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.

Climate Report Release Is A Trump F*ck You to the World

A few months ago there was an “exhaustive scientific report” about the state of the climate allegedly leaked to the media to prevent the Trump administration from burying it because it contradicted his assertion that climate change is a Chinese hoax to hurt America. On Friday, the White House actually approved the report mandated by Congress for release and it literally destroys everything Trump and EPA chief Scott Pruitt claim about global warming; specifically that humans have no impact on the climate.

According to “several White House officials,” Trump was “hardly aware of the report’s existence” and it was left to Trump’s National Economic Council director, Gary D. Cohn, to approve the report for release. Cohn was concerned that blocking the report’s release would create a firestorm and might be a distraction from the GOP’s crusade to explode the deficit, rape the poor and infirm, and hand over the treasury to the rich and corporations; what Republicans are calling “tax reform.”

The report was conducted by 13 federal agencies and concluded “humans are the dominant cause of global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization.” Trump claims those agencies and the scientists responsible for the report are lying because he saw it snowing on television. Although the “official” stance of the White House resisted calling the report part of the notorious “Chinese hoax,” or that there is snow falling someplace on the planet, it did put out a statement undercutting the “high level of confidence” the 13 federal agencies and hundreds of scientists’ had based on mountains of empirical evidence.

A White House spokesman, Rah Shah, issued a statement saying:

The climate has changed and is always changing. As the Climate Science Special Report states, the magnitude of future climate change depends significantly on ‘remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate’ to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mr. Shah must be hewing closely to the White House requirement for employment that bald-faced lying is official policy.  There was no “uncertainty” in the scientists’ minds and in fact, they stated that human activity related to “greenhouse gas emissions” are the only reason for the “record-breaking weather events and temperature extremes.”

In fact, the report states “unambiguously” that “there is no alternative explanation that anything other than humans – the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, and the forests we destroy are to blame. Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change.”

However, there is a 14th Century anti-science religious administration certain that there is no such thing as “scientific consensus on the anthropogenic climate change in the report.” It is why the Scott Pruitt-run Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still banning the few scientists still with the agency from “presenting any scientific reports on the climate.” Pruitt is also still erasing any and all references to climate change from the EPA website.  The EPA administrator, evangelical Scott Pruitt, still preaches that carbon dioxide emission are not now and never have contributed to global climate change, and Energy Department secretary Rick Perry argued vehemently on Wednesday past that “the science is out” on whether human beings cause climate change.

The hundreds of scientists at the 13 federal agencies compiling the empirical data that human activity is the only cause of the warming climate disagree with Trump’s fossil fuel funded puppets. A professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, Michael E. Mann disputes everything Trump’s anti-science cohorts claim saying:

This new report simply confirms what we already knew. Human-caused climate change isn’t just a theory, it’s reality. Whether we’re talking about unprecedented heat waves, increasingly destructive hurricanes, epic drought and inundation of our coastal cities, the impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. They are upon us. That’s the consensus of our best scientists, as laid bare by this latest report.

It is noteworthy that “this latest report” reveals that:

Every part of the United States has been touched by warming, from droughts in the Southeast to flooding in the Midwest to a worrying rise in air and ground temperatures in Alaska; and conditions will continue to worsen. The frequency and intensity of extreme high temperature events are virtually certain to increase in the future as global temperature increases. Extreme precipitation events will continue to increase in frequency and intensity throughout most of the world.”

The effects of global warming has already been “bad enough” that climate change-related severe weather events had already cost the United States over $1.1 trillion at the time the multi-year report was compiled. And that is noteworthy because the report was still being prepared for publishing a year before the recent spate of severe hurricanes, massive flooding, and horrific wildfires in America. There is no “confusion” or “debate” among sane human beings that climate change is a clear present and future danger or that man is not responsible.

The hundreds of scientists responsible for the report belabor the point saying:

This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

It is unclear where in the report Trump’s people found any ambiguity or uncertainty, especially in light of the recent weather events climatologists have warned about for decades have developed precisely as predicted. No reasonably intelligent American should be confused about what it means that someone in Trump’s immediate circle “allowed” the report mandated by the United States Congress to be released. They have no intention of heeding the dire warnings no matter the danger to the national security, economy, the population’s health or the environment. Maybe if Trump and the GOP donor class profited from addressing climate change, there would be a concerted effort to join the rest of the world’s effort on the climate.

America under Trump, and Republicans particularly, is losing whatever leadership role it had in the world and this archaic and vehement opposition to science is allowing other nations, especially China and the European Union, to be the dominant economic and technological leaders going forward. In remarking on Trump’s climate denial idiocy, the director of Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Christopher Field said:

This profoundly affects our ability to be leaders in developing new technologies and understanding how to build successful communities and businesses in the 21st Century. Choosing to be dumb about our relationship with the natural world is choosing to be behind the eight ball.”

America chose to be dumb when it allowed a corrupt imbecile and Republican barbarians with their religious racist supporters to run the country right into the ground. This country’s ability to be leaders in anything suffered a fatal blow with Trump’s ascendancy and the proof is that despite a major multi-agency scientific report contradicting everything his environmental policies are based on; Trump still says there is no climate change because it’s snowing someplace on Earth.

In allowing the report’s release and still refusing to acknowledge the reality of climate change Trump is giving a big “fuck you” to national security, scientific research, America’s global leadership, and the health and welfare of the American people; exactly as he’s done since the day of his poorly-attended inauguration.

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.

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.

Scott Pruitt Eliminates Scientific Integrity At the EPA

Any American with the slightest knowledge of history is likely aware that without science, the world’s population would still be living in literal dark ages. The primary reason there was an honest-to-dog Dark Age was the result of the Catholic Church’s unrelenting and vicious attack on science and its practitioners the church portrayed as agents of Satan the Devil.

Now that it’s the 21st Century and America has been the world’s leader in scientific research leading to astonishing technological development for at least a century, this nation is devolving into a dark time. In fact, America under an anti-science demigod is on a path to return to the 1600s when Galileo Galilei was imprisoned by the Catholic Church for embracing science and rejecting the Church’s anti-science orthodoxy.

Under the new evangelical-driven Trump administration, America is ruled by an anti-science “church” owned and operated by the oil industry. The administration is also staffed with evangelical fanatics intent on crushing what they consider heretics for embracing science and empirical data and rejecting oil industry tenets that’s driving the purge of scientist from the government.

This week, the Jesus-freak Trump appointed to run the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, leveled yet another Trump attack on the “integrity of the science” used by the government. It is tantamount to the 17th Century Catholic Church’s barbaric assault on science it regarded as “of the Devil.

The latest assault on science was the announcement that the EPA dismissed “nearly” all the members of its Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC). The “board” is responsible for reviewing and advising the EPA’s internal research departments on how best to use scientific methodology to make accurate reports founded on real empirical data.  Trump’s EPA intends to use “fake facts” provided by the oil industry coupled with biblical mythos embraced by conservatives convinced that scientific research and scientists are of the Devil.

The BOSC was already grossly understaffed, and besides dismissing the few “board members” still on the job, by August the “Board” will be “scientifically decommissioned” for all intents and purposes. Last week the acting head of the EPA office of Research and Development, Robert Kaylock, issued an email saying “that [the remaining] board members whose three-year appointments expire next month will not be renewed.” There may be a BOSC left in place, but it will not be staffed by scientists when there are plenty of oil industry sycophants at the ready to “transform” the EPA to help the Koch brothers.

Trump’s EPA head Scott Pruitt doesn’t need legitimate scientists at the EPA because he is a renowned oil industry climate denier with an aversion to empirical data and science, like his boss dumb Donnie Trump. Pruitt believes that the only people the EPA need directing scientific methodology and research are “the right kind of people who know how badly EPA regulations are for  the regulated community.” That is oil-whore code for putting the oil industry in control of the EPA’s scientific research; not unlike Trump putting an oil industry slut in charge of the EPA.

The only reason Pruitt and Trump will not completely eliminate all “scientific research” from the EPA is because they can use “oil industry” propaganda disguised as “scientific research and science” as justification to eliminate environmental regulations according to the Koch doctrine. The maneuver is not unlike Trump putting a pharmaceutical industry employee in charge of  the Federal Drug Administration, or Wall Street bankruptcy liquidation experts in charge of the Treasury and Commerce Departments.

The Trump administration attack on science is government wide and not just targeting the EPA.  Besides putting more American lives at risk on myriad levels, it is allowing the rest of the world to advance technologically while America devolves into the dark age. The days of American ingenuity and devotion to scientific research and technological development took a death blow with Trump’s ascension into the Oval Office, and his appointment of anti-science fanatics government wide portend a bad end for America.

At the pace that the rest of the world is investing in scientific research and advancing technologically, not only is America not a world leader any longer, it is on the verge of becoming insignificant. And without scientific research at the EPA, it is going to become environmentally dirty and hazardous to Americans’ health.

Court Rules Trump Violated the Law In Approving Dakota Pipeline

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

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

The Federal Judge wrote, in part:

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

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

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

An attorney for Earthjustice, Jan Hasselman commented thus:

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

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

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

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

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

The Standing Rock lawsuit centered around three primary areas.

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

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

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

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

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

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