The EPA announced that it will not regulate or limit a toxic chemical compound linked to infant brain damage in drinking water, Axios reports.
The New York Times notes the EPA has revoked or rolled back 66 environmental regulations.
“The Democratic National Committee’s council on climate change irked party leadership when it published policy recommendations this month that ventured beyond presidential candidate Joe Biden’s plan,” Reuters reports.
“The party tension shows the tricky nature of climate politics as Biden seeks to court young and more progressive voters without turning off voters in energy-producing swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where a boom in shale gas drilling had created blue-collar jobs.”
“President Trump will sign an executive order Thursday instructing agencies to waive long-standing environmental laws to speed up federal approval for new mines, highways, pipelines and other projects given the current ‘economic emergency,'” the Washington Post reports.
“In its rush to roll back the most significant climate policy enacted by Barack Obama — mileage standards designed to reduce pollution from cars — the Trump administration ignored warnings that its new rule has serious flaws,” the Washington Post reports.
“The behind-the-scenes-skirmish in late March between career employees and Trump appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency highlights the extent to which Trump officials are racing to reverse environmental policies by the end of the president’s first term.”
“The Trump administration will not impose any limits on perchlorate, a toxic chemical compound that contaminates water and has been linked to fetal and infant brain damage,” the New York Times reports.
“The decision by Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the EPA, appears to defy a court order that required the agency to establish a safe drinking-water standard for the chemical by the end of June. The policy, which acknowledges that exposure to high levels of perchlorate can cause I.Q. damage but opts nevertheless not to limit it, could also set a precedent for the regulation of other chemicals.”
“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) will co-chair a task force for Joe Biden’s campaign on climate change, a move that adds progressive credentials to the former vice president’s effort to unify the party ahead of the general election,” CNN reports.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent environmentalists, endorsed Joe Biden for president “after extensive private conversations in which Mr. Biden signaled he would make fighting climate change a central cause of his administration,” the New York Times reports.
It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. My wife, Sara Goddard, reviews the fascinating history:
This background is important because it underscores the institutional underpinnings of that first Earth Day. The motivating force of the first celebration wasn’t a pack of young activists, but seasoned legislators. Even the day, April 22nd, was carefully orchestrated to fit within this institutional framework: Occurring during college spring break, Nelson selected that day to ensure maximum student participation.
This top-down organizational foundation worked in an era before the politicization of the environment set in. The first Earth Day was an enormous success not simply because of the impressive nationwide turnout. It was more than just a celebration: it was the catalyst for the formation of the EPA and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Now imagine Republican and Democratic lawmakers working today to organize and lead an environmental summit. It’s a fantasy. In our current highly charged world of reluctant politicians, well-funded lobbyists, and influential climate deniers, we must look to other instigators for substantive change.
Even though we’re physically separated, Sara has identified six ways we can come together in spirit to celebrate Earth Day at home this year.
Associated Press: “An unplanned grand experiment is changing Earth. As people across the globe stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, the air has cleaned up, albeit temporarily. Smog stopped choking New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, and India’s getting views of sights not visible in decades. Nitrogen dioxide pollution in the northeastern United States is down 30%. Rome air pollution levels from mid-March to mid-April were down 49% from a year ago. Stars seems more visible at night.”
“The Trump administration is expected on Thursday to weaken regulations on the release of mercury and other toxic metals from oil and coal-fired power plants, another step toward rolling back health protections in the middle of a pandemic,” the New York Times reports.
“The final Environmental Protection Agency rule does not eliminate restrictions on the release of mercury, a heavy metal linked to brain damage. Environmental lawyers said the new method of calculating the costs and benefits of curbing mercury pollution would most likely destroy the legal underpinnings of controls on mercury and many other pollutants.”
“The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to announce its final rule to roll back Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards, relaxing efforts to limit climate-warming tailpipe pollution and virtually undoing the government’s biggest effort to combat climate change,” the New York Times reports.
“The new rule would allow vehicles on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the cars than they would have under the Obama standards and hundreds of millions of tons more than will be emitted under standards being implemented in Europe and Asia.”
“An official at the Interior Department embarked on a campaign that has inserted misleading language about climate change — including debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial — into the agency’s scientific reports,” according to documents reviewed by the New York Times.
“The misleading language appears in at least nine reports, including environmental studies and impact statements on major watersheds in the American West that could be used to justify allocating increasingly scarce water to farmers at the expense of wildlife conservation and fisheries.”
For the second consecutive legislative session, Oregon Senate Republicans have walked out of the Capitol to block passage of a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill, the Statesman Journal reports.
“Democrats hold a supermajority of 18 members, but a walkout denies the Senate a two-thirds quorum of 20 needed to conduct any business on the floor. Senate Republicans deployed this tactic twice during the 2019 session — first in protest of a multibillion dollar education revenue package and then against House Bill 2020, the previous cap-and-trade bill.”
“The biggest difference between this session and 2019 is that the bill has enough support to pass the full Senate.”
“There are dozens of climate models, and for decades they’ve agreed on what it would take to heat the planet by about 3° Celsius. It’s an outcome that would be disastrous—flooded cities, agricultural failures, deadly heat—but there’s been a grim steadiness in the consensus among these complicated climate simulations,” Bloomberg reports.
“Then last year, unnoticed in plain view, some of the models started running very hot. The scientists who hone these systems used the same assumptions about greenhouse-gas emissions as before and came back with far worse outcomes. Some produced projections in excess of 5°C, a nightmare scenario.”
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s wife appeared to publicly break with her husband over support for Greta Thunberg’s climate change activism, Politico reports.
Said actress Louise Linton, in a now-deleted Instagram post: “I stand with Greta on this issue. (I don’t have a degree in economics either).”
Out next month: Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change: How to Understand and Respond to Climate Science Deniers by John Cook.
“When it comes to climate change, this truly is a golden age—of fake news, post-truths, pluralistic ignorance, conspiracy theories, a willfully ignorant administration, and the Cranky Uncle. You know him. We all have one. That exasperating Thanksgiving blusterer digs in his heels even as the foundation of his denial thaws faster than the Arctic ice caps.”
“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sharply criticized the financial credentials of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Thursday, saying the 17-year-old should study economics at college before lecturing the U.S. on fossil fuel investments,” CNBC reports.
Said Mnuchin: “Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused… After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us.”
“The Trump administration will finalize a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and other water bodies, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had shackled them with onerous and unnecessary burdens,” the New York Times reports.
“From Day 1 of his administration, President Trump vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s ‘Waters of the United States’ regulation, which had frustrated rural landowners. His new rule, which will be implemented in the coming weeks, is the latest step in the Trump administration’s push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections.”
Related: What are forever chemicals?
Goddard spent more than a decade as managing director and chief operating officer of a prominent investment firm in New York City. Previously, he was a policy adviser to a U.S. Senator and Governor.
Goddard is also co-author of You Won - Now What? (Scribner, 1998), a political management book hailed by prominent journalists and politicians from both parties. In addition, Goddard's essays on politics and public policy have appeared in dozens of newspapers across the country.
Goddard earned degrees from Vassar College and Harvard University. He lives in New York with his wife and three sons.
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