Court Rules Trump Violated the Law In Approving Dakota Pipeline

For the sick souls attempting to keep up with Donald Trump’s illegal activities and deliberate flouting of federal laws, it is getting to be an impossibly tiresome chore and frankly a little more disgusting every day. There are, however, those instances when the federal judiciary issues a ruling that some action Donald Trump performed violated federal law. Although he will never be sent to live out his pathetic life in a federal penitentiary, one can at least revel in the knowledge Trump was caught and called out for doing what career criminals do as a matter of course; violate the law. Yesterday was one of those occasions.

On Wednesday a Federal District Court Judge ruled that in serving the greed of the oil industry, Donald Trump “violated [federal] laws in certain critical respects” when he granted federal permits authorizing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to cross the Missouri River upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation. Federal Court Judge James Boasberg used 91 pages to say that the federal permits Trump “hastily issued just days after the [sparsely attended] inauguration” failed on several counts to meet critical federal laws. The Federal Court stopped short of determining whether or not the pipeline operations should be shut down immediately, but that possibility may be in the offing. The Judge requested “additional briefings” on the subject and a “status conference” in the next week.

The Federal Judge wrote, in part:

The Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.”

The Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, Dave Archambault II celebrated the ruling saying:

This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing. The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.”

An attorney for Earthjustice, Jan Hasselman commented thus:

This decision marks an important turning point. Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been disregarded by the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Trump Administration—prompting a well-deserved global outcry. The federal courts have stepped in where our political systems have failed to protect the rights of Native communities.”

It is noteworthy that the Court did not give the “Tribe” everything it wanted, but it did alert the Trump that there are protocols and procedures even an aspiring dictator has to follow; including honoring Treaties and sovereign rights of Native Americans and long-standing environmental regulations and procedures.

Where the Standing Rock Sioux won was convincing the court that Trump allowed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed without due regard for environmental rules. On Trump’s authority, the Corp failed to:

Sufficiently consider the pipeline’s environmental effects before granting permits to Dakota Access to construct and operate DAPL under Lake Oahe, a federally regulated waterway.  Although the Corps substantially complied with NEPA in many areas, the Court agrees that it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.

To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court. Whether Dakota Access must cease pipeline operations during that remand presents a separate question of the appropriate remedy, which will be the subject of further briefing.”

The Standing Rock lawsuit centered around three primary areas.

First and likely foremost, the federal government is forbidden from taking any federal action that harms “the Standing Rock reservation” or “the Missouri River water the people of Standing Rock depend on.” The Standing Rock Tribe has uncontested “Treaty rights that guarantee the integrity of its reservation” that Earthjustice and the Standing Rock Sioux noted the “Obama administration carefully considered in connection with a leak-prone oil pipeline immediately upstream of the reservation.” Because Trump flouts agreements and treaties his fossil fuel masters refuse to accept, dirty Don disregarded the previous administration’s advice, and compliance with federal law, and “acted as if the Tribe does not exist.”

Second, as Earthjustice noted, Federal law requires a full, transparent and public environmental review for any federal action that has “significant” environmental effects anyplace in the country, not just Native Americans’ sovereign land. The environmental advocate righty noted that there have been “full,  transparent and public environmental reviews for decisions as mundane as off-leash dog areas and allowing jet skis in parks,” and yet there were none for a “30-inch crude-oil pipeline under one of the most economically and culturally important waterways in the nation.”

The third point Earthjustice and the “Tribe” argued in their lawsuit was that whether Trump likes it or not, and this is a particularly prescient point for the Trump to acknowledge:

There are limits on the extent to which one administration can reverse the decisions of its predecessor. While federal agencies can change their minds about matters of policy, the courts will set aside reversals that are not fully justified and explained.”

It is already well-documented that Trump is, and has been, on a tear to reverse every environmental policy and decision made during the Obama Administration; in part out of sheer spite and in part to sate the greed of the fossil fuel industry. That Trump “automatically” granted a permit to DAPL within days of his sparsely-attended inauguration informs even stupid people that he gave no consideration whatsoever to established federal laws, long-standing treaties with Native Americans, or National Environmental Policy Act  (NEPA) requirements.

It remains to be seen if after further review by the Court, including a “status conference” and “additional briefings,” the Judge will shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline. But for now the Standing Rock Sioux can celebrate that even with an adversarial tyrant in the Oval Office working solely for the fossil fuel industry against Native Americans and the environment, a Federal Court ruled in their favor and against Trump for doing what he does as a matter of course; violate the law in “certain critical respects” like the common criminal he really is.

California Warns Trump To Keep His Tiny Hands Off Our Public Land

 

There are a couple of actions that the fascist bully Trump can’t comport likely because he surrounds himself with wimpy yes-men – similar to his business “empire” underlings and reality television show actors. Of course Trump will not tolerate not being worshipped like some kind of demi-god, and he particularly cannot accept being told no by anyone; both mostly due to his entitled rich-boy upbringing.

Americans learned what Trump thinks of the U.S. Constitution as it virtually “told him no” when the system of checks and balances prevented him from being a dictator; he doesn’t like it and it makes him very, very angry because it’s “archaic and bad for the country.”

After this week, Trump must hate California a bit more than he hates America or the U.S. Constitution because its Attorney General told the “big-time wrestling celebrity” Trump no. And, the Golden State’s AG likely really offended Trump because he issued a warning to the wanna-be dictator to keep his grubby teeny-tiny hands off California’s public lands; Trump already knows Californians don’t worship him so he really hates the Golden State.

California has already stood up to Trump regarding his nasty and illegal threats to withhold tax revenue over “sanctuary cities,” and defied his order to conscript local law enforcement officers into the Trump “round up and deport” agency. It is noteworthy that an important component of that “archaic system” that Trump wants gone, the federal judiciary, has ruled that Trump cannot withhold federal funds to a state. Of course that action infuriated the Trump.

Then California stepped up and became a surrogate for a responsible America in leading the global effort to combat climate change; including signing international pacts and setting climate and environmental policy with several foreign countries including China. No doubt Trump is stewing in his own outrage that California dares defy him, but that’s what happens when a so-called president exists to pander to the whims of the teabagger Heritage Foundation, the Koch brothers, and investor’s intent on commercial developments.

With news that Trump directed his Interior department to “review” public lands, national monuments, wilderness areas and national parks to prepare a massive giveaway to the fossil fuel and mining industry, California took issue and said California is not Mormon Utah; butt out of our lands.

California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra sent a letter late last week to Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke informing him that California’s public lands are off-limits to Trump and his fossil fuel funders. Mr. Becerra wrote:

National monument designations protect the irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage that belongs to all Americans, ensuring that the haste or greed of one generation does not squander those gifts at the expense of future generations.

Any attempt by [the] Trump Administration to reverse decisions past Presidents have made to safeguard our most treasured public lands is as unwise as it is unlawful. I am determined to take any and all action necessary to protect the American heritage which has become part of our monument lands.”

The environmental group, 350.org agrees with California and issued its own statement alerting Trump that he is not making these moves due to a couple of decades worth of what Trump said is “egregious abuse of federal power going back to 1906.” Like the United States Constitution, Trump concurs with Utah’s Republican Mormons’, Cliven Bundy’s, the Koch brothers’ and Oathkeepers’ assertion that any system to designate protected public lands and national monuments is an outrage; especially when the fossil fuel industry and privateers want Americans’ “public land” for their personal profit.

The Executive Director of 350.org, May Boeve, issued a statement right after Trump called for a review to see which public  monuments and lands should be handed over to the Koch brothers first.

Zinke and the Trump administration want to gut the power of the Antiquities Act to shore up the fossil fuel industry.  On top of all the attacks on our climate, now we’ll have to defend our parks and monuments from Big Oil as well.”

It took longer than this author expected, but last month the Koch brothers, through dirty Don Trump, issued an anticipated executive order that targets 27 national parks, national monuments and forests, and wilderness areas for “special review;” a special review likely conducted by the Koch brothers.  Six of those 27 are in California and like all 27, the reviews are for the sole purpose of prioritizing which ones to open up to gas and oil drilling, mining and deforestation, and private development and in what order.

It has been an irritant to the Koch brothers, and particularly Utah Mormons, for years that the federal government legally owns public lands. Republicans argue viciously that the American people’s public lands really belong to fossil fuel, mining and logging industry and corporations interested in commercial development.

The six California monuments and parks the Koch brothers have their oil-drilling, mining and denuding eyes on are the Giant Sequoia, Mojave Trails, Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Sand to Snow and San Gabriel Mountains national monuments. Of course the greedy bastards want oil, but they also desperately want the Giant Sequoia land because it contains two-thirds of all the giant trees still remaining on the planet.

California is not alone in standing up to the Koch brothers, Trump and particularly Utah’s Republican Mormons. Two entities, Native American tribal leaders in Utah and the “Patagonia outdoor gear and clothing company” lodged their own warning to Trump and threatened to sue the White House over his executive order to confiscate public land and give it to the Kochs and commercial developers.

The California Attorney General Becerra reminded Trump in his warning letter that tiny-hands does not have the tyrannical power to give away the American people’s public lands to anyone. He flatly declared:

“Trump simply has no legal authority to question monument designations made by predecessor[s] under the Antiquities Act. Tellingly, no President has ever attempted to undo preservation of America’s historic, cultural, and scientifically valuable landscapes by revoking a monument designation.”

Mr. Becerra is right, of course, on both counts. Trump does not have legal authority to question or change designations going back generations or ten years ago. And yes, it is true: America has never had a tyrant in the White House acting solely on behalf of the Koch brothers or commercial developers. What is telling, though, and typically Republican of Trump is his lust to steal more from the American people to give away to the uber rich. He’s trying to steal their healthcare, then their retirement benefits and now their public lands. But for now, at least one state is saying keep your filthy little hands off our public lands.

The World Is Laughing At You Trump – Not America

 

Donald Trump is, all at once, a laughingstock, a pathological liar, a dangerous malignant narcissist, and a childish know-nothing bully that is an embarrassment to every decent American. And contrary to his deep-seated belief, Donald Trump is not representative of what Americans stand for as a civilized people. Oh sure, he symbolizes every filthy trait rampant among a certain ‘class’ of his kind of ugly American, but he does not represent, and is not “America.” Collectively, the American people are hundreds-of-orders of magnitude better, smarter, more ethical and moral than Trump and it is a glaring fact he is incapable of comprehending due to his severely “toxic malignant narcissism;”  a diagnosis that literally scores of psychological experts have warned he suffers.

Trump exposed that danger to America and the world when he did as predicted by anyone with a brain and announced that because he considers climate change a Chinese hoax concocted to destroy America’s economy, he was unilaterally pulling America out of the landmark planet-wide effort to combat climate change, the Paris Climate Accord. It is noteworthy that Trump’s imagined Chinese hoax is supported by 194 other nations that signed the “Accord” because they see the results of global warming and understand the value of science; the exact opposite of the imbecile Trump and his 16th Century religious mindset in opposition to science. Trump embraces idiotic conspiracy theories and mythos; it is no wonder the entire world is laughing at Trump.

During his announcement he was withdrawing America from the climate accord, Trump made a statement that belies any claim that he has even a clue about how the rest of the world regards him. Dumb Donnie said:

It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic affairs. At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore. And they won’t be.”

According to Trump, it appears he believes 194 nations have joined the “Chinese hoax” to destroy America’s economy and now, through Paris, are attacking the sovereignty of the United States of America. That delusion is part of his belief that the rest of the world is conspiring to hinder his ability to “reshape the nation’s environmental laws” in ways that take America back to the early 20th Century. To answer Trump’s rhetorical query about at what point do they start laughing at us as a country; “they” are already laughing and “they” are all laughing at you, dirty Donald Trump. They are not laughing at “us as a country” and if anything they feel pity for a nation that once had a semblance of respectability.

As the New York Times noted, Trump abandoning the agreement to save Earth’s environment signed by 195 nations “is a remarkable rebuke to heads of state, climate activists, corporate executives and closest advisers in his own staff who all failed to change his mind with an intense, last-minute lobbying blitz.”

The Paris accord had nothing to do with 194 countries “demeaning America” or putting “Paris over Pittsburgh.” Its sole intent was to bind the world community into a force to battle rising temperatures in concert; no doubt the exit of the planet’s second-largest polluter is a major blow. And, it was a blow that didn’t garner support or laughter from world leaders or corporate heads or high-level members of Trump’s administration; even President Barack Obama weighed in:

The [194] nations that remain in the Paris agreement will be the nations that reap the [economic] benefits in jobs and industries created. Even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.

Right on cue, a bevy of business leaders, cities, and states stepped up and assured the rest of the civilized world that they were going forward with their efforts to save the climate. California has already taken up a global leadership role as surrogate for America and is leading the battle against climate change, and waging war against imbecile-in-chief Donald Trump.

Elsewhere around the nation, an as yet unnamed group of 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses is in negotiations with the United Nations to have its submission accepted alongside contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations. No Trump, the rest of the world isn’t laughing at “us,” they are laughing at and are repulsed by you and everything you stand for.

Three of the nation’s top business leaders stepped up and condemned Trump’s idiotic action as a “decision that will harm the economy.” That was the well-founded assessment of Wall Street’s Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs. Joining President Obama’s claim, Blankfein said Trump’s moronic decision will ultimately harm the economy “by ceding the jobs of the future in clean energy and technology to overseas competitors;” competitors like China that sees its best opportunity ever to be the new global leader as America regresses into a second-rate isolationist state.

Tesla’s Elon Musk, who had at one time agreed to be a member of two business-related councils Trump set up earlier this year, told the world he was leaving both panels after Trump’s announcement. Mr. Musk took to Trump’s favorite media outlet, Twitter, to say right after Trump’s announcement:

Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.

I.B.M released an official company statement after Trump’s announcement reaffirming its ardent support for the Paris agreement; the mammoth corporation also took issue with Trump’s assertion that it was a bad deal for American workers and the American economy. The company said:

This agreement requires all participating countries to put forward their best efforts on climate change as determined by each country. I.B.M. believes that it is easier to lead outcomes by being at the table, as a participant in the agreement, rather than from outside it.”

The chairman and chief executive of General Electric, Jeffrey R. Immelt, also used “the Twitter” to express his “disappointment” with the stupid Trump decision and ‘tweeted’Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

Trump is an idiot and the world is laughing at him and loathes everything he stands for – including a decision that will impact the entire world. Although his idiotic base may fall for his conspiracy theory reasoning, the rest of the civilized world and civilized Americans join business leaders, state and city leaders, and “responsible citizens” who understand that climate change is real and that without a concerted world effort, like the Paris Climate Accord, the battle to save the climate is in jeopardy because the second-highest carbon polluter refuses to join a world-wide effort.

To make the point that the world does not either laugh at America or blame them for the idiocy coming out of the White House, French President Emmanuel Macron said what even dimwits have to understand – Trump is making a huge mistake. He then extended an offer to the American people. President Macron said in English:

Tonight, I wish to tell the United States: France believes in you, the world believes in you. I know that you are a great nation. I know your history, our common history. To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second home.”

At a time when every new day brings a new reason to be embarrassed to be an American because the maniac in the White House is a know-nothing laughingstock, it is reassuring to learn that the rest of the world is not, as Trump claims, laughing at “us” Americans. They are laughing at you Donald Trump – you tiny-handed psychotic sadist.

California Is Emerging As A Global Leader Against Climate Change and Trump

 

 

Now that the imbecile Donald Trump embarrassed Americans while in Europe and gave every indication he would single-handedly make America’s word worth less than dirt, a story that was sparsely reported last week is increasingly important; for the entire world’s population. Anyone who hasn’t been comatose over the past year-and-a-half likely knows that Trump and his administration are climate deniers; Trump says global climate change is a Chinese hoax. But while Trump refused to join leaders of the G7 nations in pledging to go forward with the Paris Climate Accord, California is “becoming a global force” to battle climate change, and Trump.

Last month in San Francisco environmental ministers of Canada and Mexico signed a global pact drafted largely by California to reduce greenhouse pollution responsible for climate change. Next month, California’s governor, Jerry Brown, will be heading to China to meet with climate leaders as part of a “global” campaign to curb global warming.

Besides becoming America’s “de facto” negotiator with the rest of the world on the environment, the Golden State is preparing to wage war against Trump and his attempt to abolish California’s environmental standards and pollution rules because Republicans detest “states’ rights;” particularly if they conflict with the oil industry. That being the case, California has “a battery of state lawyers” preparing to do battle and thwart “any attempt by Trump and Republicans to weaken California’s automobile pollution emission standards.” In fact, as the New York Times reported,

The state is pushing back on everything from White House efforts to roll back pollution rules on tailpipes and smokestacks, to plans to withdraw or weaken the United States’ commitments under the Paris climate change accord.”

Governor Jerry Brown said regarding California’s new role as surrogate for an America with an environmental conscience:

I want to do everything we can to keep America on track, keep the world on track, and lead in all the ways California has. We’re looking to do everything we can to advance our program, regardless of whatever happens in Washington.”

California’s efforts are not going unnoticed around the globe, either. One Nobel Laureate in science who advises several nations on climate change policy, Mario Molina, said:

With Trump indicating that he will withdraw from climate change leadership, the rest of the global community is looking to California, as one of the world’s largest economies, to take the lead. California demonstrates to the world that you can have a strong climate policy without hurting your economy.”

It is noteworthy that California is the 6th largest economy in the world and has led the nation, and often the world, in protecting the environment and its citizens’ health while its economy continues to flourish; the New York Times rightly labeled California an “economic powerhouse.” And it is worth repeating, the state has provided a model for other states, and the nation, that very robust environmental protections and regulations have had the opposite economic effects than the doom and gloom, job-killing devastation claimed by Trump and Republicans. California’s annual economic output is approximately $2.4 trillion indeed making one American state a global economic powerhouse and one progressive state the world’s leaders want to work with; especially to save the planet’s environment.

Although California is under Democratic control, its environmental efforts cross party lines and that includes Herculean climate efforts by former governor, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although Mr. Schwarzenegger’s economic expertise is often criticized, during his eight-year tenure he did lead the state in developing the most aggressive pollution-control programs in the nation; he has also taken a leading role as one of Trump’s biggest Republican critics on his lack of a climate policy.

Mr. Schwarzenegger wasn’t the first Republican governor to champion a cleaner environment and strong pollution regulations. For well over three decades the Golden State “has been at the vanguard of environmental policy, passing ambitious, first-in-the-nation measures on pollution control and conservation that have often served as models for national and even international environmental law.” That model is what Trump and his climate-denying cohort want to put an immediate end to.

Trump has already made moves to reduce federal auto emission standards that were influenced by California’s tougher standards because when automakers met with Trump, they complained bitterly that federal standards forced them to build expensive electric vehicles that consumers do not want. This battle is also going to center around concerns that Trump will direct the E.P.A will revoke a waiver issued by Republican President Richard Nixon allowing California to “set fuel economy standards exceeding federal requirements.” Doubtless the auto makers and oil industry contend that drivers also do not want automobiles that get better mileage; they also desperately want to “stop the spread of electric cars.”

California is not intimidated by Trump and is preparing for a legal challenge according to the state’s attorney general Xavier Becerra. “You have to be concerned when anybody talks about going backward. In this case we think we have a strong case to be made based on the facts and the history.”

The state’s Senate leader, Kevin de Leon, is also not intimidated by the Trump and earlier this month introduced legislation that accelerates, rather than retrench, the state’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The legislation requires that by 2045 100 percent of “retail electricity in the state comes from renewable sources.” Mr. de Leon said “it is important that we send a signal to the rest of the world” at a time of what he explained “was blowback from Washington” with an idiot anti-environment administration reverting to policies that helped create global climate change.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger said, everything about Trump is taking the nation backwards and his non-existent climate polices are “a threat to the planet.” Arnold continued,

Saying you’ll bring coal plants back is the past. It’s like saying you’ll bring Blockbuster back, which is the past. Horses and buggies, which is the past. Pagers back, which is the past.”

As the data show, Arnold reminded the Trump and his fellow Republicans that California is the shining example of a state that can adopt and implement “aggressive environmental policies without hurting the economy. We’re outdoing the rest of the country on G.D.P.”

Of course Trump and his anti-environment cohort will never cite California’s success and instead have attempted to frame the issue as California attempting to control the rest of the nation and the world. Trump’s bible-thumping E.P.A. chief, Scott Pruitt, a champion of state’s rights when it comes to gun proliferation and imposing religious laws,  said Governor Brown is “is being the aggressor” with strong state environmental regulations. And he said that Trump’s anti-environmental regulations effort is solely meant “to lift the oppressive yoke of federal regulations and return authority to the states;” but only if the oil and automobile industry approve.

At a time when the rest of the world is shaking their collective heads at the anti-science climate denying moron in the White House, and reaffirming their commitment to move forward in the collective fight to slow the advance of anthropogenic climate change, they can no longer look to America for leadership; a role California is already fulfilling.

Three Senate Republicans Defect In a Blow To Trump And Koch Brothers

In what was a surprise bit of encouraging news this week while the country was witnessing obstruction of justice in the White House, three Senate Republicans joined Democrats to hand Donald Trump, the Koch brothers, and their fossil fuel cohort what is being called a stunning defeat. It has been well-documented that one of Trump’s major goals was repealing each and every one of President Barack Obama’s efforts to protect the American people, the environment, national security, and to encourage big oil to stop wasting energy. Three Republican Senators stymied Trump’s crusade this week in a victory for the environment and Americans’ well-being.

The Senate was attempting to do Trump’s and the Koch brothers’ bidding in repealing a late Obama-era limit on methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. The gift to the fossil fuel industry was blocked due to the “defection” of Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The three Republicans joined Democrats to defeat a barely-passed House resolution in February to “repeal the methane leak rule.” It is difficult to comprehend what kind of cretins would even consider abolishing a rule that prevents a nasty greenhouse gas, and threat to human health, like methane from being deliberately leaked into the atmosphere.

That rule was “issued” last November was an update to a 30-year old regulation meant to “govern” the deliberate leaking and venting of natural gases such as methane. Methane is known to be a particularly “potent greenhouse gas” responsible for contributing to anthropogenic climate change. It is a common energy industry, primarily the fossil fuel industry, practice to “burn off vast supplies of methane gas at drilling sites” because it is not as profitable to sell as oil. The rule specifically targeted drilling sites on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property to prevent “methane waste” that Trump and the oil industry claims is far too strict of a regulation on the poor beleaguered oil industry.

The Senate, like the House, had been assisting Trump, and rewarding the Kochs, in their goal to halt federal oversight of the drilling industry using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to both abolish current regulations and prevent them from ever being implemented in the future. Trump had been on a “repeal” roll since taking office and has signed 13 different CRA resolutions to eliminate President Obama’s environmental regulations. It is noteworthy that prior to Trump’s “scorched Earth” effort to roll back environmental regulations, that 1996 CRA law was only used “just once before Trump” became president. Trump is a dirty hypocrite because he and his Republican cabal complained bitterly and condemned a real President, Barack Obama, for executive overreach in issuing new rules to protect the people and environment.

Republicans, and Trump as well, have touted their fossil fuel deregulatory crusade as a means to American energy independence and an effort to provide Americans with plentiful and cheap fuel for electricity generating plants. However, the amount of methane burned off into the atmosphere each year from drilling operations is more than enough to provide electricity for about three-quarters-of-a-million (740,000) American homes. When the amount of natural gas that is leaked, or burned off, is included, those wasted gases would power about 5 million American homes each year.

The resolution to repeal the limit on toxic gas leaks had incredible support from Senate Republican leadership as well as the Koch brothers’ oil and gas industry. That support included “a six-figure, multimedia advertising campaign that targeted reluctant Republican lawmakers” that have thus far resisted aiding Trump’s childish and moronic denial of climate change. The oil and gas industry had made pressuring the Trump administration to eliminate the BLM rule one of its highest priorities and one they wanted accomplished immediately.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, John Barrasso (R-WY) not only supported the House-passed resolution to “kill the rule,” he appealed to Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to circumvent the normal congressional legislative process and just revoke the methane leak rule unilaterally. But as Reuters has reported, a dictatorial edict by the Interior Secretary would have “involved a laborious bureaucratic process” that would have been “ultimately vulnerable to legal action” from environmental groups and concerned citizens.

The Republican Representative who sponsored the House legislation, Utah Mormon and anti-federal land crusader Rob Bishop is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee who said Republicans in the Senate had “no rational reason not to vote for it.” Earlier this year, Bishop told The Hill on learning that Lindsey Graham was reluctant to support the repeal; “Senator Graham doesn’t live in the West, and doesn’t understand these issues, clearly.” What Senator Graham does understand, unlike a frightening number of Republicans, is that climate change is a real and present danger and any effort to reduce emissions exacerbating it are worthwhile for the sake of the economy, people’s health, the environment and national security.

The issues are not about oil industry gas leaks and Bishop knows it. The issues for Republicans, particularly Utah Republicans, is their outrageous insistence that the federal government has no right to own land it purchased or regulate its use. This is particularly true in Western states like Utah and it was the primary reason for the so-called Bundy Standoff in Nevada.

Senator John McCain, a Republican who does live in and represent constituents in “the West” gave Mormon Rob Bishop a very clear and rational reason why he joined Democrats to shut down the Kochs’ repeal effort. Senator McCain said,

While I am concerned that the BLM rule may be onerous, passage of the resolution would have prevented the federal government, under any administration, from ever issuing a rule that is similar.”

While the oil and gas industry and its Republican puppets were demoralized and angry that one of their efforts to increase the damage from climate change was thwarted, environmental groups were pleasantly surprised. The Executive Director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune responded to the Senate vote and said:

Today is a victory for our public lands and for the health of families across America, and a defeat for Donald Trump, corporate polluters, and their friends on Capitol Hill. People across the country will continue to resist and hold Congress and Trump accountable for any efforts to put the profits of polluters before the health of our families and our communities.”

It is likely there won’t be many instances that any Republican will oppose Trump’s, the Koch’s, or their fossil fuel industry cohort’s efforts to wipe out sane regulations to combat climate change, preserve energy, or protect the health and well-being of American citizens. But whatever the reason Senators McCain, Collins, and Graham stood up to Trump, the Kochs, and fossil fuel industry, it is an encouraging sign that there are at least three Republicans who understand that they cannot fulfill their mandate to work for the general welfare of the American people and still pander to the Koch brothers’ oil industry. In this particular instance McCain, Graham and Collins opted to protect the people and in these dark times even one Republican, much less three, opting to serve the people is worth celebrating. It may be a long slog before it ever happens again.

Pruitt To Scrap EPA Safety Rules Preventing Oil and Chemical Tank Disasters

 

By now it should be apparent that with Republicans running the government the oil and chemical industry have taken a leadership role in slashing regulations meant to protect the environment and the people. Whether it is the rush to approve and build dangerous oil pipelines over sensitive ecosystems, agriculturally-rich land or precious drinking water sources, Republicans are Hell-bent on giving big oil and chemical manufacturers anything they want without regard for the environment or the people’s health. Of course what they want is complete abolition of all safety and environmental regulations.

This week an environmental activist, Earth Justice, reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has spent valuable time and effort to developmodest but important” updates to safety regulations affecting industrial sites such as oil refineries and chemical manufacturers’ storage tanks.  The “updates” were approved by Congress less than a year ago and announced by the EPA at the end of 2016 during the waning days of the Obama Administration.

Those storage tanks require more robust rules than currently existed because like crude oil refinery fires in California, or a chemical leak in West Virginia two years ago, any kind of accident can affect the health and well-being of tens-of-thousands of nearby residents, facility employees, or first responders.

Despite the alarming frequency of these dangerous industrial accidents, with an oil and chemical industry shill running the EPA, the one-time “protection agency” proposes putting a halt to the improved rules for a year-and-a-half. During that 18 month “hold” on the EPA’s safety proposals, Earth Justice reports there will likely be about 300 toxic chemical releases that could have been prevented with what can only be considered very modest rule changes.

While the chemical and oil industry claim the new safety rules are overly burdensome, they are very minor, not costly, and protect workers and “fence-line communities” in and around the facilities. They basically call for “strengthening emergency preparedness and coordination with local first responders; requiring more thorough, prevention-focused investigations; and forcing plants with the worst accident records to consider implementing available safety precautions.”

Those protections are necessary and might have averted some catastrophic health and economic disasters that occurred prior to the EPA’s safety rule implementation. For example, during 10 years leading up to these rules, there were 1,500 chemical fires, releases or explosions at chemical facilities around the country caused over $2 billion in damage to property, and necessitated emergency evacuation or “shelter in place” orders for half a million people. And those preventable accidents led to 17,099 injuries and 58 Americans’ lost their lives.

Without the safety measures in place, there is certainly going to be more Americans affected by ruptures, leaks and explosions.  The bad news is that “at least one in three schoolchildren attends a school within the vulnerability zone” of a hazardous facility like a refinery or oil and chemical storage tanks. And what is a very telling statistic about who, among the millions of people who live under the threat of a toxic plume or chemical disaster, will be most impacted by a manmade and preventable disaster; “the communities most in harm’s way are Black, Latino and low-income people.

Those statistics represent an unacceptable amount of death and destruction in an advanced society. Particularly when a couple of preventative safety measures could have halted or reduced the level of destruction. What cannot possibly be known yet is how many Americans will succumb to cancer and other ailments that take years to manifest and could have been easily, and cheaply, prevented with simple safety measures.

Those mainly preventative and preparedness rules are too much for the chemical and oil industry to accept which is why Pruitt’s EPA put them on hold for a year-and-a-half. Apparently, it is going to take 18 months for the EPA under oil and chemical industry activist Pruitt to “look for ways to roll back these vital protections.” Pruitt is well-practiced in the art of fighting EPA rules and campaigning to deregulate the chemical and oil industry because it has been one of his claims to fame since long before being put in charge of neutering the E.P.A.

Earth Justice rightly noted that the Pruitt-led EPA’s proposed action “defies logic and good sense,” but only if one believes that protecting the lives of Americans and the environment is a logical function of the government. Obviously, as an oil and chemical industry shill, Pruitt doesn’t believe that protecting Americans is reasonable, or logical, because the industries he’s protecting opposes them; Pruitt’s plan to put the rules on hold is a gift to his campaign donors.

Although it is doubtful that any amount of citizen action will change Pruitt’s position on halting the safety rules, the Environmental Protection Agency is still accepting comments from the public on the wisdom, or insanity, of delaying implementation of safety measures for a year-and-a-half; until Pruitt and the oil and chemical industry can eliminate them completely which was the plan the minute Republicans gained control of the entire government.

Corporate Giants Reject Trump – Recommit To President Obama’s Climate Policies

 

 

There is reason some of the largest corporations in the world are the largest corporations in the world and a good reason why they are highly successful and profitable. Because they are so successful, they tend to base business decisions on reality, and where applicable, sound science whether it is the science of economics or the climate. They certainly don’t make business decisions on what they imagine to be true or false, but that is what General Electric’s CEO Jeff Immelt stated Donald Trump is basing his war on the climate and environment on.

GE CEO Immelt said that Trump’s “imagination is at work” if he doesn’t believe in climate change science or the Paris agreement that President Barack Obama signed onto before he left office. Mr. Immelt said that GE  is going forward with the corporate giant’s plan to fight climate change and wants to lead the corporate world to in the war to slow global climate change. And, Mr. Immelt called on other corporate giants to “step up to fill the void that the [Trump] administration is leaving behind.”

Companies must be resilient and learn to adjust to political volatility all over the world. Companies must have their own ‘foreign policy’ and create technology and solutions that address local needs for our customers and society.”

Mr. Immelt’s comments were aimed at the Trump’s executive orderrolling back Obama-era energy regulations.” Mr. Immelt said that the General Electric’s incorporation of green technology was made in response to “well accepted” climate change science. He also said the corporate giant’s implementation of green technologies  has already had a “demonstrable effect both on environmental protection and on improving company profits.”

We believe climate change should be addressed on a global basis through multi-national agreements, such as the Paris Agreement. We hope that the United States continues to play a constructive role in furthering solutions to these challenges, and at GE, we will continue to lead with our technology and actions.”

According to a report in Bloomberg Politics, Mr. Immelt’s intent for GE to lead with technology and actions is going to be a monumentally concerted effort with “some of America’s biggest corporations already vowing to stick to the environmental pledges they made to President Obama.

For example, Walmart, has already vowed to get half of its power from renewable energy sources by 2025 and it is as more of a profit-oriented decision than it is an effort to combat climate change and protect the environment; although that is part of the goal. A Walmart spokesman, Kevin Gardner said:

This work is embedded in our business. [It’s] good for the business, our shareholders, and customers; if ultimately we are able to positively impact the environment in the process, that’s a win too.”

Walmart is joined by the largest beer company in the world, Anheuser-Busch InBev, that pledged the day after Trump’s executive order dismantling environmental protections “to get 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.”

Mars Inc, went even farther and pledged to “eliminate its emissions altogether by 2040;” a lofty goal indeed but one that can be achieved. The vice president of Mars Inc.’s corporate affairs, Andy Pharoah, said the candy giant is “disappointed the [Trump] administration has decided to roll back climate regulations.”

Some of the other corporate giants who pledged to stick to “the climate change promises they made to the Obama Administration;” Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Ikea, Levi Strauss & Co., and Best Buy are completely rejecting the Trump plan tp abandon environmental protections. Those corporate behemoths were joined by some seriously powerful corporate leaders who took the time to issue a joint statement in response to the Trump’s executive order wiping out President Obama’s efforts to combat climate change.

The world’s leading technology corporations Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, wrote jointly that:

We believe that strong clean energy and climate policies, like the Clean Power Plan, can make renewable energy supplies more robust and address the serious threat of climate change while also supporting American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth.”

As Columbia Business School Professor Geoffrey M. Heal explained to Bloomberg Politics, “Most big companies in the U.S. recognize that climate change is real. They need to move ahead on the climate change front no matter what Trump’s government does.”

Trump claimed that dismantling climate change policies of the Obama Administration is what corporations and the people wanted and that “My action today is the latest in steps to grow American jobs.” However, that doesn’t square with what some of the largest corporations in America, and the world, are saying and likely why they are rejecting, as GE CEO Immelt said “Trump’s imagination at work.”

America’s largest corporations do believe in climate change science and that President Obama’s environmental policies not only “demonstrably effect environmental protection, [they] go a long way towards improving corporate profits.”