Environment

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.”

Pruitt Carries Out EPA Agenda In Secret

“When career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency are summoned to a meeting with the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, at agency headquarters, they no longer can count on easy access to the floor where his office is,” the New York Times reports.

“Doors to the floor are now frequently locked, and employees have to have an escort to gain entrance. Some employees say they are also told to leave behind their cellphones when they meet with Mr. Pruitt, and are sometimes told not to take notes.”

“Mr. Pruitt, according to the employees, who requested anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs, often makes important phone calls from other offices rather than use the phone in his office, and he is accompanied, even at E.P.A. headquarters, by armed guards, the first head of the agency to ever request round-the-clock security.”

Federal Agency Censors Use of Term ‘Climate Change’

“A series of emails obtained by The Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change.”

“A missive from Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of soil health, lists terms that should be avoided by staff and those that should replace them. ‘Climate change’ is in the ‘avoid’ category, to be replaced by ‘weather extremes’. Instead of ‘climate change adaption’, staff are asked to use ‘resilience to weather extremes’. The primary cause of human-driven climate change is also targeted, with the term ‘reduce greenhouse gases’ blacklisted in favor of ‘build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency’. Meanwhile, ‘sequester carbon’ is ruled out and replaced by ‘build soil organic matter’”.

Scientists Fear Trump Will Suppress Climate Report

New York Times: “The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration. The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited.”

“Scientists say they fear that the Trump administration could change or suppress the report. But those who challenge scientific data on human-caused climate change say they are equally worried that the draft report, as well as the larger National Climate Assessment, will be publicly released.”

Schwarzenegger Will Lead Climate Change Effort

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), “flexing his muscles in an effort to counter President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, will unveil an ambitious new national effort Friday aimed at providing lawmakers with a comprehensive set of tools to pass substantive climate change legislation at the state and local level,” Politico reports.

Pruitt Traveled Home Frequently at Taxpayer Expense

“Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, traveled to his home state, Oklahoma, 10 times over three months this year, largely at taxpayer expense,” the New York Times reports.

“The findings from the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit group founded by former E.P.A. officials, are drawn from Mr. Pruitt’s calendar and the travel expenses he has submitted for reimbursement. Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the documents show Mr. Pruitt spent 43 out of 92 days from March through May in Oklahoma or traveling to or from the state.”