Environment

EPA Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists

“The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference on Monday in Rhode Island,” the New York Times reports.

“The move highlights widespread concern that the E.P.A. will silence government scientists from speaking publicly or conducting work on climate change. Scott Pruitt, the agency administrator, has said that he does not believe human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for the warming of the planet.”

Trump Pick Equated Belief in Global Warming to Paganism

President Trump’s nominee to be the White House senior adviser for environmental policy, Kathleen Hartnett White, in 2016 described the belief in “global warming” as a “kind of paganism” for “secular elites,” CNN reports.

“Hartnett White, currently a senior fellow at the conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, has long expressed skepticism about established climate science and once dismissed the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, calling it ‘the gas of life on this planet.'”

As head of the Council on Environmental Quality, Hartnett White would oversee environmental and energy policies across the government.

Trump Will Repeal Obama’s Signature Climate Policy

“The Trump administration announced that it would take formal steps to repeal President Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming,” the New York Times reports.

“At an event in eastern Kentucky, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in crafting the Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in 2015 and would have pushed states to move away from coal in favor of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions.”

Said Pruitt: “The war on coal is over.”

Trump Nominates Coal Lobbyist to Be No. 2 at EPA

“President Trump nominated Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist with links to outspoken deniers of established science on climate change, to help lead the Environmental Protection Agency,” the New York Times reports.

“The nomination comes at a critical moment for the E.P.A. as the agency prepares to repeal a sweeping climate change regulation known as the Clean Power Plan.”

Trump Says Puerto Rico Threw Budget ‘Out of Whack’

President Trump told Puerto Rico officials they should feel “very proud” they haven’t lost thousands of lives like in “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” the Washington Post reports.

The president also seemed to fault the devastated island for imperiling the United States’s budget by requiring hurricane relief funds:  “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.”

Vox: “He downplayed throughout his remarks how dire things are in Puerto Rico, where more than half of the people don’t have power, running water, or cellphone service two weeks after Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, tore through the island.”

Pruitt Meets Almost Exclusively with Industry Executives

New York Times: “It was just a typical day for Mr. Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general. Since taking office in February, Mr. Trump’s E.P.A. chief has held back-to-back meetings, briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates — and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates, according to a 320-page accounting of his daily schedule from February through May, the most detailed look yet at what Mr. Pruitt has been up to since he took over the agency.”

How Hurricane Maria Could Tip Florida to Democrats

James Hohmann: “More than 50 million ballots were cast by Floridians in the seven presidential elections from 1992 through 2016. If you add them all up, only 18,000 votes separate the Republicans from the Democrats. That is 0.04 percent.”

“Florida is rightfully considered the swingiest of swing states. Control of the White House in 2000 came down to a few hundred hanging chads – and one vote on the Supreme Court. The past four statewide elections – two governor’s races and two presidentials – were all decided by a single percentage point.”

“So it could be quite politically significant that tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans, maybe more, are expected to permanently move into Florida as the result of Hurricane Maria.”

Trump Still Intends to Exit Paris Climate Deal

“President Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, emphasized to foreign climate and energy officials on Monday that the U.S. still intends to withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Bloomberg reports.

“Speculation that Trump would reverse course and remain in the Paris deal was heightened after the European Union’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Canete, said Saturday in an interview that the U.S. had signaled it wants to seek new terms from within the agreement, rather than withdraw outright and then re-negotiate. But White House officials have forcefully pushed back against the idea.”

Trump Advised to Shrink National Monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “has recommended that President Trump modify 10 national monuments created by his immediate predecessors, including shrinking the boundaries of at least four western sites,” according to a copy of the report obtained by the Washington Post.

“The secretary’s set of recommendations also would change the way all 10 targeted monuments are managed. It emphasizes the need to adjust the proclamations to address concerns of local officials or affected industries, saying the administration should permit ‘traditional uses’ now restricted within the monuments’ boundaries, such as grazing, logging, coal mining and commercial fishing.“

Dueling Quotes of the Day

“That’s a false report. The president decided to pull out of the Paris accord because it’s a bad deal for the American people and it’s a bad deal for the environment.”

— National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, quoted by the Washington Post, denying the Trump administration would stay in the Paris climate deal.

“I think under the right conditions, the president said he’s open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue.”

— Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, quoted by The Hill, saying Trump could stay in the Paris climate deal under the right conditions.

Trump Won’t Withdraw from Paris Climate Deal

“Trump administration officials said Saturday the U.S. wouldn’t pull out of the Paris Agreement, offering to re-engage in the international deal to fight climate change,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The shift from President Trump’s decision in June to renegotiate the landmark accord or craft a new deal came during a meeting of more than 30 ministers led by Canada, China and the European Union in Montreal.”

However: “The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

Quote of the Day

“This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change. If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”

— Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado (R), quoted by the Miami Herald, criticizing the Trump administration for denying the connection between climate change and increasingly destructive storms.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced. To discuss the cause and effect of these storms, there’s the… place and time to do that, it’s not now.”

— EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, telling CNN that talking about climate change would be “very, very insensitive” to the people of Florida.

EPA Requires Political Sign-off for Agency Grants

“The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience,” the Washington Post reports.

“In this role, John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued. According to both career and political employees, Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for ‘the double C-word’ — climate change — and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.”