Trump’s EPA destroys his justification for slashing California fuel economy standards

It seems like it would be a Herculean task to convince the American people that it is in their best interests to spend more of their hard-earned wages on fuel to go to work, school, the doctor, and the local grocer. Obviously, no sane American thinks it is a good idea to purposely spend more on fuel than is necessary, but that kind of thinking is not going to create more wealth for the fossil fuel industry; higher fuel efficiency is anathema to big oil.

So Trump, in a continuing effort to sate the greed of big oil, is now proposing all manner of bovine excrement reasons to put a stop to higher fuel-economy standards for motor vehicles; and he claims he has scientific and expert proof to justify his crusade.

In an effort to stop Obama-era fuel economy standards, Trump has come up with some seriously bizarre arguments for why Americans will welcome paying more to drive. It was almost incomprehensible that the meathead administration claimed that lower gas mileage was Trump’s way of protecting the lives of Americans. The assertion was a typically unbelievable Trump contention in technologically advanced  21stCentury America: If fuel economy is poor, then the people could not afford to drive and would just stay home and off the roads. The administration’s reasoning was that being economically forced to spend less time on the road would reduce Americans’ chances of getting in a car accident. The claim might have made sense if America was the size of Vermont and had a robust mass transit system, but mass transit, like environmental protections, is as terrifying to the oil industry as higher-fuel economy vehicles.

The administration also claimed it had Americans’ well-being in mind in promoting the safety advantages of driving heavier cars as another justification for Trump’s campaign to slash fuel efficiency standards by about 25 percent.

Trump’s plan to aid big oil was alleged to be supported by data based on computer modeling the Department of Transportation and EPA said  justified slashing fuel economy standards. However, it was just revealed that back in June “senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency privately warned [the data] is flawed and unsupportable.” After a month of peddling fake news with fake data about why Americans will have to buy more gas and drive heavier, less fuel-efficient vehicles; the “private warning” became public courtesy of “newly released agency documents.”

Despite senior officials’ warnings, the special interests running Trump’s EPA made clear when it first unveiled the proposal that Trump is resolved to freeze mileage targets for six years. That intention is precisely “the alternative the senior EPA officials found the  least supportable.” Indeed, even automobile manufacturers were concerned that Trump is overreaching and creating uncertainty and distress in the industry. Car makers may not like working to achieve higher fuel efficiency, but they damn sure know the consumers want and will continue buying higher-mileage vehicles.

It is no joke. Trump’s EPA is promoting an archaic idea to frighten Americans to convince them that California’s fuel efficiency targets have to be drastically weakened to prevent more Americans from dying. It is noteworthy that 17 other states have joined a California-led coalition suing to block Trump’s gift to big oil because it includes revoking “the authority California and other states were granted under the Clean Air Act to pursue clean air targets” – something that actually protects citizens’ health. Now California and its cohort states have Trump’s EPA warnings to justify their battle to provide their residents something every American alive likely believes is not insane – higher fuel efficiency automobiles and cleaner air due to less carbon emissions.

As a smattering of outlets, primarily those concerned with the environment, have noted, the revelations from EPA officials will be “a potent weapon in the legal arsenal of California and the states allied with it suing the Trump administration.” As noted in the L.A. Times, Trump proceeded with an insane plan after his EPA officials “raised multiple red flags in June about Trump’s assertion that higher fuel efficiency targets will result in a surge of traffic deaths.”

A month after those “official warnings,” Trump released a plan that is “grounded in several assumptions experts cautioned were indefensible,” and in fact “would be detrimental to safety, rather than beneficial.” The proposal would force Americans to buy more gasoline, and suffer the adverse health effects of higher carbon emissions that are the result of burning more gasoline. (author bold)

The director of the Safe Climate Campaign and affiliate with the Center for Auto Safety, Dan Becker, addressed Trump’s intent to sell more gasoline by contradicting his assertion that higher fuel economy standards contribute to higher traffic fatalities. Mr. Becker said:

Fatalities have declined while fuel economy standards have become more stringent since they first took effect in the 1970’s. The reason is better technology and design, not the changing weight of vehicles.”

Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and he stated the obvious:

“As if it isn’t bad enough that the Trump administration’s proposal deals a major blow to American consumers, automakers and equipment manufacturers, and the environment, today we obtained even more evidence that it’s based on bogus science and fundamentally flawed assumptions.

The administration’s own EPA itemized its technical concerns about the plan’s baseless claims, but the White House seems to have willfully ignored much of it and chose instead to release a deeply flawed proposed rule that almost certainly will be struck down in court. The facts might be inconvenient for the Trump administration, but this White House cannot simply dismiss the clear science, especially against the advice of its own experts.”

Mr. Becker is right, of course, except the part about the White House not dismissing “the clear science” or “the advice of its own experts.” Trump doesn’t accept scientific evidence about anything, and as far as following, or even considering, the advice of his own experts, remember that he was advised against withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Paris Climate Accord, and the Iran Nuclear agreement, as well as imposing tariffs on America’s allies.

Although the recently revealed “warnings” from Trump’s own EPA dealt primarily with the insanity of imposing rules to sell more gasoline, the devastating impact on the environment of burning more fossil fuels cannot be ignored or understated. States like California and its partners pursuing higher mileage standards are not on a crusade to hurt big oil or create problems for the auto industry; they are attempting to protect their residents from the dire health effects of purposely increasing carbon emissions.

Of course Trump could not possibly care less about the health of Californians or any American alive now or the foreseeable future. It is worth mentioning again that even before his drive to force Americans to buy more gas due to reduced fuel efficiency, his EPA actions thus far will, “under the most conservative estimate, cost the lives of over 80 000 US residents per decade and lead to respiratory problems for many more than 1 million people.”

The only good news out of this story is that although legal experts claimed the Trump crusade would be difficult to defend in court, it will be even more of a task to defend an action his own experts claim is “unsupportable, indefensible, and detrimental to safety, rather than beneficial.” The bad news is that Trump is as opposed to experts as he is determined to decimate the environment no matter how many Americans he kills in the process – a fact that became evident to many Americans shortly after his poorly attended inauguration.

Michigan residents warned to stop drinking poisoned water

One of Trump’s first executive orders after his very poorly attended inauguration was allowing coal companies to dump toxic waste into water sources. Shortly thereafter, the cretin directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace the Clean Water act with a decade-old idea proffered by deceased Antonin Scalia based on his conservative opinion; not on “hydrology, biology, chemistry, or environmental concerns.”

Suffice it to say, with Republicans in charge of the government and a majority of the states, the concept of “Clean Water” is now almost exclusively the purview of special interests with no interest in protecting water for human consumption.

It should be no great shock, then, that two Michigan communities had such “dangerously high levels of industrial chemicals” in their drinking water that it prompted officials to issue an emergency alert warning citizens to stop using the water.  The residents of Parchment and Cooper Townships were warned late Thursday:

To immediately stop using their water for drinking, cooking, making baby formula and food, or rinsing fruits and vegetables … and cautioned that boiling it would not remove PFAS, nor would filters.” Officials also called on “residents using the City of Parchment’s water supply, which includes Cooper Township, to help spread this message to your neighbors.”

The two municipalities in Kalamazoo County began receiving bottled water Friday morning because:

High amounts of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were detected by the [Michigan]  Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The state agency tests yielded 1,410 parts per trillion in the drinking water supply.”

The level of PFAS was a whopping 20 times higher than the “lifetime health advisory” according to the EPA, although a recent study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the EPA revealed “that the health advisory should be set far lower.

According to the Detroit News, the toxic water is so dangerous that the State Emergency Operations Center was activated putting police, the Department of Environmental Quality, Health and Human Services, and the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team on alert. At least in this latest toxic event, and unlike the disaster in Flint, Michigan officials are not denying the danger or waiting to provide clean water to the affected citizens; it is a midterm election year after all.

Gov. Rick Snyder (R) did not claim ignorance of the problem like he did during the still ongoing  Flint water system crisis. Snyder said in a statement that the health of residents would be prioritized in addition to ensuring their access to drinking water.

Our next step is to work as a team to address the source of this contamination and restore the municipal water system.”

House Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) represents the area and posted his reaction to the news of more poisoned water on Facebook. He said “he would be meeting with state and local officials to mount a response and called on the Trump administration to crack down on PFAS. [The} immediate need is to get to the bottom of this and ensure folks have safe drinking water in the meantime.”

City officials claimed they were not sure how the man-made chemicals entered the water sources, although they do know, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that PFAS is found in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. PFAS is nothing to ignore as it can lead to severe health problems because it affects the human immune system leading to an increased risk of cancer and liver disease, “among other health hazards.”

This is not the only instance of PFAS contamination and it is not restricted to Michigan. Just this week New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued human consumption limits for fish found in a dozen bodies of water over PFAS concerns. Other states, including Alabama, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have either drawn up drafts or were proactive and actually finalized new limits on the amount of PFAS their citizens can safely ingest. In Pennsylvania, another state struggling to overcome “severe PFAS contamination,” lawmakers and community leaders are begging the EPA to issue new PFAS health standards; but they are not calling on anyone to  ban the dangerous toxin or severely punish industry caught releasing it into water sources.

With Trump’s special interest puppet running the EPA, it is highly unlikely there will be any real action to restrict the chemical’s release into Americans’ water sources. The Republicans in charge of the EPA and CDC, and even Trump,  may offer lip service during a midterm election year, but it is doubtful there will be any real action. Remember, Trump follows the Koch-Heritage-GOP script carefully and claims that the environmental and health regulations regarding industry poisoning drinking water are killing jobs –  it is the reason he has given with every new executive order eliminating different aspects of the Clean Water Act and rollback of environmental protections.

The only good news is that Michigan officials were actually running periodic tests on the affected water sources and alerted the public to stop using their water. It is not clear how long the PFAS levels have been 20 times higher than is considered safe over a lifetime, but at that rate it is difficult to imagine there will not be serious health ramifications in the future due to even limited exposure.

Since this issue is widespread and has been ongoing, it is likely all the attention now is due to the looming midterm elections. Based on the Republican support for Trump’s assault on the Clean Water Act and coupled with attacks on regulations restricting industry pouring toxic waste into water supplies, the sense of urgency by some Michigan officials seems insincere at best. Particularly when officials are asking the people impacted by poisoned water to do the job state and federal agencies exist to do; warn the people to stop using poisoned water.

Image: Danny Miller – AP

Trump will have blood on his hands by eliminating California’s emissions waiver

It is no secret that Republicans despise California because the majority of its people hold beliefs contrary to everything conservatives love. It is particularly true that Trump hates California whether it is because the state’s economy is humming along after the people voted to raise taxes, or because the majority of the people recognize that Trump is a worthless charlatan, or because the people love and desire clean air and water enough to support environmental regulations.

There is not much Trump can do about the majority of Californians detesting him on general principles, something he knew before his poorly attended inauguration. But he and Republicans have punished the people for raising taxes by eliminating their ability to deduct them on their federal income tax returns.

Now Trump is preparing to punish Californians’ health and welfare, and their economic lives,  by revoking the Golden State’s authority to set its own vehicle emission and fuel efficiency standards; actions that would provide no benefits whatsoever for the people. It is just one reason why the majority of Californians abhor Trump.

There are a couple of reasons Trump is punishing Californians this time; likely one reason is to repay the oil industry for its electoral support. The oil industry does oppose environmental regulations nearly as much as they hate the idea of higher fuel efficiency standards. There is also the issue of California refusing to force its law enforcement agencies to become de facto ICE and Border Patrol agents. Trump’s obsession with eliminating anything beneficial to the American people that occurred during a real President, Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House is also a contributing factor in his decision to inflict serious harm on Californians.

The rumors thus far are that Trump is going use the EPA to bring a screeching halt California’s ability to set its own fuel efficiency standards, and put the brakes on the state’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles in place under the Clean Air Act (CLA). In 2009, California earned a waiver under the CLA allowing it to set emissions standards for cars and trucks that exceed those of the federal government. States’ rights Republicans opposed the waiver because the Koch brothers oppose the concept of emissions standards as a matter of course.

The idea of putting a halt to higher fuel efficiency standards will impact more than just Californians because Trump, like the oil industry, wants all Americans to buy more fuel; Trump’s assault on fuel efficiency will be a nationwide affair. Although the economic injury of paying more for transportation is not necessarily life threatening, but ending California’s ability to set higher car and truck emission standards is.

According to the World Health Organization, California’s San Joaquin valley, a region known as “America’s salad bowl,” has the worst air pollution in the entirety of the United States. That pollution in and around fertile farmland providing much of the country’s, and the world’s, fruits, nuts and vegetables is also the cause of higher rates of cancer, asthma, and several hundred premature deaths every year.

The World Health Organization also reported that in 2012 alone, “premature deaths from air pollution” was responsible for over 7 million deaths worldwide. The number of premature deaths in the San Joaquin portion of the “Great Central Valley” number several hundred every year and that is in spite of what Republicans claim are devastating air quality regulations that include vehicle emission standards. Those mortality numbers will only increase with Trump’s deregulatory crusade, but those deaths and health issues mean nothing to Trump, Republicans, and the oil industry.

Anyone who has spent any time in the San Joaquin valley can attest to the effects of pollution caused primarily from oil drilling, traffic and farming; most recently car and truck tailpipe emissions have been identified as the leading cause of pollution with oil drilling overtaking the damage from agricultural chemical pollutants.

It is true that California has a robust air quality resources agency, but “regional” air pollution control districts in “the valley” districts represented by Republicans Devin Nunes, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and special interest puppet Jeff Denham play according to special interest rules.

Those Republican-dominated regional “air quality representatives” pander to businesses vehemently opposed to clean air and water regulations. This author can attest that those local air quality representatives lie like Trump by asserting that state and federal environmental protections are “highly destructive” and are killing off “family” businesses responsible for pollution.

For example, during an editorial board meeting a few years ago at a McClatchy newspaper serving the San Joaquin Valley, the Republican from the local air resources board complained bitterly that California emission standards were destroying too many “family businesses” up and down the valley; particularly the southern part of the valley. After a brief but heated exchange with this author, the air quality representative conceded that the “family businesses” were really oil drilling and refining operations run by some of the nation’s largest oil companies. As an aside, the Koch brothers contribute more to Republican candidates for state offices, including local air quality boards, in California than any other state. The Kochs are also responsible for all manner of “ballot initiatives” seeking to eliminate the Golden State’s environmental protections.

As the director of Sierra Club California, Kathryn Phillips, rightly noted: “They are conspiring to change the [air quality] standards so things don’t look as dirty as they are.”

The only glimmer of hope Californians have to cling to is, according to Dan Sperling of the California Air Resources Board, “We have the law on our side, as well as the people of the country and the people of the world.”

An attorney for Earthjustice, Paul Cort, concurred with Mr. Sperling:

California has done the math, and it’s concluded that the only way to meet both its greenhouse gas goals and its ozone targets is to move away from fossil fuel-based transportation. The law is very clear about California’s authority to set these standards, and for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to try to narrow it now means they have an uphill battle.”

Whether Trump likes it or not, Californians are like most Americans who want vehicles with higher fuel efficiency as much as they want clean air. The latter is an honest-to-dog existential issue and the former is economic. The only people in America that lust for lower fuel efficiency vehicles are the Koch brothers and their dirty oil industry cohorts. They are also the primary drivers of the conservative anti-environmental movement condoning higher cancer rates, respiratory problems, birth defects, and premature deaths if it increases their profits. Of course Trump is as inhumane as the Koch brothers and he hates California, but this atrocity is as much about reversing another good thing President Obama provided the people as it is Trump’s flagrant disregard for human life.

There is little doubt that Trump will publicly revel in aiding the fossil fuel industry with what is being touted as a major deregulatory action, with the value-added treat of punishing Californians. The real question is whether he will celebrate publicly that his obsession with eliminating President Barack Obama’s life- and environment-saving actions means he will have California residents’ blood on his hands.

 

Celebrating Pruitt’s departure ignores the danger of his replacement

The endemic corruption permeating Trump’s administration is so ridiculously mind boggling that describing the so-called “swamp” as a rotting special interest cesspool is an understatement. Trump and the GOP’s plan to hand the government over to special interests was glaringly apparent immediately after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration based on the insertion of special interests throughout the federal government.

It is safe to say that there are no federal agencies or departments in Trump’s cesspool that are not infested with greedy special interests or industry lobbyists intent on dismantling the organization they were tapped to lead into ruination. That particular outrage is best represented by evangelical malcontents Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt. In Pruitt’s case, the sworn enemy of environmental regulations is now the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the celebratory mood on the Left is curious indeed.

Although there is an abundance of glee that Pruitt was allegedly pushed out over a dozen or so ethics investigations, it is clear that cheering Pruitt’s exit as some kind of victory is incredibly foolish. Obviously the people celebrating Pruitt’s “removal” are unaware that his temporary replacement is just as hazardous to the environment, and Americans’ health and welfare, as Pruitt. The new anti-environment crusader will be much worse simply because he is a seasoned Washington insider and fossil fuel  industry lobbyist who knows how to achieve Trump’s goals without drawing attention to himself or Trump’s corrupt administration.

It was reported shortly after news of Pruitt’s exit as EPA head that the only reason he was “forced out” was the optics of one of Trump’s operatives being perpetually investigated for ethics violations  – not his job performance and not because he was an unethical cretin like his boss in the Oval Office. In fact, Trump has praised Pruitt profusely for decimating environmental regulations at the behest of the fossil fuel and chemical industries which is the only reason he was appointed in the first place. Who better to eviscerate environmental regulations, and dismantle they EPA, than a special interest puppet whose self-professed claim to fame was suing the federal agency he wanted abolished to sate the greed of the fossil fuel industry.

Now that Pruitt is no longer doing the heavy lifting for the Koch brothers et al, no sane American should breathe a sigh of relief that the EPA will suddenly fulfill its mandate and revert to protecting the environment and Americans’ health and welfare; especially not with a coal industry lobbyist running the show.

Despite the bluster and claims that he was decimating, especially “Obama-era,” environmental protections, by all accounts Scott Pruitt was as inept as he is corrupt and evangelically extreme. The man serving as acting EPA chief, Andrew Wheeler, is anything but incompetent. Of course he lacks whatever sense of ethical obligation to help protect his fellow Americans from the dirty filthy fossil fuel industry. That being the case, it should be no surprise that Wheeler shares Pruitt’s “passion” for completely deregulating the fossil fuel industry; he has spent the great majority of his lobbying career on behalf of the energy industry and, in particular, the dirty filthy coal companies. His particular speciality was lobbying Republicans to expedite the industry’s demand that Republicans “weaken federal regulations” if not abolish them with prejudice. Like Trump and Pruitt, Wheeler thinks he is smarter than 97 percent of the Earth’s scientist and denies the existential damage of ignoring global climate change.

As noted by many pundits and environmental activists, Wheeler is the epitome of a Washington insider who works “behind the scenes” to help “kill off regulations” the fossil fuel industry and other industrial polluters complain are restricting their profits. And unlike Pruitt, Wheeler will not be announcing which regulations protecting Americans’ water and air he just abolished. In effect, Wheeler will “reshape America’s environmental policies to benefit his powerful friends in the energy industry” at the expense of Americans’ health and welfare. Don’t believe it?

Even before being appointed as “acting” EPA chief, while Wheeler worked for Murray Energy he heavily lobbied the Department of Energy to start using taxpayer dollars to provide federal  subsidies for coal producers. Fortunately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rightly “struck down the proposal” despite intense pressure from Trump’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Wheeler was also part of the lobbying team that pushed Trump to open up Big Ears National Monument in Utah to a uranium mining company’s operation. Wheeler was a determined proponent of exempting industrial plants from adhering to pollution controls after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and he waged a ferocious battle to shield polluters from liability for the harm they caused by the release of toxic chemicals into the air and water.

Look, there is little doubt that Scott Pruitt, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, did not represent the scum of the Trump administration cesspool; both because Pruitt is unethical and because his intent was only ever serving the special interests in the fossil fuel, chemical and manufacturing industries. Now, there is a very competent, behind the scenes, kind of scum that will fight against protecting the environment with the same zeal as his lobbying effort on behalf of the country’s largest private coal company. The results will be the demise of the nation’s environmental and public health regulations that Trump and the Koch brothers want eliminated. It is true no-one in their right mind will miss Scott Pruitt, but they will likely miss being aware of exactly what damage the head of the Environmental Protection Agency plans to wreak on the environment and the American people.

400-year-old trees cut down with blessings of Trump’s BLM

It is fair to claim that Republicans have done nothing positive for the American people over the past couple of decades at least; what can be termed “in the public interest” is of no use to Republicans. In fact, it is also a fair claim that Republicans have been relentless in taking away anything good about America no matter how popular or beneficial it is to the population, or how long it has been a crucial part of America.

With Trump in the White House, Republicans have been on a tear attacking anything of interest to the people, but it is not all down to dunce Don Trump. Republicans have crusaded, often in the shadows, to abolish decades-old programs created specifically for the people such as Social Security, workplace protections, social safety nets, financial regulations and anything remotely connected to FDR’s New Deal.

According to Republicans, and now Trump, there is nothing in or about America worth protecting or preserving any longer whether it is the New Deal, public land, or a 400 year old stand of trees on public, federally protected land, Nothing is sacred to Republicans or Trump if it involves the “public interest,” and a travesty in Oregon is a clarion call for action to preserve Americans’ land and their natural, national treasures.

Since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, there has been a concerted effort to sate the land and natural resources lust of Utah Mormons and the Koch brothers who are funding the GOP’s “public land grab” for their vast lumber, mining, and fossil fuel industries’ profits. This raping and pillaging of the public’s land did not begin with Trump or his dirty Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke; it has been as important to the fossil fuel, mining, and lumber industries as the drive to wipe out the Environmental Protection Agency.  In fact, over that past few years, Republicans have enthusiastically embraced Mormon Cliven Bundy’s crusade to seize the public’s land and it is no coincidence that Trump went to Utah first to deliver precisely what the Utah Mormon’s have demanded for years – possession of federally protected public lands.

Before commenting on why there is a tiny minority of the population vehemently opposed to the concept of “public land,” and who is behind the highly-unpopular “land grab,” it is worth noting why this new policy of giving public land over to corporate interests is an atrocity.

Earlier in the month in Oregon, a private lumber company senselessly  wiped out a stand of 400-year-old trees on the public’s land. As noted by conservationists, some of the trees were old-growth cedars and Douglas firs and cannot be brought back anytime within the next two or three centuries. To make the matter that much more infuriating, the trees “were” home to an endangered species, the Northern Spotted Owl. And the denuding occurred without the public’s knowledge or input.

And just in case the public did discover what was about to transpire, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allowed the private timber company, Lone Rock Resources, to build gates to keep the public and the media from even approaching the public’s land. Local residents were not amused and complained that the entire affair was done behind closed doors; likely because the outrage and protests would have been robust.

One outraged group on Facebook fairly summed up the entire process that is going to be occurring regularly in Trump’s America to sate Utah Mormons, Republicans, and the Koch brothers. The group rightly said:

Your public lands are being handed away behind closed doors without your say so, and regardless of protest.”

The regional director for a conservation group, Cascadia Wildlands, stated how outrageous of an insult, and serious assault on natural treasures, this action was:

It’s very rare to find old-growth forests like this, and it’s going to be cut down for a senseless road.”

The private lumber company needed a “senseless road” to easily access a few acres of plantation land it intends to  clear cut (denude}, so it “legally” wiped out a stand of “rare” old-growth trees with the blessings of Trump’s Interior Department. The issue isn’t only the blatant disregard for trees older than America, or wiping out the habitat of an endangered species of owl, or that Trump’s BLM under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is keeping the public unawares that their lands, and their natural resources, are being decimated to profit a private enterprise. It is that it is being done on the public’s land and against the public’s wishes; all to profit a private company. And although that land won’t be “public ” much longer, no groups will be happier than Utah Mormons and the Koch brothers. And it is not just this author’s opinion either. And no, there is no author bias against Mormons; just their belief that the federal government cannot own and protect the public’s land.

Some Americans may recall that the main complaint of Mormon extremist Cliven Bundy of the infamous “Bundy Ranch Standoff” was what he called the abomination of “public land” under protection of the land’s owner, the federal government. That “standoff” incited Republicans to join the Mormon and Koch brothers crusade to force the federal government to cede its ownership of protected “public lands” to Republican controlled states to sell off to private interests.

Republican governors and members of Congress jumped at the opportunity to aid the Bundy Mormons’ demand that the federal government immediately cede ownership of all national forests and public lands to the states; going so far as anointing Bundy as a true American hero and patriot. Bundy’s bent about the federal government owning land was, and still is, a longstanding issue with Mormons. But Republicans joined the fight to aid the Koch brothers.

In fact, Republicans would likely write and pass legislation forcing the government to hand over its land directly to the Koch brothers, but that may raise suspicions among Americans that Utah Mormons and Republicans in Congress exist to enrich the Koch brothers. It is particularly true since several Utah Republicans have cultivated a reputation as honest-to-dog “public lands enemies.”

Where the Mormon’s believe their god-given destiny is taking all land in the West, the Kochs believe they are destined to take all of the nation’s natural resources; no matter whose land it is. As Christine Colbert confessed in an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Mormons believe religiously that their crusade to force the federal government to relinquish ownership of the public’s land is simply “an effort to ‘take back’ what they believe is rightfully theirs.” Based on the staggering amount of money the Kochs are investing in the Utah Republicans’ land grab agenda, they obviously believe the nation’s natural resources are “rightfully theirs.”

This land grab, and decimation of the public’s national treasures, is a highly unpopular proposal. To belabor the point, last year Zinke’s EPA solicited public comments hoping to find that most Americans were like Utah Mormons, but he discovered that 98 percent of respondents were not only favorable about keeping public land, monuments and national parks as they are now, they “favored” expanding them. Shortly after learning of the public’s favorable opinion about their federal land, Zinke went directly and recommended that Trump modify (read shrink) at least 10 National Parks and Monuments.

Now, if anyone is curious about which demographic makes up the 2 percent of the population opposed to public lands, parks and monuments, consider that Mormons in America make up 1.7 percent of the population. It is likely no stretch of the imagination that the remaining 3-tenths of one percent are in the mining, lumber and fossil fuel business. As noted by people keeping score, it is primarily the Mormons and Koch brothers driving the GOP’s land grab agenda and plans to sell off federal land, national parks and monuments to private enterprise.

Some Americans may think cutting down 400-year old “natural monuments” is no big deal, even if it was to profit a private timber company. But what happened in Oregon is already in the works across the nation and along its coastlines. There are big plans to begin mining highly-toxic uranium in Utah and the Grand Canyon, and besides despoiling Americans’ land, threatening their health and their national treasures, the plans will primarily benefit a Canadian uranium producer, Energy Fuels. It is unclear if Energy Fuels is following China’s and other foreign nations’ lead and bribing Trump for favors, but it is not out of the realm of possibility whatsoever.

Look, the public lands, national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas belong to all Americans; it is one of the things that really “made America great” because they benefit all the people. But what the people want is of no consequence to Trump, Republicans, Utah Mormons or the Koch brothers; especially if it is beneficial to all the people. In fact, it almost appears that Republicans are crusading to take the public’s land and hand it over to corporate ownership simply because the overwhelming majority of people have a highly-favorable opinion of their public land. But the truth is that there is big money for the Kochs, and religious satisfaction for the Mormons; neither will be sated until they have stolen the entirety of Americans’ lands to rape and pillage at their pleasure.

Under Pruitt the EPA is killing Americans in god’s name

According to the mission statement of the EPA, the agency conceived by a Republican president was “created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations.” It is a very straight-forward and simple mission; protect the people’s health and lives by protecting the environment from polluters.

Republicans serving the interests of the fossil fuel industry disagree with the EPA’s mission on principle; “the environment” is not donating tens-of-millions of dollars to Republican politicians. That being the case, Republicans have lusted for decades to put an end to protecting the environment without regard for Americans’ health or lives. Republicans have no interest in protecting anything except their wealthy donors, guns and single celled organisms to sate their special interests’ greed and nasty control issues. The concept of protecting Americans’ lives has had no place in “pro-life” religious Republican politics for some time now because it is not profitable.

The man Trump tapped to lead the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is one of those religious Republicans who claims to be pro-life, but has spent the past year systematically neutering the EPA’s ability to protect human lives and the environment.  As of late, Pruitt, an evangelical malcontent of some repute, has been “playing the god card” again to justify his fossil fuel environmental agenda; including citing his bastardized interpretation of the Christian bible as authority for his deadly environmental deregulation rampage.

Pruitt claims god gave humans a mandate to use, and apparently abuse, Earth’s resources, but only those dirty resources that are profitable to the GOP’s fossil fuel masters. The concept of using any of Earth’s free, renewable and clean resources such as wind, solar, and hydro is abominable to Pruitt. Probably because although those clean resources are allegedly gifts from Pruitt’s god according to his Stone Age mentality, they do not enrich the fossil fuel industry.

According to one religious man who occasionally acts like what a “real Christian” is purported to be, and is the spiritual leader of roughly 1.2 billion Christians around the world, Pruitt’s claim that his god and the  bible support a deadly environmental crusade is completely wrong.

It is noteworthy that when Pope Francis issued an environmental encyclical a couple of years ago, he specifically addressed Pruitt’s interpretation of  “man’s dominion” over the Earth as cruel because raping and pillaging the Earth is killing millions of human beings. In fact, it almost appears that Pope Francis was specifically targeting Pruitt, Trump, Republicans and their fossil fuel masters for what he claimed were “sins committed against the environment.”

The Pope pointed out that the “selfish system motivated by profit at any price” is “turning the planet into a polluted wasteland full of debris, desolation and filth … When [we] hurt the Earth, we hurt the poor and most vulnerable who are already suffering its impact.”

Apparently, and according to Pruitt’s biblical interpretation, his god supports hurting the Earth and the poor or he would not have given his “godly” blessing to turn the planet into a wasteland. That “wasteland,” by the way, is already killing over nine million human beings prematurely, and that is only the death count from pollution. Those numbers do not include the suffering and deaths resulting from anthropogenic climate change.

The atrocity in America is that religious Republicans carrying the “pro-life” banner are abolishing environmental rules and regulations that can drastically reduce pollution-related deaths among their constituents. That is why Scott Pruitt claiming god as justification for eliminating environmental protections is just beyond vile.

In America in 2012, there were 200,000 deaths from “air pollution”  and because there was an administration concerned about the health and welfare of Americans, new environmental rules resulted in 130,000 deaths by 2016. It is noteworthy that those Obama-era environmental rules have been abolished by Trump, and where rules are still in effect Pruitt has directed EPA inspectors to stop enforcing various environmental laws despite the drastic harm to the population. It is noteworthy that Trump has as much blood on his hands as Pruitt whether the  Oval Office sinner invokes god or not

Last fall in an effort to justify eliminating more environmental protections, Pruitt citedhis Christian bible as support for purging the agency of scientists and barring them from serving in advisory posts. He used some Old Testament scripture to justify appointing fossil fuel industry personnel and Republicans indebted to the industry as policy advisors. Pruitt claimed he needed “diversity” of opinions, or what the Trump administration calls “alternative facts,” to set environmental policy.

Trump concurred with Pruitt’s action banning scientists and this week the White House called on a federal court to dismiss an ethics lawsuit against Pruitt and the EPA. It is unclear how the recently Trump-appointed judge will rule on a challenge to the ethics of replacing scientists with fossil fuel industry advocates likely employed by the Koch brothers as EPA policy advisors.

It is not clear how many more times Scott Pruitt is going to invoke his god to despoil the environment and kill off hundreds-of-thousands of Americans every year. It is true that Pruitt has not yet cited a passage in his Christian bible to support not doing his taxpayer-funded job, or deliberately preventing the agency he runs from fulfilling its mission, but he did find a scripture to support decimating the environment, and kill Americans in the process. They call people like Pruitt “religious extremists and fanatics” for good reasons.

This administration brought a world of doom and gloom to America after 8 years of beneficial changes for the environment and Americans’ health – albeit in tiny, hard-won increments. Now with Trump and an evangelical miscreant like Pruitt demolishing the EPA from the inside, and then invoking his god as justification for eliminating rules enacted to protect Americans, it is a fair assessment that they have a wanton disregard for human life.

It was just reported, again, that there is an alarming increase of birth defects, low birth rate, asthma and cancer in and around oil and gas “fracking” sites, but Congress and the Pruitt-led EPA has resisted taking any steps to enact new, or enforce existing, environmental rules because Republicans control Congress and the fossil fuel industry controls Republicans. Those children in Flint Michigan who ingested and bathed in mercury-laden water will suffer lifelong developmental consequences and yet Republicans and the EPA are still not concerned enough to address the mercury poisoning going on in other areas of the nation,  including in hundreds of public schools.

It is telling about the state of this nation and its people that they have willingly installed a government indebted to special interests, and in their crusade to serve those interests the Republicans running the government are culpable of killing Americans by the tens-of-thousands annually. It is terrifying that the man leading the Environmental Protection Agency responsible for protecting all Americans is using the EPA to kill and maim in god’s name like every other radical religious extremist.

Look, there is something horribly wrong with America and it is down to Americans who, for whatever reasons, are as lost and ignorant as Republicans are religious fanatics and inherently cruel. There has been some outrage after each gun massacre because innocent Americans were slaughtered at the hand of an extremist of some sort. And the nation went ballistic after 911 because innocent American lives were lost at the hands of foreign extremists.  When a gang of criminals knocked down some buildings and killed a few thousand Americans, the country united to support launching two wars against two innocent sovereign nations. No foreigners get to kill innocent Americans with impunity; right?

However, when a political party and the head of the EPA is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans by abolishing and refusing to enforce rules enacted to prevent those deaths, nothing happens and there is no outrage; even when the religious freak running the EPA plays the god card.

Image: Patheos

White House report vindicates President Obama’s regulatory agenda

One of the so-called pillars of conservatism is fervent resistance to change; like very unpleasant toddlers and petulant pre-teens. Republicans have never forgotten some progressive changes going back 80 years to the New Deal and they are still vehemently resisting those changes to the point of attempting to abolish them today.

What appears to rankle Republicans specifically is the very concept of the federal government regulating anything whatsoever, but particularly if it is a means of protecting Americans from the rich and powerful. Republicans particularly despise, and have resisted “vehemently,” any kind of regulations affecting the financial, energy, and commercial sector, or generally what Americans know as corporate America.

Republicans never fail to cite two specific economic reasons why they say regulations are an immoral act of federal government overreach,but their assertions have been disproven on a regular basis. Now the Trump White House has “quietly” joined the debunking effort.

As it turns out, according to a report from the Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget, Obama era regulations were not “job-killing” or economic disasters like Trump and Republicans contend. And, those federal regulations definitely produced a far greater economic benefit than they cost. Remember, this is the Trump administrations’ Office of Management and Budget vindicating President Obama’s regulatory agenda; it is not “fake news” or part of a liberal media conspiracy. Everything Trump and Republicans have asserted or still claim about President Obama’s regulations, or regulations in general, is fake news and typical Republican lies.

No doubt when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its “annual report” late last week amid a rash of Trump scandals, they were taking advantage of the typical Trump weekend outrages. A Trump administration report titled “Report to Congress on the benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Act”  is certainly not something Trump or his Republican cohort ever want the public to learn about. Specifically because they would learn, from Trump’s administration, that Republicans, Trump, the Kochs, ALEC, and the Heritage Foundation have been blatantly lying about “regulations as a general matter and wrong about President Obama’s regulations specifically.”

Those regulations, incidentally, “had benefits far in excess of their costs with no discernible effect on jobs or growth.” That last part, jobs and growth, was easily substantiated prior to the OMB report based on years of “regular job and economic growth” numbers during President Obama’s tenure. And all the while, Republicans screamed that President Obama’s regulations were killing jobs, retarding economic growth, and costing the American people dearly. However, according to the Trump OMB’s own reporting, the negative assertions from Republicans and Trump are patently false; particularly the false claims that the Obama regulations were killing jobs, the economy, and corporations.

The OMB analyzed data on all “major” federal regulations between 2006 and 2016 to produce a report founded on empirical data, not typical Heritage Foundation or Republicans’ “fake news.” Major federal regulations are considered those with $100 million or more in economic impact.

The aggregate costs of Obama era-regulations were “$59 to $88 billion” according to the federal agencies the OMB gathered data from. No matter how conservative of an estimate one makes, the $219 to $695 billion in benefits “wildly outweighed the costs” of federal regulations. What that means is that all of the Republican and Trump arguments against Obama Administration regulations, “arguably the organizing principle of Trump’s administration,” are demonstrably false; or in street parlance – filthy lies.

Any half sane American was aware Trump and Republicans’ assertions about President Obama’s regulations were false without a Trump OMB report. Like Republicans and Trump, most Americans heard reports about, or saw for themselves, the monthly job and economic growth reports proving that regulations were not bad for the economy. They were also not bad for “ordinary Americans” who benefitted from their enactment.

It is noteworthy to mention that environmental regulations, “specifically air pollution regulations” did in fact have the highest costs. However, they also have had the highest benefits exceeding those costs significantly. And it is particularly noteworthy that those “higher benefits” went to help the “ordinary American people” economically; but more crucially, it benefitted them with better health and longer lives.

David Roberts framed the issue of “regulatory costs versus benefits” in a very interesting way that informs another reason Republicans and Trump opposed President Obama’s environmental regulations. He wrote:

Air quality regulations serve as a downward redistribution of wealth, out of the pockets of industrialists and into the pockets of ordinary Americans, particularly the poor and vulnerable Americans (African Americans and Hispanics in particular) who tend to live closest to pollution sources. They shift costs, from the much higher health and social costs of pollution remediation to the comparatively smaller costs of pollution abatement.”

It didn’t take a Trump OMB report to “vindicate” President Obama’s regulatory agenda because the economy prospered and a record number of jobs were created in the midst of what Republicans claimed were deliberately cruel job and economy-killing regulations.

For example, the economy gained a net 11.6 million jobs; the unemployment rate dropped to below the historical norm; average weekly earnings for all workers were up 4.1 percent; after-tax corporate profits set new records, as did stock prices. It was nearly the same case during the Clinton Administration when the economy soared in spite of increased regulations, and like during the Clinton Administration,  those Obama regulations were accompanied by a slight tax hike on the very rich. Still, the economy grew, unemployment declined, corporations prospered, and the very rich became very much richer; and as a bonus American lives were saved.

Of course by now most Americans should be cognizant that Republicans and Trump exist solely to serve the rich and that includes giving the wealth of the nation, including the Treasury, to the already rich. But the only important way to frame this issue is that regulations save American lives.

The real story here, and the narrative for Democrats heading into the midterm elections, is that despite Obama’s regulations providing significantly more benefits than they cost, including a growing economy, Republicans and Trump have been eliminating them regardless of the harm to the people. Republicans are well aware that air pollution alone is responsible for killing over 200,000 Americans annually (in 2013), and yet with Trump’s assistance they have laid waste to 67 environmental rules in less than a year.

The message to the American people is not solely that Republicans and Trump are abolishing specifically environmental regulations that are economically beneficial and combat anthropogenic climate change; the message is that they are purposely eliminating regulations that save hundreds of thousands of American lives – all to enrich their wealthy corporate donors. If nothing else, it debunks their so-called “pro-life” status and should disabuse their base of any idea that either Republicans or Trump care if they live or die.

It is remarkable that President Obama’s regulatory agenda is now “officially vindicated” by the Trump’s own OMB, but it is noteworthy that unlike Republicans and Trump, President Obama’s actions were specific to saving Americans’ lives; something Trump or his Republican cohorts would never consider. In fact, they have demonstrated beyond dispute that they will kill American citizens by the tens-of-thousands to enrich their corporate masters.

Trump Is Helping the Kochs Kill America’s Solar Industry and Jobs

It was, or rather it should have been, no surprise that Donald Trump lied when he announced a tariff on solar panels early this week, especially his claim the move was an integral part of a new aggressive trade policy. The move had little to do with trade policy and everything to do with Trump and Republicans’ love affair with, and indebtedness to, the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry and the Republicans’ decades-long assault on renewable energy.

Although Trump is the culprit in putting a tariff on solar panels, Republicans in Congress have maintained a relatively steady assault on renewable energy since another dirty Republican, Ronald Reagan, declared war on clean power sources. That Republican war on solar power was gaining steam at about the same time China realized that the future of energy independence and a highly profitable and job-creating industry was in solar power. While Republicans were blocking progress on solar power, one forward-looking advanced nation  took the number one solar energy spot away from the world power that invented and developed solar panels while it was embracing more costly and dirty fossil fuels. Over two decades later, nothing has changed except an escalation in the Koch-Republican war on clean renewable energy.

First, Trump said imposing steep tariffs on solar panels was solely to “helps to create jobs in America for Americans.” That was a bald-faced lie and only a moron would believe otherwise.  The only result of Trump’s action will be crippling the solar industry by raising the cost of solar panels “in the years ahead and drastically slow adoption of the renewable energy technology and kill thousands of jobs.”

Experts in the solar energy field report that in America; “solar manufacturing now represents just a tiny fraction of the overall jobs that have developed around the solar industry.” The numbers don’t lie, and although way more than  a quarter of a million Americans are working in the solar energy sector, far fewer than 2,000 of those employed in the United States are working manufacturing solar cells and modules.

The great majority of those solar jobs, about 258,000 of them, are highly-skilled and manual labor installation and maintenance projects that the Solar Energy Industries Association say require expertise, are labor intensive and impossible to automate; unlike the manufacturing process. It is also noteworthy to mention that the two companies reportedly lobbying Trump for the high tariffs are subsidiaries of foreign companies. The two companies, Suniva and SolarWorld said they needed high tariffs on primarily Malaysian and South Korean competitors to help preserve the less than 2,000 solar panel manufacturing jobs in the United States. Trump has no interest in preserving the quarter of a million solar jobs affected by the higher cost panels, because the tariffs were not to preserve or create jobs; they are an escalation of the Koch-ALEC-Heritage Foundation war on renewable energy.

For some time now Republicans, with valuable aid from the Koch brothers’ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation, have been waging state-level wars against what is known as “renewable portfolio standard” (RPS). Those RPS have helped create tens-of-thousands of new renewable energy jobs, fill state coffers, and grow state economies as well as combat anthropogenic climate change. In states that attempted to expand RPS and create more jobs and bring in more revenue, Republicans have blocked the moves to earn hearty congratulations from ALEC and Heritage.

It is noteworthy that Trump, Republicans in Congress and state legislatures are attempting to do exactly what the Koch brothers tasked ALEC and Heritage Action to do; end renewable energy’s expansion by any means possible. Trump imposing tariffs on solar panels is part of the Koch war on clean and renewable energy, the environment, jobs, and economic growth to further enrich the fossil fuel industry. In fact, the Heritage Foundation has been touting victory for the fossil fuel industry and celebrating  “the death of the renewable energy movement” for a few years. In fact, Heritage recently praised the “colossal coal comeback” even as renewable energy, particularly solar power is a raging success in providing cleaner, cheaper, and ridiculously abundant energy from the Sun.

The war on renewable energy began when President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House roof in the midst of an oil shortage; Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels as a nod to big oil that renewable and inexpensive energy would not be allowed to impact fossil fuel profits. Republicans have never supported renewable energy because Koch brothers and their ilk cannot claim ownership of, or profit from, the Sun. If the Kochs could charge Americans to use the Sun, then every building in America would be fitted with solar panels and they would be furnished by the Koch brothers.

When Jimmy Carter unveiled the White House solar panels to the press, he said:

No one can ever embargo the sun or interrupt its delivery to us. A generation from now, this solar can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

It is likely that President Carter never imagined in his wildest dreams that American politicians would deliberately block access to the Sun’s energy. Nevertheless, that is what Trump’s imposition of tariffs on solar panels was meant to do precisely like the Koch brothers’ attacks on voter-approved renewable energy standards. For their part, Republicans in Congress have religiously blocked national renewable energy standards while doling out a healthy $21.5 billion in taxpayer-funded  subsidies (corporate welfare) to fossil fuel every year.

It is a sad commentary that in a crusade to serve the interests of one specific industry, a technologically advanced nation like America is reverting to inefficient, costly, and dirty power sources. Of course it is tempting to blame Trump, but like nearly everything disastrous that happened over the past year, he is just a typical Republican doing the bidding of the Koch brothers and the Heritage Foundation.

Perfectly Safe KeystoneXL Pipeline Springs Another Leak

For at least the second time in a few months a foreign corporation-owned oil pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. The leak occurred mere days before neighboring Nebraska decides whether to issue a permit for the oil export pipeline’s construction across part of America’s agricultural heartland as well as a massive aquifer supplying water to millions of Americans and farmers.

A spokesman for South Dakota’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Brian Walsh, said “this is the largest Keystone oil spill to date – in South Dakota.” In April of last year TransCanada “released” 16,800 gallons of oil that leaked from the “perfectly safe” Keystone Pipeline. Walsh said it only took two months to clean up “the majority of the spillage” from that leak; “the largest Keystone oil spill” to date at the time.

Mr. Walsh said that as of Thursday, a few hours after the leak was discovered, that there “were no initial reports of the oil spill affecting waterways, water systems, or wildlife. It is a below-ground pipeline but some oil has surfaced above ground to the grass. It will be a few days until they can excavate and get in borings to see if there is groundwater contamination.”

It is uncertain whether Nebraska will consider “groundwater contamination” in deciding if the pipeline can proceed through the state, but another Keystone pipeline leak within a few months will probably not influence Nebraska’s decision. The state is scheduled to announce this coming Monday about whether to permit the foreign corporation (TransCanada) to expand construction through Nebraska.

The foreign corporation that owns and operates the “perfectly safe” Keystone pipeline, TransCanada released the same kind of statement they did in April when Keystone leaked. “The safety of the public and environment are our top priorities and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.

It was particularly nice of the foreign corporation to assure the public that it was working with state and federal agencies when they should have worked diligently to make sure their leak-prone pipeline was secure. No doubt TransCanada is frantically “working” diligently on Nebraska state agencies and officials who will announce on Monday whether to allow their state to host a “perfectly safe” pipeline; something Greenpeace said should be an easy decision.

The environmental activist group said this “latest” spill “shows that another section of the pipeline in Nebraska should not be approved.” Rachel Rye Butler spoke for environmentalists and sane Americans saying:

The Nebraska Public Service Commission needs to take a close look at this spill. A permit approval allowing Canadian oil company TransCanada to build Keystone XL is a thumbs-up to likely spills in the future.”

Kelly Martin is the director of the Sierra Club campaign, “Beyond Dirty Fuels,” and reiterated what no small number of environmental groups have known is a fact of life about oil pipelines:

We’ve always said it’s not a question of whether a pipeline will spill, but when, and today TransCanada is making our case for us. This is not the first time TransCanada’s pipeline has spilled toxic tar sands, and it won’t be the last. There is no such thing as a safe tar sands pipeline, and the only way to protect Nebraska communities from more tar sand spills is to say no to Keystone XL.

Despite warnings of spills, and President Barack Obama’s rejection of TransCanada’s permit to build the pipeline, the fossil fuel industry running the government is not going to “say no to Keystone XL” even if Nebraska rejects the project. Republicans and Trump claim the pipeline is crucial to eliminating America’s dependency on foreign oil, but they know the foreign-owned pipeline is a transit medium for toxic oil-sands from Alberta Canada on a route through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska; where it will eventually “feed Texas Gulf Coast refineries.”

After refining and processing, much of it by Koch industries, that oil is already slated for export to China and Europe. None of that oil was ever intended to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil because it belongs to a foreign corporation, and the Koch brothers, who are going to profit by selling it to foreign nations.

It is noteworthy to mention that if America is so desperate to end its dependency on “foreign oil,” then why did congressional Republicans lift a 40-year ban on selling American oil on the foreign export market last year? As of February of this year, American oil exports to “foreign nations” were at record levels because America is flush with oil and the industry wants more profits.

In fact, in May of this year, Trump proposed selling off half of America’s emergency oil stockpile and the entire backup gasoline supply – to foreign nations. Trump’s head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, said at the time that it was “the responsible thing to do … especially when we have increased domestic production like we have today.”

Even an imbecile should demand to know why, if America is so damn dependent on foreign oil, is the Trump administration anxious to sell off half the emergency reserves and why is the oil industry selling record levels of American oil to foreign nations? And how in dog’s name is a foreign-owned pipeline carrying foreign oil across prime agriculture land and one of the nation’s “most used aquifers” en route to more foreign nations helping reduce the country’s dependency on foreign oil?

The Keystone XL pipeline is for the sole benefit of a foreign corporation, the Koch brothers, and the oil export industry. Not only are Americans not going to see that oil except for when the pipeline leaks, in order to process tar sand through the pipeline it will take a significant amount of already processed oil to keep it moving on its way to the Gulf for refining and export to foreign nations. And besides endangering the Ogallala Aquifer and prime agricultural land, oil industry experts predict it will increase the cost of diesel fuel at the pump by about 25-cents per gallon for American consumers. Likely worse, though, is the existential cost to the planet of developing tar sands (bitumen) that leading climate scientists say means “game over for the environment.

There is no good reason for allowing a foreign corporation to construct a leak-prone tar sand pipeline across America’s “agricultural heartland” that endangers the environment, creates health risks, raises gas prices and decimates the climate. The only reason the pipeline is going forward, and it will go forward, is because the fossil fuel industry now holds comfortable majorities in both houses of Congress and own the rubber stamp in the Oval Office.

Study Shows Trump’s EPA Policies Will Kill Tens-of-Thousands Yearly

 

According to newly released research, Donald Trump is going to have the early deaths of tens-of-thousands of American citizens on his hands every year. It isn’t hyperbole or exaggeration, and the real atrocity is that those fatalities are preventable and were on the decline until Trump appointed a fossil fuel acolyte to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) right into the ground.

The new report published in The Lancet revealed that across the world pollution is responsible for one out of every six deaths; a tad over 9 million human beings in 2015. The research was produced by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health and reported that the largest contributor to “early death” was air pollution claiming about 6.5 million lives. Water pollution posed the “next greatest threat” and accounted for 1.8 million “early deaths” followed by workplace-related pollution that caused just under a million “early deaths.”

One of the study’s commissioners said that until the 2015 research, scientists were aware that part and parcel of the pollution issue were thousands of chemicals that people are exposed to in the air and water. “We just didn’t know enough about what chemicals are doing to people.” Now they do know and they know those chemicals were responsible for killing 9 million people globally in 2015.

America isn’t as bad off as some aspiring industrial nations, but that is changing because Trump is Hell-bent and duty-bound to the fossil fuel industry to decimate environmental regulations that are reducing the cause of “early American deaths” significantly. Americans may be more fortunate than some people, but still, a little over 5 percent of all deaths in America are the result of pollution; in 2015 that number was over 130,000 American citizens and was on the decline with an administration that cared about the lives of the American people. The environmental regulations under President Barack Obama were specifically executed to protect the health and welfare of the American people in conjunction with combating climate change.

As is always the case, in every country of every income level diseases caused by pollution were “most prevalent among minorities and the marginalized.” The director of the health, nutrition, and population global practice and the World Bank Group and one of the study’s commissioners, Dr. Olusoji Adevi said what some Americans already know and experience for themselves.

Pollution disproportionately impacts the poor and the vulnerable. Children face the highest risks. It is important to translate awareness into action at the local, national, and global levels.”

Prior to Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration, America was taking action at the national level and was leading the global effort to control the release of chemicals killing off human beings by the millions every year. Trump changed all that by exiting the Paris Climate Accord, ending the Clean Power Plan, and turning the EPA over to a fossil fuel employee intent on neutering the agency responsible for saving American lives from pollution.

It is noteworthy that President Obama’s Clean Power Plan was part of the Clean Air Act first introduced in 1963 and amended several times to better protect American citizens’ health and welfare. Two weeks ago Trump’s administration rolled back the Clean Power Plan’s emission regulations as part of their opening attack on the Clean Air Act.

Of course Trump and Republicans proffer a typical fossil fuel industry lie that environmental regulations are the death knell of economies, but research shows that is categorically false; Republicans know it has been false for decades.

The co-leader of the Lancet Commission, Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, pointed out that this particular study developed a completely separate analysis from an economic perspective to calculate the costs related to pollution. The researchers discovered something Republicans will deny despite reporting from economists assessing the economic impact of reducing pollution. Dr. Landrigan said:

Just look at the experience within our country showing a 70 percent decrease in pollution from 1970 to 2015 following passage of the Clean Air Act. In that same 45-year period, the GDP has increased by 250 percent.” Landrigan reiterated that the data contradicts conservative and fossil fuel advocates’ claims that environmental regulation stifles the economy.

Dr. Landrigan’s assertion was reinforced by the senior economist and director of the Center for Research and Policy in International Development at the RAND Corporation, Nicholas Burger. Mr. Burger was not involved in the study, but he agreed with the researchers’ results as well as their in-depth economic analysis; he said the numbers are right. He also contradicted Republican and fossil fuel industry supporters saying:

There’s pretty strong evidence that pollution control policy — pollution regulation — does not adversely affect growth as people often argue that it does or that we might tend to think that it does.” He added that other researchers believe pollution policy has not adversely harmed economic growth and in fact “enhanced growth.”

During the Clinton Administration environmental protections and regulations were strengthened and the economy grew significantly. Likewise, during the Obama Administration the economy grew phenomenally after a near economic collapse and Great Recession and several much-needed environmental regulations were enacted. Those regulations not only addressed climate change, they greatly reduced chemical-laden pollution from fossil fuel emissions and saved Americans’ lives.

Although this most recent report actually breaks down exactly what kind of pollution is leading to early deaths, and how many human beings are dying unnecessarily, the information has been well-known and publicized for a couple of decades, at least. That should inspire every administration, Republican or Democrat, to continue reducing pollution if for no other reason than to save American lives; it is precisely what was occurring during the Obama Administration. Trump has made it is personal raison d’être to undo every one of President Obama’s environmental protections out of spite, but more so out of his flagrant disregard for the lives of the American people; especially the young, marginalized and poor.

It is unclear how many additional tens-of-thousands of Americans will die an “early death” due to Trump’s anti-environment crusade, but it will be a significant number. For Trump and his fossil fuel cohorts, more Americans dying an early death, even if it is tens-of-thousands, is the price American people have to pay so the fossil fuel industry reaps greater profits.