position. 

Liz Perera , Adam Beitman From Compass

Header photo by Vero Villa

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