Tag Archives: EPA

EPA dismisses half of key board’s scientific advisers; Interior suspends more than 200 advisory panels

Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, THE WASHINGTON POST

Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department are overhauling a slew of outside advisory boards that inform how their agencies assess the science underpinning policies, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the federal government evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decided to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is “reviewing the charter and charge” of more than 200 advisory boards, committees and other entities both within and outside his department. EPA and Interior officials began informing current members of the move Friday, and notifications continued over the weekend.

Pruitt’s move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), which advises EPA’s prime scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity, and addresses important scientific questions. All of the people being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that “no one has been fired or terminated” and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.

“We’re not going to rubber-stamp the last administration’s appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool,” Freire said. “This approach is what was always intended for the board, and we’re making a clean break with the last administration’s approach.”

Separately, Zinke has postponed all outside committees as he reviews their composition and work. The review will effectively freeze the work of the Bureau of Land Management’s 38 resource advisory councils, along with other panels focused on a sweep of issues, from one assessing the threat of invasive species to the science technical advisory panel for Alaska’s North Slope.

Read more at: EPA dismisses half of key board’s scientific advisers; Interior suspends more than 200 advisory panels – The Washington Post

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Habitats, Land Use, Wildlife

EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades

Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin, THE WASHINGTON POST

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday evening that its website would be “undergoing changes” to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information.

One of the websites that appeared to be gone had been cited to challenge statements made by the EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt. Another provided detailed information on the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan, including fact sheets about greenhouse gas emissions on the state and local levels and how different demographic groups were affected by such emissions.

The changes came less than 24 hours before thousands of protesters were set to march in Washington and around the country in support of political action to push back against the Trump administration’s rollbacks of former president Barack Obama’s climate policies.

Read more at: EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades – The Washington Post

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Op-Ed: Marching for science on Earth Day

Don McEnhill, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Please join us today at noon at Julliard Park in Santa Rosa for a rally to hear five local scientists and the western U.S. director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and then join us for the March for Science.

On Earth Day 2016, 174 countries and the European Union signed the Paris Climate Agreement, with the United States, China and other nations pledging to sign. It was a jubilant day for the Earth. It marked a high point in turning around our Earth’s future from the bleak projections of our climate scientists to a brighter future of a cooler planet. The world’s governments led by the United States clearly agreed with scientists and signed the agreement to save our earth and the human population from devastating effects of climate change.

Today’s Earth Day celebrations find scientists under attack by the new administration in Washington, while President Donald Trump actively ignores science and puts your health and children’s future at risk. Earth Day 2017 couldn’t be a more polar opposite to 2016, as the environmental protections for clean water and clean air are being gutted, and we’re en route to backing out of the Paris agreement.

The election of Trump installed a president who stated in 2015, “Environmental protection, what they do is such a disgrace; every week they come out with new regulations,” and he vowed to “abolish” the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump’s actions to date are a laundry list of anti-regulatory actions that CEOs have been clamoring for because they supposedly hold back U.S. businesses from “getting America back to work.”

A closer look at Trump’s environmental rollbacks to date tells a different tale. It’s not about jobs or helping blue-collar workers. It’s really about increasing corporate profits. The economics of pollution are simple. Every dollar spent controlling pollution is one dollar less in profits. It is very lucrative to pass the costs of doing business on to the public, which is left to breathe dirtier air and drink more polluted water. So are people really winning with these rollbacks based on attacks on well-accepted science? Only if you own a lot of stock in a polluting corporation. Then you can cash in.

The proposed rollbacks on clean water are stunning. HR 465, the Water Quality Improvement Act of 2017, allows polluters to claim that the costs of cleaning up dirty water are too high and relieves polluters of regulations allowing more dirty water into rivers like the Russian River. HR 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017, removes all regulations over the use of pesticides near rivers like the Russian River, despite the fact that the chemicals pollute our drinking water and kill our fish. HR 1430, the HONEST and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017, actually prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from using scientific evidence in the decision-making process.

These attacks on the environment and ultimately our health are just the tip of the iceberg. Trump can only get away with it if we ignore science. We need to remind the people back in Washington that we demand the best available science be used to make decisions and reject the anti-science rhetoric. We need to support scientists who have spent years in school and who work on the world’s toughest problems for everyone’s benefit.

For Riverkeeper, this wasn’t an Earth Day to plant trees by our river but to organize the Santa Rosa March for Science in support of the scientists and their work that we depend on every day to protect and regenerate our river.

Please join us today at noon at Julliard Park in Santa Rosa for a rally to hear five local scientists and the western U.S. director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and then join us for the March for Science. A number of organizations will have ideas for actions you can take to resist the war on science and to strengthen our environmental protections — for our health and our environment.

Don McEnhill is executive director of Russian Riverkeeper.

Source: Close to Home: Marching for science on Earth Day to protect your health | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Water

EPA chief Scott Pruitt says CO2 not a primary contributor to warming

Tom DiChristopher, CNBC

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“But we don’t know that yet. … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

The statement contradicts the public stance of the agency Pruitt leads. The EPA’s webpage on the causes of climate change states, “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.”

Pruitt’s view is also at odds with the conclusion of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Read more at: EPA chief Scott Pruitt says CO2 not a primary contributor to warming

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

Trump’s budget cuts: Even worse than you thought

Dan Farber, LEGAL PLANET

As you dive into the details, things keep looking worse.Trump is proposing huge cuts to EPA and other agencies. That’s bad enough. We’re beginning to learn more details, and the message is grim.  While these cuts may not emerge from Congress at the end of the day, they do express the Administration’s goals. In particular, they demonstrate that the Administration is deeply hostile to environmental science and that it lacks any interest in continuing to clean up our air and water.

Here’s what we know as of now:

Environmental Science. I have posted previously about the threat to scientific research posed by the Trump Administration. The Administration’s attack on environmental science – climate science in particular – is now taking concrete form.

  • NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose 26% ($126 million) of its current funding.NOAA’s satellite data division would lose 22% ($513 million) of its funding.
  • The Global Change Research, a program started by President George H.W. Bush, would be eliminated.EPA’s research on air, climate, energy (EPA) would be cut 50% (to $46 million)EPA’s research on chemical safety and sustainability would be cut 30% (to $62 million.)
  • Overall, EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) would be cut 40% (from $510 million to $290 million).
  • [Addendum] On March 9, the press reported that the Administration is planning at 30% cut for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which researches cutting edge energy technologies.

Read more at: Trump’s Budget Cuts: Even Worse Than You Thought | Legal Planet

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Sustainable Living

Op-Ed: Trump’s Congress speech left unsaid his continued assault on our environment

Rhea Suh, THE HILL

“What kind of a country,” he asked, “will we leave our children?”

In his address to Congress and the nation on Tuesday, President Trump made sparse mention of a leading focus of his first six weeks in office — his unmitigated assault on the nation’s environment and public health.

True, Trump boasted of having worked with congressional Republicans to set mining companies free to pollute mountain streams and destroy forests, by killing the Stream Protection Rule, leaving hard hit coal communities to pay the price.

He highlighted his call to do away with two existing regulations for every new safeguard put in place, an irrational and unlawful approach that short changes the government’s ability to respond to emerging threats in a complex and changing world.

He celebrated his order to revive the Keystone XL dirty tar sands pipeline bragging that he had “cleared the way” for some of the dirtiest oil on the planet to be shipped through the breadbasket of America to be refined on our Gulf coast and shipped, mostly, overseas.

And he took pride in noting his order to sweep aside the voices of the Standing Rock Sioux and force the Dakota Access pipeline across their water sources and sacred lands.

Not great, any of that.

Trump made a fleeting plea “to promote clean air and clear water,” but he never mentioned the order he signed, just hours before, to “eliminate” the Clean Water Rule that provides needed protections for wetlands and streams that feed drinking water sources for 117 million Americans.

He steered clear of reports that he plans crippling budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and to open more public land to the ravages of coal mining.

And he said nothing about his pledge to eviscerate the Clean Power Plan – the single most important measure the government has taken to fight rising seas, widening deserts, blistering heat, raging fires, withering drought and other hallmarks of climate change.

And who could blame him?

Nobody voted in November for dirty water or to put our children’s future at needless risk. Why would Trump tout an extremist agenda for which there’s little public support?

Read more at: Trump’s Congress speech left unsaid his continued assault on our environment

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Water

Media blackout: EPA scientists’ work may face ‘case by case’ review by Trump team, official says

Nathan Rott, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

Badlands National Park Twitter account goes rogue, starts tweeting scientific facts before falling silent.

Centers for Disease Control cancels conference on climate change and public health.

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency who want to publish or present their scientific findings likely will need to have their work reviewed on a “case by case basis” before it can be disseminated, according to a spokesman for the agency’s transition team.

In an interview Tuesday evening with NPR, Doug Ericksen, the head of communications for the Trump administration’s EPA transition team, said that during the transition period, he expects scientists will undergo an unspecified internal vetting process before sharing their work outside the agency.

“We’ll take a look at what’s happening so that the voice coming from the EPA is one that’s going to reflect the new administration,” Ericksen told NPR.

Ericksen did not say whether such a review process would become a permanent feature of Trump’s EPA. “We’re on Day 2 here. … You’ve got to give us a few days to get our feet underneath us.”

Any review would directly contradict the agency’s current scientific integrity policy, which was published in 2012. It prohibits “all EPA employees, including scientists, managers and other Agency leadership from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions.”

It also would likely have a chilling effect on the agency’s ability to conduct research on the environmental issues it is charged with regulating.

Read more at: EPA Scientists’ Work May Face ‘Case By Case’ Review By Trump Team, Official Says : The Two-Way : NPR

Filed under Climate Change & Energy

What does a Trump presidency portend for California’s environmental policies?

Richard Frank, LEGAL PLANET

Sensing political storm clouds ahead, California Governor Jerry Brown yesterday issued a statement on the presidential election results that concludes: “We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time–devastating climate change.”

Several of my Legal Planet colleagues have recently posted thoughtful commentary on what Donald Trump’s election as the nation’s 45th president signifies for national environmental law and policy.  By contrast, I’d like to focus on the potential for significant political dissonance between the incoming Trump Administration and the State of California.

In my view, that potential is sky-high, given California’s longstanding commitment to environmental and energy policies that are anathema to those articulated by Trump in the just-concluded presidential campaign and currently being reiterated by senior members of his transition team.

Business leaders, property rights advocates and Tea Party activists are all seeking the Trump Administration’s active support for their efforts to re-energize the oil, gas and coal industries, aggressively promote private development of federal lands, dismantle or curb USEPA’s regulatory programs and suspend the Obama Administration’s aggressive pursuit of greenhouse gas reduction goals.  California Governor Brown’s above-quoted statement confirms that the Golden State will continue to pursue its environmental, conservation and climate change objectives notwithstanding the dramatic environmental policy shift we can expect under Trump’s presidency.

Past political history demonstrates that such a clash between California and the federal government is likely.  When Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, with both houses of Congress in Republican hands, similar political turbulence quickly developed between the Reagan Administration and Reagan’s home state of California on a number of environmental issues.

At its heart, this was, and is, a battle of federalism principles: the proper, respective roles of the federal and state governments in charting public policy, together with the legal authority of both to act.

As we gird for likely legal and political battles between California and the federal government over environmental policy, three constitutional doctrines are likely to play a key role:

  • preemption,
  • regulatory takings
  • and the dormant Commerce Clause.

I briefly review each of those doctrines and their relevance below.

Read more at: What Does a Trump Presidency Portend for California’s Environmental Policies? | Legal Planet

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Land Use

Sweeping overhaul of nation’s chemical-safety laws clears final legislative hurdle

Juliet Eilperin, THE WASHINGTON POST

The Senate passed legislation Tuesday evening that will overhaul the way the federal government regulates every chemical sold on the market in the United States. The bipartisan accord represents the most sweeping environmental measure to pass Congress in a quarter-century.

The bill, which drew support from the chemical industry, trial lawyers and many public health and environmental groups, updates a 40-year-old law long criticized as ineffective.

In reauthorizing the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act on a voice vote, lawmakers are providing chemical manufacturers with greater certainty while giving the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to obtain more information about a chemical before approving its use. And because the laws involved regulate thousands of chemicals used in products including furniture, sippy cups and detergents, the measure will affect Americans’ everyday lives in ways large and small.

In an interview before the vote, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said many Americans were largely unaware of the risks posed by toxic chemicals, whether they are flame retardants in rugs and drapes or materials in clothing.

“When people learn their little baby is crawling on the floor with their nose an inch from the rug, and they are inhaling toxic-laden dust right from birth, they’re shocked,” he said. “We finally found a way to bring people together to change that.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who co-authored the bill with Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), said the measure could spur economic innovation because more functional oversight would encourage chemical manufacturers to bring new products to market.

“I’m so very glad to have passed a law that strengthens our country’s international competitiveness, provides desperately needed regulatory certainty for industry and mandates that the federal government use better science and provide more transparency,” he said in a statement.

Currently, the EPA must prove that a chemical poses a potential risk before it can demand data or require testing, and that substance can automatically enter the marketplace after 90 days. As a result, the agency has required testing for 200 out of thousands of chemicals that have entered the market, and it has issued regulations to control only five of them.

Read more at: Sweeping overhaul of nation’s chemical-safety laws clears final legislative hurdle – The Washington Post

Filed under Sustainable Living