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

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.

Trump’s America Is Exceptionally Isolated Against the World

Once upon a time America was an exceptional nation for myriad reasons in spite of its tendency toward imperialism and waging war, but that all drastically changed the day of Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration. It is true that America’s exceptionalism suffered during the Obama Administration, but it was due to Republican opposition to basic human and constitutional rights for American citizens; enough opposition that the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the United States several times for its mistreatment of the poor and minorities. Now, America can claim it is exceptional among all the world’s nations as the only country on Earth to oppose the global effort to combat climate change.

It was a big deal that a nation devastated by civil war signed on to the Paris Climate Accord this week because it appeared to be a barely functioning government. Still, Syria did what every other country on the planet, except America, did and joined the climate change battle likely because a fair amount of Syria’s woes are a direct result of global warming. Of course there is no part of America that hasn’t been adversely affected by anthropogenic climate change; a fact a recent “Climate Report” cited as a reason to take immediate action. But Trump and company refuse to accept the empirical data showing that it will take a concerted global effort to save the climate for future generations and in fact refuse to acknowledge that the climate is changing for the worse.

With Syria announcing at the COP23 climate summit that it was joining the global effort to combat climate change, Trump’s “America First” mantra means that America is alone, an outlier, and an anomaly among the “family of nations,” and not in a good way.

The Syrian announcement incited Sierra Club Executive Director Michal Brune to state:

As if it wasn’t already crystal clear, every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position.”

The World Resources Institute released a statement saying that with Syria on board, “the entire world is resolutely committed to advancing climate action – all save one country.This should make the Trump administration pause and reflect on their ill-advised announcement about withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.”

Not only is the Trump fossil fuel administration not “pausing or reflecting;” it is moving forward with what has to be the most ignorant, and humiliating, plan at the COP23 summit in Bonn Germany. The summit is intended to allow nearly 200 delegates from nations involved in the Paris Climate Accord to work out “exactly how best to implement the agreement and stop a future full of weather extremes” that are devastating populations and economies.

America will have competing delegations at the COP23 summit with opposing purposes. One “unofficial” delegation is comprised of governors, business groups, and corporate heads intent on ignoring Trump and working in concert with the rest of the world to combat the warming climate. The other delegation is the “official” representative of the Trump fossil fuel cabal and they are going to propose a climate change solution that flies in the face of science and the intent of the rest of the Earth’s leaders advancing the goals of the Paris agreement.

It is difficult to comprehend from any perspective, but the Trump delegation will argue vehemently to the world’s leaders that burning more coal is the only way to “solve climate change.” Remember, Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Secretary claim that not only is climate change a hoax, but that carbon emissions have no impact on the climate. Of course their assertion is contrary to the just-released congressional-mandated “Climate Report” that states categorically:

Based on extensive evidence, human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. There is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

In what will certainly set America apart from the rest of the planet as “exceptional,” it is reported that a Trump advisor representing “several members of the fossil fuel industry, including coal-giant Peabody Energy,” will stand up in front of the world’s representatives and “tout the benefits of burning coal” as a solution to global climate change. This will occur even as the rest of the world seeks ways to reduce emissions from coal-fired generating plants that are the primary source of carbon emissions driving global warming. As noted over at IFLScience, Trump‘s fossil fuel contingent will present a mountain of “alternative facts” as if they are addressing ignorant Fox News and Breitbart viewers.

As reported in BBC News, the rest of the world’s leaders at the CPO23 summit were already angry that while the rest of the civilized, and hardly civilized, world is meeting to conspire how best to stop carbon emissions, Trump’s “official” delegation is coming with “fake news” in hand to promote more coal, and more global warming emissions. The director of the International Institute for the Environment and Development, Andrew Norton, expressed the sentiments of the rest of the world at the news Trump was sending the coal industry to argue that burning more carbon emitting coal will solve climate change. He said:

Fossil fuels having any role in tackling climate change is beyond absurd. It is dangerous. These talks are not the place for pushing the fossil fuel agenda. The US needs to come back to the table and help with the rapid cuts in emissions that the situation demands.

A perennial participant in climate change talks, Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, weighed in and rightly expressed the real reason Trump even sent his fossil fuel contingent to argue that more carbon emissions will solve climate change. Mr. Meyer said:

It’s not a credible solution, but that doesn’t seem to bother them. They might even welcome some of the reaction to show to their base that they are fighting for America’s interest and not this globalist malarkey.”

Meyer is right, of course Trump and his coal cabal will play up the “us against the world” sentiment despite America is now an outlier and increasingly a bastard in the family of nations. It is also no part of nations that regard their populations’ health and well-being or accept mountains of empirical scientific data screaming that a concerted global effort is needed to prevent a global catastrophe.

American exceptionalism used to be something to be proud of, but that officially ended the day of Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration. To be exceptional as the only nation on Earth “institutionalizing climate change denial” as official government policy when every other nation on the planet is joining a global effort to combat climate change is humiliating and dangerous. Trump’s idea of America first means America is alone and isolated; now it is an honest-to-dog existential threat to the planet.

Pruitt’s Clean Power Repeal Means Death for Americans

Shortly after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, scientists at several federal agencies said they were told they can no longer speak to the media or use social media because the new administration rejects science – they claim it hurts Republicans’ fossil fuel donors.  Over at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), staffers were notified that going forward any scientific work would have to be reviewed by fossil fuel advocates appointed by Republican politicians to stop scientists’ attacks on the dirty energy industry.

Yesterday, the Republican whose prior claim to fame was thwarting the EPA by keeping the agency tied up in the courts ignored science the EPA depends on to protect Americans. In fact Scott Pruitt boasted often that he was “the leading advocate against the EPA,” but because he still doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally destroy the agency he runs, he used his position to repeal the agency’s Clean Power Plan to put a rapid end to the critical effort of reducing carbon emissions. Remember, the mission of the EPA is “protecting human health and the environment by issuing regulations and enforcing the nation’s environmental laws.” Scott Pruitt rejects the concept of protecting human health and the environment because he is a shill for the fossil fuel industry.

Pruitt went to Kentucky on Monday and proudly announced that as the man tasked with protecting the nation’s environment, he is unilaterally repealing the Clean Power Plan – because it was founded on science and created to protect the nation’s environment and not the Koch brothers’ wealth. The Clean Power Plan was also put in place to protect current and future Americans by aiding the effort to reduce the effects of anthropogenic climate change Trump says is a Chinese hoax. Trump claims the preponderance of atmospheric and oceanic scientists are lying about global warming because he saw snow falling someplace.

Pruitt’s action is just one of the reasons why the fossil fuel industry contributes millions to elect Republicans, and as expected their dirty investments are paying off.  The Koch brothers, in particular, have called for abolishing the EPA for well over 30 years and no doubt they are getting antsy to see the agency abolished. Now that they are co-owners of the government with the religious right, their prayers to the fossil fuel gods are being answered by a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical whose fealty to fossil fuels rivals his devotion to evangelical radicalism.

Pruitt claims his action will end the “war on coal” and the industry will explode. But as the industry has admitted often as of late, nothing Trump or Pruitt does will halt the “decline of coal” or create jobs that have been replaced by mechanization. Coal’s decline is also evident according to the explosion in green energy jobs and cheaper electrical generating costs as more utilities and states have shifted to cheaper and cleaner wind, natural gas, and solar to save money. Many states are going forward with targets set by the Clean Power Plan because of the health and cost benefits of not using dirty coal-fired electricity generating plants. Coal is responsible for “about one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions.”

Pruitt and Trump both lie profusely that their attacks on the EPA and advocacy for dirty fossil fuels is good for America and helps their crusade to protect the people and the environment. However, as former EPA head Gina McCarthy notes:

Pruitt’s proposal does nothing to protect public health and the natural resources we need to survive and thrive. It’s not smart or economically sound. It ignores the investment opportunities and health benefits of our country’s transition to cleaner energy. And it ignores climate change solutions that are plentiful, less expensive than traditional fossil fuels and producing jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

Colorado’s Governor, John Hickenlooper noted that his state is already surpassing their goals with jobs and a cleaner environment after “closing coal plants and developing wind and other renewables.” He added: “We have dramatically cleaner air and we are saving money. My question to [the Pruitt] E.P.A. would be ‘which part of that don’t you like?’”

This latest environmental abomination comes on the heels of the Department of Energy’s plan to subsidize (give taxpayer dollars) coal plants by “revamping (controlling) electricity markets.” Apparently Republicans do not really advocate for “free markets” if they intend on giving the coal industry taxpayers’ dollars the same way they do the dirty, and filthy rich, oil industry.

The director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, Jody Freeman, said that coupled with taxpayer-funded coal subsidies, repealing the Clean Power Plan is a glaring signal that Trump’s administration is  “putting its thumb on the scale in favor of fossil fuels.” Ms. Freeman added:

You see a pretty powerful message. Disavow any effort to control greenhouse gases in the power sector, and instead, intervene in the market to promote coal. It’s a wow!”

It is an expected “wow,” and an abomination for Americans concerned about the damage they see every day from the effects of climate change, or those enjoying cleaner air and water as well as lower electricity bills, or the explosion of well-paying jobs nationwide. According to the EPA’s assessment prior to being run by Pruitt, the Clean Power Plan would prevent about 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks every year. But Pruitt and Trump could not care less about those statistics; damn the effects of climate change, damn clean air and water, and god damn the American people’s health and welfare.

No matter the economic and health benefits of combatting climate change, Republicans are bound and determined to wipe out those benefits regardless of the adverse effects to the people’s health, climate, and America’s economic well-being. They are also gleefully wiping out any chance of saving the next few generations from the already occurring devastation of global warming because they owe the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry a world of favors. They know without the Kochs’ largesse Republicans would not control the government or the ability to negatively impact Americans’ lives; a goal looking more and more like the only reasons the Republican Party exists.

Republican Mayor Condemns Trump For Not Addressing Climate Change

 

It isn’t often that any American hears a Republican call for action to address climate change, but stunningly that is precisely what occurred this past weekend. There is an old proverb, attributed to both England and Ancient Rome that likely informs why a Florida Republican mayor called on Trump to get real about climate change. The proverb, “it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye” could just as well be “it’s all a Chinese or liberal hoax until millions of people in a hurricane’s path lose everything.”

Just as Hurricane Irma was beginning to wreak havoc on Florida, Miami’s Republican Mayor Tomás Regalado criticized President Donald Trump and his administration for refusing to acknowledge the connection between climate change and more intense and destructive storms. Mr. Regalado told the Miami Herald:

This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president Trump and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change. If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”

Regalado is right, of course. Just as climatologists and climate scientists have predicted for decades, the intensity and ferocity of weather events going forward will be monstrous and wreak damage never before seen. It is a sad fact of science that no matter what the industrialized nations of the Earth do to stop emitting carbon-related emissions into the atmosphere, the horrific effects of climate change will get increasingly worse, likely for decades, before there is any improvement or normalization of Earth’s climate. However, that long-term forecast of increased devastation is no reason not to take immediate steps for the future of mankind, and America’s security and safety.

Going back decades, scientists have warned incessantly that one of the effects of anthropogenic global climate change is a monumental increase in the intensity of hurricanes. Joe Romm detailed a few of the ways climate change “intensifies hurricanes” regarding the devastation in Texas as the result of Hurricane Harvey.  However, despite personally seeing what climate scientists have predicted come to pass exactly as described, a fair number of Republicans still claim “it’s a hoax,” or that the science is inconclusive; even as mainly Republican states have been decimated by historically-severe natural disasters caused by climate change.

Likely, many Americans errantly believed at some point even Republicans would comprehend that everything climate scientists predicted is coming true after witnessing it for themselves, but of course they were mistaken.

Trump and most of his administration reject, out of hand, the scientific unanimity on climate change, or that it has an “empowering” effect on the intensity of severe weather like the hurricanes ravaging the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. Trump and his underlings proved their concerted rejection of science immediately on taking office and launched a crusade to roll back and eliminate domestic and international climate policies.

Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) run by fossil fuel puppet Scott Pruitt  has repeatedly dismissed or distorted widely accepted climate science, as well as rejecting climate scientists’ efforts to connect Hurricane Harvey’s extreme impact to global warming. The Pruitt-led EPA’s spokeswoman, Liz Bowman, said that now is not the time to talk about climate change or attempt to connect the severity of the hurricanes to it. Bowman said:

EPA is focused on the safety of those affected by Hurricane Harvey and providing emergency response support — not engaging in attempts to politicize an ongoing tragedy.

Trump’s anti-environment EPA chief went farther and actually condemned anyone who dared discuss the cause of the horrific life-ending storms. He said that it is being insensitive to Floridians, but not Texans, to even consider discussing “the cause and effect of these storms … or to use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to the people in Florida.”

As Miami’s Republican mayor rightly asserted, “failing to address the underlying cause will doom major U.S. cities like Miami to keep repeating the same mistakes,” and leave Americans unprepared to cope with ever-worsening natural disasters.

Mr. Regalado knows what he’s talking about regarding “repeating the same mistakes.” South Florida is generally regarded as “ground zero” for the severest impacts of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. Regalado is particularly concerned about the increasing sea level rise and coastal flooding; especially after “decades of unchecked development.” As Bloomberg News’ Christopher Flavelle reported back in April, “Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun (sic) is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock. Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply.

That “lesser” effect of climate change, “rising sea levels and higher levels of tidal flooding” has nothing whatsoever to do with the hurricane damages, but it is causing the city of Miami to seek a $400 million “obligation bond.” That bond is crucial to aid the city in repairing and improving the storm drains and pumping system necessary to preserve the city’s water supply and keep seawater at bay. And it is noteworthy that “keeping it at bay” is only temporary until the sea level rises, as predicted, to the point when no amount of money, bonds, or pumps will keep the ocean from inundating the entire region.

There is no better time to talk about the cause of this most recent spate of historically-powerful hurricanes because right now there is a fair amount of focus on their damage in lives and property. One would think that Republicans would see the wisdom in addressing climate change if for no other reason than the outrageous amount of funding necessary in disaster relief. It is also curious why the insurance industry, certainly paying out billions and billions for damaged property, hasn’t yet planted their substantial boots on the Republicans’ throats for pretending nothing untoward is happening.

And it is worth noting to Trump’s anti-environment EPA people that discussing the causes of the monumental damage raging in the hurricanes’ wake is not “politicizing an ongoing tragedy,” or being “very insensitive to the victims.” It is an attempt to avert further tragedies. Until more Republicans follow the lead of Miami’s Republican mayor and berate Trump mercilessly, there are going to be further tragedies of epic proportions and inaction from Washington. And along with historically-severe hurricanes there will be more historical droughts, massive wildfires, melting glaciers, and in the near future the most fertile regions of the continent will face desertification.

Those effects, being witnessed now, are not a Chinese hoax or a liberal plot; they are real and as climate scientists at NASA, NOAA, and research universities around the world have predicted quite explicitly, those effects are only going to get worse. It is just tragic, and unfair, that Trump, Pruitt, the Koch brothers, and the rest of the “fact averse” ideologues will be dead and gone when climate change finally accomplishes what Republicans are busy attempting to do today; decimate America.

Trump’s Latest Threat To America’s Leadership

It may not be acknowledged by many Americans, but the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a critical federal government agency and one that demands its administrator be a “nonpartisan science-based executive.” Going into space, and studying the atmosphere is a scientific endeavor not suitable for an uninformed science denier, particularly one leading NASA.

Naturally, the idiot occupant of the White House has chosen a right-wing extremist and non-scientist to run the NASA because he embraces some positions that Trump admires in his underlings. One of those positions is opposition to science, particularly climate science, and it is one of the primary reasons Trump tapped Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to run NASA.

First, it is important to note that NASA is a huge part of the United States’ climate change research that has aided in proving climate change is as real as the Sun and moon; regardless what Trump or Bridenstine claim. In fact, the Defense Department considers climate change “so real” that they have designated it as a “major threat to national security.” It goes without saying that the DOD relies heavily on climate and atmospheric research conducted by NASA scientists to make a “major national security threat” designation.

Unlike every other NASA administrator before him, Bridenstine is considered an extremely partisan politician void of any scientific credentials whatsoever; and he has no experience in space science. For that reason alone, his choice by Trump was criticized by both Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D). Rubio said what the stunned scientific community said after Trump’s announcement:

I just think his nomination could be devastating for the space program.”

For a little additional background on Bridenstine, and the kind of “credentials” that incited Trump to tap him to run NASA, besides being an extremist member of the House Freedom Caucus (teabaggers), he opposes nearly every government program in existence and wants the IRS eliminated; no tax revenue means no government programs. He is also extremely anti-gay, vehemently opposes same-sex marriage, opposes a woman’s right to choose, says climate change is a hoax and opposes any kind of alternative energy sources. It is that background that appeals to Trump as much as his opposition to science.

It seems glaringly obvious that Trump appointed Bridenstine because he is a fellow climate denier to ensure that NASA steers clear of any atmospheric research related to climate change and the weather. He will likely justify choosing Bridenstine because he serves on the House science committee, but serving on a science committee does not make one a space scientist or an authority on much of anything. In fact, Bridenstine has spent as much time criticizing NASA’s research and well-established atmospheric measurements over decades as he has condemning the LGBT community and criticizing marriage equality.

To get an idea of how dangerous it is to have an ignorant climate denier running a federal agency based around science and research, in 2013, Bridenstine gave a speech on the House floor replete with all the typical “denier talking points.” He stated emphatically:

Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles.”

After that outrageous display of ignorance, he ended his “uninformed rant” by demanding that President Barack Obama apologize for funding any research into climate science.

Bridenstine’s remarks, like more than one of Trump’s anti-science underlings, contradict well-established science over decades of research around atmospheric and oceanic measurements; much of it coming from NASA’s own research.

In 2010, a NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) science brief summarized its recent research and explained:

A study by GISS  climate scientists recently published in the journal Science shows that atmospheric CO2 operates as a thermostat to control the temperature of Earth. There is no viable alternative to counteract global warming except through direct human effort to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level.”

NASA’s GISS conclusion in 2010 was reiterated in the upcoming 2018 National Climate Assessment. That scientific report concluded that:

Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change. Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”

Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. … The last few years have also seen record-breaking climate-related weather extremes, as well as the warmest years on record for the entire globe. There are no alternative explanations to human industrial activity being the cause and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”

Despite that sobering scientific assessment, much of conducted by NASA, Trump opted for a “scientifically illiterate” sycophant to run NASA – likely right into the dustbin.

John Holdren is an environmental scientist and former White House science advisor for the Office of Science and Technology for eight years. He confirmed what scientists and congressional representatives alike have warned about the danger a non-scientist and climate denier leading NASA poses:

Bridenstine’s stance on climate change reveals him to be a fact-averse, scientifically illiterate ideologue and a danger to NASA’s leadership in space science and Earth science alike.”

It is not just NASA’s leadership that is in jeopardy, everything about American “leadership” has been compromised by Trump and it is no accident that he appoints agency and department heads that hold a worldview contrary to the agencies they are bound and determined to “dismantle.” America under Trump is waning as an economic, trade, diplomatic and scientific research leader and there is plenty of blame to go around. It is important to note that it is not just Trump; Republicans are just as culpable as Trump for quietly acquiescing to his boneheaded style of administration.

Time will tell if they draw a line at a “scientifically illiterate ideologue” running NASA; likely the most science-dependent agency in the federal government.

Despite Trump’s Denial, Sea Level Rise is Drastically Accelerating

While the rest of the civilized world is frantically taking steps to staunch the existential threat to humanity due to global climate change, America is ignoring one of its most devastating effects that pose a very serious threat to both of its expansive coastlines. It is noteworthy that just one of the primary reasons the rest of the civilized world despises Donald J. Trump is due to his unilateral exit from the Paris Climate Accord; an exit he predicates on the 12th century belief that science is of Satan the Devil.  It doesn’t matter how advanced or developing the rest of the world’s nations are, they understand firsthand how crucial a concerted global effort is to at least slow global warming to save the people;  not the planet. Earth will always repair man’s damage, it just may take a couple of centuries according to scientists.

There was some incredibly bad news for the Earth’s population, especially those living in close proximity to coastal areas, this week that was generally ignored due to the Earth-shattering importance of Donald Trump’s social media activity. Apparently, the American media is well aware that people are too stupid to comprehend something as simple as sea level rise, so they hew closely to bombastic clickbait stories that sell ad space – like Trump’s tweets.

According to a new study in Nature Climate Change, “global sea level rise jumped 50 percent” over the past  15 years; the most recent period that data are available. The study revealed that the alarming and unprecedented melting of Greenland ice sheets is one of the “major new contributors” to sea level rise. In the late 1990s it only accounted for less than 5 percent of sea level rise, but in 2014 it was responsible for well over a quarter of the increase.

If that isn’t bad enough news for the hundreds-of-millions of human beings living in coastal areas, scientists that have been monitoring an enormous iceberg nearly the size of Delaware reported this week it “is poised to detach from one of the largest floating ice shelves in Antarctica and float off into the sea.”

Scientists, including the atmospheric and oceanic professionals under attack by the Trump administration, used satellite measurements and tidal gauges to provide an accurate measure of the impending disaster for the Earth. And it is noteworthy to mention that no part of the Earth has seen the “particularly intense acceleration of sea level rise” more than the United States’ Eastern seaboard.

The study noted that this is particularly dangerous for Virginia and North Carolina where measurements revealed the sea is rising  in those areas “three times more quickly that the worldwide average.” The rise along the East Coast is not all down to melting ice sheets and icebergs though, although it does account for over a quarter of the damage.

Some other contributors are “sinking land masses due to an increase in ground water removal” as a result of severe drought conditions brought on by global climate change and water theft by the fossil fuel industry and big agriculture; both industries that support Republican opposition to battling climate change.

Not that stupid Americans would understand the complexities of ocean currents or how they contribute to weather patterns, climate change and increasingly severe weather events, oceanographers reported that the “water level is higher in those areas than elsewhere.” The scientists also noted that the additional freshwater pouring into the North Atlantic from that Greenland ice melt is “accelerating that dynamic” affecting America’s East Coast. It is worth noting that the East Coast, especially around Virginia and North Carolina, is home to a substantial Naval presence and major shipping ports spanning the entire Eastern seaboard.

A professor of oceanography at Old Dominion University who did not take part in the study or any part of the reporting, Larry Atkinson explained:

This new evidence of accelerating rates is concerning to us as we try to advise local cities and regions on what they’re going to have deal with.”

Although most Americans are ignorant of rudimentary physics, it is worth noting that the greatest factor driving the dangerous rise in sea level is “thermal expansion.” What thermal expansion means in simple terms is that matter at the molecular level changes shape, area, and volume in response to temperature change.   What that means for sea level rise is that as the oceans warm, the sea water takes up more space (expands).

According to “the Fifth Assessment Report” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that “thermal expansion” of sea water “accounts for up to 55 percent of the global sea level rise.” The melting glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica account for up to 35 percent of sea level rise and like expanding oceans, those rapid melting ice sheets are only due to “the Earth’s higher land and water temperatures resulting from anthropogenic climate change.

Regardless what dumb Don Trump says, global climate change is real and it is a result of man pouring greenhouse gases, like methane and carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Americans living in the proximity of coastal areas can rest assured that when they are forced to relocate due to rising seas that America is as responsible, if not more so, than other industrial nations, except maybe China. However, at least China is moving forward to combat climate change while America with a corrupt clown in the White House pretends it is a joke.

Image: TheInsider

 

Rick Perry Proves He’s Stupider Than a Seventh Grader

It is too bad that there are a significant number of Americans who are stupider than dirt and lack an amoeba’s cognitive ability, or worse wasted taxpayer’s money during their primary school education. One thing every seventh grade student learned in science class is that carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas” responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere; a fundamental fact only a complete idiot would dispute or contradict. Enter a complete idiot the moron in the Oval Office tapped to lead the Energy Department, former Texas governor Rick Perry, who disputed and contradicted a well-established and scientifically measured fact on national television.

Perry, as U.S. Secretary of Energy, was appearing on CNBC News recently and not only displayed less intelligence than a single-called zygote, he “made bizarre statements disputing the underlying foundations of physics and chemistry;” and the fundamentals of climate science. Perry may not be the stupidest of the Trump cabal, but he did his level best to claim that humiliating distinction. Perry was given an easy question any seventh grade student could have answered correctly and promptly revealed why he has no right being in government much less running the Energy Department.

The interviewer asked Perry whether carbon dioxide is primarily responsible for climate change to which he confidently replied:

No. Most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

That response must be a standard line for the oil industry whores in the Trump administration because it is precisely what the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, says often; recently on national television like Perry.

Now, it doesn’t matter whether or not Pruitt, Perry or Trump’s entire idiotic administration disputes the reality of climate change; any greenhouse gas is classified as such for a very good and scientifically proven reason; they trap heat in the atmosphere and trapped heat warms the climate. And, carbon dioxide traps heat very effectively and as noted in IFLScience; “carbon dioxide has a lifetime in the atmosphere of up to 200 years and is unequivocally the primary driver of climate change.”

To address Perry’s remark about the oceans, it is true the world’s oceans are “carbon sinks” and have absorbed so much carbon dioxide that they stopped the Earth’s warming over the past century significantly. But their ability to absorb carbon dioxide is dependent on “not dead” marine life, and cannot physically or possibly absorb all the CO2 being released into the atmosphere; particularly the CO2 from burning fossil fuels. No matter what Perry says, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that man is pouring into the atmosphere and trapping heat, warming the oceans, and creating climate change that drives the severe weather events wreaking havoc on the Earth’s population.

This remark by Perry and Pruitt, a couple of bible-thumpers who believe fairy tales, is beyond reprehensible. Still, because Americans put an idiot moron in the White House, an idiot moron is running the Department of Energy; a position he is as unqualified for as Pruitt is to run the EPA. Remember, Perry at one time wanted to abolish the DoE and had no idea what the Cabinet level job entailed until after he was confirmed.

Perry is also a piece of work for changing his tune on climate action after being appointed to run the DoE. Prior to landing the gig at the DoE, Perry actually hoped, out loud no less, that Trump wouldn’t exit the Paris Climate Agreement. Now Perry has shut down the DoE’s climate change office and became a staunch “evangelist for climate denial.” He also banned any mention of the terms “climate change” and “Paris Agreement” under any circumstances at the Energy Department and rumors are that if Perry should happen to overhear either phrase uttered, he “will have a visceral reaction.

It is apparent that the Trump administration has issued orders to propagandize the American people into believing that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas and has no impact on hastening the warming climate. It is the only explanation why Rick Perry would make such an easily debunked claim on “live national television.” As Robin Andrews noted at IFLScience, Rick Perry may not be as idiotic as the Pennsylvania state senator who claimedhuman body heat” is driving climate change,  but he is very close. Sadly for America, the population is just stupid enough that if the Trump team continues saying something loud and often enough, it doesn’t matter how absurd the claims, people will believe it – unless they successfully completed the seventh grade.

 

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.

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.