Environment

Pruitt Suggests Warmer Climate Is a Good Thing

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt questioned in an interview with KSNV-TV if rising global temperatures are actually harmful to humans.

He also suggested that global warming could be seen as a good thing for people, adding that civilizations tend to flourish when it’s warm.

Said Pruitt: “I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing.”

Zinke Says Florida’s ‘Coastal Currents’ Are Different

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke defended his surprise decision to exempt Florida waters from the Trump administration’s push for new offshore drilling, telling CNN that the state’s coastline is unique.

Said Zinke: “The coastal currents are different, the layout of where the geology is.”

“Critics have called his decision to exempt Florida’s waters from the Trump administration’s plan for new US offshore oil drilling political favoritism to benefit Republican Gov. Rick Scott. It came just days after the proposal for new drilling off most of the US coastline was announced.”

Quote of the Day

“In the East, it could be the coldest New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old global warming that our country, but not other countries, was going to pay trillions of dollars to protect against. Bundle up!”

— President Trump, on Twitter.

EPA Officials Leaving In Droves

“More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration,” the New York Times reports.

“Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.”

Trump’s EPA Slows Enforcement Actions

New York Times: “Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, has said the Trump administration’s high-profile regulatory rollback does not mean a free pass for violators of environmental laws. But as the Trump administration moves from one attention-grabbing headline to the next, it has taken a significant but less-noticed turn in the enforcement of federal pollution laws.”

“An analysis of enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters like those in East Liverpool.”

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.“