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 Dissolves Crucial Climate Panel In Latest Assault on Science

 

 

One of the missions of not-really-departed White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was “dismantling the administrative state;” code for taking apart the government that Trump’s special interests will not tolerate. The Trump administration has been busy issuing executive orders eradicating any part of government their special interests oppose, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the special interests directing Trump’s cabinet are the Koch brothers and big oil. Remember, Trump did not personally vet or select any of his cabinet appointees. That task was assigned to the Heritage Foundation as surrogates for the Kochs who have wanted the federal government “dismantled” since the 1980s, Now they have a rubber stamp in the Oval Office and their Big Oil cohorts have unlimited funds and influence over Trump.

It is no surprise that reports indicate that Trump and his anti-environment Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt “are taking directions from Big Oil.” It is why the agency is purging scientists and actively eliminating regulations and environmental protections that even remotely impact the fossil fuel industry, not just big oil.

By now, only a moron is unaware that despite overwhelming scientific data and decades of research to the contrary, the fossil fuel industry denies climate change exists, or that manmade emissions cause and are exacerbating the condition. Trump claims the whole climate change ‘thing’ is a Chinese hoax. He has also claimed over 50 times that climate change has been thoroughly debunked because there is cold weather someplace on Earth, and he’s seen it.

Over the weekend, the Trump administration, in its devoted service to Big Oil, took another step toward dismantling the administrative state by dissolving a critical, congressionally-mandated, agency because its climate assessment didn’t comport with Trump’s climate denial.

Less than two weeks ago the draft version of the 2018 scientific section of the National Climate Assessment was leaked out of a real fear the Trump and his EPA head would attempt to bury it. Now the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment members will not have to worry about their report being buried; Trump disbanded the “committee.”

The committee’s purpose in the upcoming 2018 report was translating the findings of 13 different federal agencies, over three decades of climate data, and studies conducted by tens-of-thousands of the world’s scientists into the effects of carbon emissions on the warming climate. Those findings were intended to be used to aid policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the federal government’s climate analysis into their long-term infrastructure planning for a broad range of projects from building roads and bridges to maintaining adequate hydroelectric supplies.

Now those public and private officials will have to look elsewhere for guidance because Trump doesn’t believe the National Climate Assessment’s 2018 conclusion that,

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.”

According to the passage of the 1990 law calling for the National Climate Assessment, the “committee’s report” is supposed to be issued on a quadrennial basis, but it has only been released three times since the law was passed. The 2018 version was certain to be a “contentious issue” based on the Trump administration’s animosity toward anything related to science, but especially so because it is climate science.

It is not clear if the already released “draft” will be punished in a finalized form, but there is already nervous concern among officials about the fate of the report at the news the committee is disbanded. However, the communications director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Julie Roberts, said on Saturday that “this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority.

The chair of the 15-member “committee,” Richard Moss, said during an interview on Saturday that ending the group’s work was shortsighted. Moss is a professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences and warned of consequences for the decisions state and local authorities tasked with making planning decisions. Mr. Moss said:

It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action. We’re going to be running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation’s economic prospects.”

Seattle’s mayor Ed Murray said that the move to dissolve the committee represents “an example of the president not leading, and the president stepping away from reality.” Murray shared that from a public utilities standpoint, it is going to be “more difficult” for cities to participate in the climate assessment. On climate change, Trump “has left us all individually to figure it out.

The past chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Adaptation to a Changing Climate, Richard Wright, has been busy “working with the committee to convey the importance of detailed climate projections” in the 2018 assessment. The Civil Engineers’ society is the agency that establishes “guidelines that form the basis of building codes across the country,” and those guidelines are founded on a historical record that may no longer be an accurate predictor of future weather extremes due to the rapid change in Earth’s climate. Mr. Wright said:

We need to work on updating our standards with good estimates on what future weather and climate extremes will be. I think it’s going to be a serious handicap for us that the advisory committee is not functional.

This latest “dismantling” at Trump’s hands is more than just an assault on science or taking apart the government, although it is certainly both of those. And it is much more than just Trump “stepping away from reality or not leading.” It is a well-planned and well-funded effort by Republicans’ special interest donors that will have deleterious effects on the nation, the economy, and the American people for generations. And while it may not be the immediate existential threat of a thermonuclear war, it is a threat that scientists have been warning was coming for several decades. Sadly, now that the the world, and Americans, are seeing and feeling the changing climate’s effects and calling on the government to take action, Trump is going in the opposite direction and disbanded the one agency that may have prevented the worst effects of an impending disaster.

Climate Report Leaked To Prevent Trump From Smothering It

Once upon a time before America was ruled by a superstitious religious cabal reminiscent of 13th Century church attacking purveyors of science, the United States Congress mandated that a National Climate Assessment would be conducted every four years. On Monday last, the New York Times published a copy of the ‘special science section’ of 2018’s draft version of the comprehensive study. The Times felt, as did the scientists who conducted the study, that it was crucial to publish the “leaked copy” of the report because they and the scientists feared the Trump administration and EPA chief Scott Pruitt would “smother it in its crib.

The congressionally-mandated study was conducted by 13 federal government agencies that concluded no matter what dumb Donald or his anti-science EPA director claim, global warming “has had a verifiable impact on the environment.” And, being good scientists, the researchers referenced thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists over 30-plus years that documented climate change on land and in the air. The scientists wrote:

Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change.”

The scientists also noted that this is not some kind of future problem. Americans, like the rest of the Earth’s population, are feeling the devastating effects of global climate change right now. The report states:

Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”

The lengthy scientific report makes an oft-heard conclusion that even if human beings immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the Earth would still face increased temperatures over the next century. Every 8th grade student learns in junior high school science class that greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane remain in the atmosphere for decades and can take 200 years to eventually dissolve in the oceans. Those eighth-graders also learn that a even a minor global temperature increase as small as .30 degrees Celsius has a monumental effect on the climate that affects the weather. It is noteworthy too that those same 8th graders learn the difference between climate and weather. Unfortunately, the current administration is not nearly as smart as an eighth grader.

As Gizmodo reported, the draft report reflects federal government scientists’ “unshaken and continued belief” that human industrial activity is the primary driver of climate change. Trump is unimpressed with the scientists’ conclusions and still regards the idea of climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China; his proof is that there is cold winter weather and snow, and he’s seen it with his own eyes.

The superstitious Trump has claimed, at least 53 times, that literally thousands of climate scientists conducting decades of research and studies are dead wrong because if there is cold weather anyplace on Earth, then the preponderance of climate science research and study results are automatically “debunked.”

EPA anti-science moron Pruitt believes that human-caused CO2 emissions have had no impact on climate change. It was the two idiots’ opposition to scientific facts that prompted some patriotic scientist to leak the results of the study to the Times. And, it is noteworthy that the NYT sent out a “breaking news” alert directly after reviewing study’s results saying it was “an alarming draft report” on climate change that federal scientists feared would be instantly suppressed by the Trump administration.

The executive summary of the comprehensive report is more alarming than the Times let on and it informs why it was “leaked” to prevent it being buried by the anti-science Trump cabal. It is a blunt pronouncement that Trump or his science-denying EPA chief do not want released to the public because the American people have seen for themselves exactly what the scientists have been, and are currently, warning is the result of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. The summary says:

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.”

Thus far, neither the Trump nor his science-denying EPA director have commented on the release of the report they certainly intended to conceal from the public. However, there is little doubt they will go to great lengths to keep it as far away from the people as possible and begin anew a dastardly crusade to demonize science and scientists as disreputable and un-American.

For this author and anyone concerned about the fate of the future for Earth’s population, whichever scientist(s) did expose the document should be hailed as heroic and their identity kept a carefully guarded secret; especially with a vindictive piece of anti-science work in the White House doing his best to imitate the 14th Century church and punish purveyors of science.

 

Federal Appeals Court Orders Trump’s EPA to Do Its Job

There is no doubt that when Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, avowed environmental protection enemy, to run the EPA, he expected the fossil fuel acolyte to put an immediate end to regulations targeting big oil; likely because those regulations protect Americans’ air and water. Pruitt did as expected and suspended various EPA regulations and restrictions including an important provision of the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) regulating dangerous and toxic greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Late Monday a federal appeals court issued a ruling against Pruitt’s EPA and ordered it to start enforcing restrictions on dangerous methane gas emissions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit formally vacated the agency’s 90-day stay of the NSPS because that “key [methane rule] provision” is the law; and despite what Pruitt or the oil industry claims, the rule “is in effect.”

The Court said the “leak detection and repair provisions” of the NSPS law were supposed to take effect  and “begin delivering significant benefits” on June 3. But two days after the law went into effect, the court said “the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unlawfully stayed these and other requirements of the rule retroactively from June 2 until August 31, 2017.” Pruitt did not have the authority to take that action and according to the court: “Pruitt and his industry allies have not offered any support for their proposition that complying with the law would cause significant hardship to the entities that had a year’s lead time to prepare.”

What the court did say, however, was that by ordering the stay of the rule, Pruitt’s EPA “is causing substantial additional methane, ozone-forming [volatile organic compounds], and hazardous air pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde to be released into the air of communities near these wells.” It is telling that 9 of 11 judges on the appellate panel had to tell the agency tasked with protecting Americans from dangerous toxins and pollutants to do its job, protect Americans from dangerous toxins and pollutants, and stop helping the oil and gas industry pour more toxic material into the atmosphere. It is also noteworthy that a federal appeals court had to waste its time to tell the corrupt Trump administration that no matter what it believes, it still “must enforce federal environmental protection rules.”

An environmental advocacy group, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) issued a statement late Monday saying:

Administrator Pruitt tried to impose a 90-day suspension of the vital clean air standards without public input and without analysis of the public health or environmental consequences.

Pruitt actually intended on delaying implementation of the clean air and water rule for much longer than the 90 days it says the oil and gas industry needed to figure out how badly it would hurt profits. Pruitt proposed an additional two-year delay for implementation of the rule because the EPA needed extra time to discover what negative impacts it would have on the poor oil and gas industry. During that two-year delay, Pruitt said the oil and gas industry could just ignore the rule and continue poisoning the nation’s air and water.

To really get an idea of just how much contempt the Trump administration, and Pruitt specifically, have for the health and safety of the American people, the Environmental Defense Fund said Pruitt knew that any delay whatsoever would negatively impact Americans’ health.

The EDF noted that when the EPA announced it was delaying the rule’s implementation for two years, it acknowledged that it would make children in and around oil and gas drilling sites sick. But Pruitt argued “that more illness for only two years is acceptable” if it helps the oil and gas industry prosper.

It wasn’t acceptable to “people who showed up at EPA headquarters” early in July to protest the EPA’s intention to delay implementation of the “methane rule.”  But the new rule did more than just restrict methane emissions and it is noteworthy that it only affects new drilling operations or those under repair.

As the director of environment and health for “Physicians for Social Responsibility,” Barbara Gottlieb noted, sealing leaks and capturing methane at oil and gas wells would capture “all the toxic and hazardous air pollutants” inherent in oil and gas drilling operations;” not just methane. Ms. Gottlieb said that the implementing the rule would capture “volatile organic” compounds that “cause severe health issues for people” living near oil industry operations. “If you seal the leaks and capture the escaping gases, you get it all.

For Americans living in close proximity to oil and gas operations the Appeals court made the right decision they thought was the purview of the federal agency created and tasked with protecting Americans’ health and well-being. That concept of protecting the health of the people is an abomination to Trump’s anti-environmental protection crusader Scott Pruitt or he would not have put a halt to the EPA rule’s implementation.

It is astonishing that this is not the first time that the federal Judiciary has had to step in and order the federal government under Trump to enforce federal laws created to protect all Americans. What the court did not say in this instance was that Pruitt’s job as head of the EPA was not to protect the profits of the fossil fuel industry – the only reason he is running the EPA.

Trump Imperils a Third of the Population’s Clean Drinking Water

By now only someone in a coma is unaware that Republicans will go to great lengths to sate the greed of the fossil fuel industry no matter how detrimental their actions are to human life. As most Americans learned by the sixth grade, the primary component in a human body is water; anywhere from 60 to 75 percent depending on a person’s age. That being the case, it is safe to assume most people comprehend that access to clean drinking water is more than a basic human right, it is fundamental to life. Obviously, not everyone agrees with fundamental biology or has any regard for human life; that is particularly true of America’s “pro-life” Republicans.

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly “Explicitly recognized the fundamental human right to safe water and sanitation, and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.”

Republicans, led by the Koch brothers and Donald Trump, completely disagree with the U.N. General Assembly and are continuing the fossil fuel attack on Americans’ “fundamental human right” to clean water; an attack they began early in the new legislative year with a new heartless White House occupant. However, that “first strike” attack only affected areas in and around coal mining regions, so the Trump is expanding the attack on clean drinking water to affect a greater number of Americans; a little over one-in-three Americans.

In early February, Trump signed a law allowing the fossil fuel (primarily coal) industry to dump toxic waste and chemicals into Americans’ clean water supplies. This is in spite of Trump’s campaign pledge to his supporters that “Americans need crystal clear and clean drinking water.” As Jenifer Collins of Earthjustice said at the time:

It is shameful that one of the first bills President Trump signs into law is an attack on clean water protections for communities facing the harmful health and environmental impacts of coal mining operations like mountaintop removal mining. The President said Americans need ‘crystal clear and clean water.’ If he really meant that, he would have vetoed this legislation.”

Of course Trump didn’t mean it – he is a pathological liar. And he will say “I never promised to protect Americans’ crystal clear and clean drinking water, I just said they need it.” Apparently the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry needs the authority to pour toxic waste into “crystal clear and clean drinking water” without legal repercussions or punitive damages that Trump and Republicans were happy to provide.

Another advocate for Americans’ access to clean drinking water, Natalie Thompson, representing the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition said:

Voting to overturn the Stream Protection Rule in its entirety with no consideration for the health of our citizens and our ecosystems is completely irresponsible. The people in these coal communities will pay the price by being forced to purchase potable water that they cannot afford or by combating cancer, birth defects, and other invasions of human health by way of toxic water.”

As an aside for Ms. Thompson to ponder; If those people in those coal communities are unable to afford purchasing potable water, they aren’t going to be able to purchase healthcare insurance to battle cancer, birth defects or other human health issues. And, if they are that economically disadvantaged they will just have to die along with any Medicaid or Medicare coverage Trump and Republicans are eliminating to “sate the greed of the rich.”

Now, Trump and his fossil fuel industry EPA director, Scott Pruitt, are readying a vicious attack on the rest of the nation’s “crystal clear and clean water” that will affect a little over a third of the population’s “fundamental human right” to clean water.

Trump’s barbaric administration officially began repealing the “Clean Water Rule” late last week with a solemn pledge to completely “rescind and rewrite the regulation.” Trump’s fossil fuel employee Scott Pruitt will task industry lobbyists to “rewrite the regulation” to conform to the February law allowing the fossil fuel producers, manufacturers, and agribusiness  to legally dump toxic waste into about two million miles of rivers and streams and 20 million acres of wetlands.

To get an idea of how dastardly this Trump cabal really is, the “official repeal proposal” appeared on the same day EPA Administrator and ardent “pro-life” evangelical Scott Pruitt testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee that with a fossil fuel advocate like him at the helm, “the EPA would focus on its core mission of ‘protecting clean air and water’ for the American people.”

Pruitt said in a press statement:

We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses. This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”

Republicans, and particularly the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel cohort, complained bitterly in 2015 when President Obama tasked the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers with following an order from the United States Supreme Court to designate “waters of the U.S” that required protection from toxic dumping; solely because they provide “crystal clear and clean drinking water” to over a third of the population.

In February, at about the same time he signed a law authorizing the fossil fuel industry to dump toxic waste into rivers and streams that provide clean water, Trump issued an executive order directing the EPA to “review and reconsider” the Clean Water Rule it previously devised in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers. Trump specifically ordered the EPA to give “special attention and consideration” to how the agency defined “navigable waters.” One can only imagine that “navigable waters” will be reserved for the oceans in and around the United States so the fossil fuel, manufacturing, chemical, and agricultural industry can dump toxic waste into the clean waters anywhere within the continental United States.

There really isn’t much to say about the party in power, or its corrupt leader, that is printable for polite company, but that it takes a special kind of evil to pass laws, issue executive orders and rescind protections just to “sate the greed of the fossil fuel industry.” It was beyond comprehension that Congress and Trump would enact a law allowing the fossil fuel industry to dump toxic waste in and around mining and oil operations, but endangering a third of the population’s “crystal clear and clean water” is beyond comprehension. Sadly, there is nothing whatsoever anyone can do to stop this vicious attack on a “fundamental human right,” but there are environmental groups pledging to continue the fight for “human rights.” The executive director of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune said in a statement:

“It goes without saying that the Trump administration doesn’t care about the environment, public health, or its duty to protect our most precious natural resources — and that is why it’s up to us, the American people, to hold them accountable. We will fight this and every other attempt by polluters and the Trump administration to destroy our water resources.”

The Trump administration is out to destroy, or steal, all of America’s resources for his and Republicans’ masters the Koch brothers, and the people can attempt to fight, and resist, their efforts, but they are impotent. That’s what happens when stupid Americans install a government committed to the general welfare of the rich, corporations and fossil fuel industry instead of the American people. First they came for your healthcare, then your schools, then your freedoms and now they’re coming for your most fundamental human right; “crystal clear and clean water.”

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Budget Reveals How the Kochs Will Dismantle the Government

This author has warned, for at least six years, that if Republicans ever gained control of the entire government, that at the behest of their corporate masters the Koch brothers they would begin immediately dismantling the federal government. Trump’s number one counselor, fascist Stephen Bannon, said as much earlier this year when he bragged that the administration’s chief goal in appointing corporate billionaires, perjurers, and religious freaks to Trump’s cabinet, freaks and billionaires nominated by the teabagger-run Heritage Foundation, was to “dismantle the administrative state.” The administrative state is a not-so-subtle code for the United States government.

In Trump’s “proposed” budget for the next fiscal year, a so-called “skinny budget” the Heritage Foundation proposed a month ago, does exactly what the preponderance of Republicans indebted to the Koch brothers support; begin the dismantling of the federal government to satisfy a dream the Koch brothers championed over 30 years ago. Trump’s cohorts didn’t even attempt to hide the fact that the budget came directly from Heritage Foundation and the Kochs because they gave it the same exact name, the skinny budget, as the Heritage Foundation’s proposal last month.

The New York Times reported that Trump will unveil an even “skinnier” budget later in the spring that includes the Koch-Heritage plan to give massive tax cuts to the rich and corporations and dismantle even more of the administrative state. Phase two will assault Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and every other domestic social program serving the overwhelming majority of the population. However nasty the Republicans’ replacement for the Affordable Care Act appears, it is the world’s greatest socialist giveaway compared to what Trump will do to the government and the people it belongs to with the Koch-Heritage budget.

Although it is true the budget outlined this morning has to get past the Koch-Republican Congress, there is little doubt that except for drastic cuts to the Department of State, Koch-aligned Republicans will gleefully aid their funders in dismantling the government agencies that serve the people. Besides funneling tens-of-billions robbed from social programs, education, scientific research, and environmental protections to fund Trump’s “wars America has to start winning,” it will significantly reduce the “non-defense federal workforce” to rapidly kill tens-of-thousands of jobs.

According to the fascists running the executive branch, Trump and Bannon, the “skinny budget” “will reset the process of Washington policy making” from a policy of serving the “general welfare” of the people to a policy that serves the rich and their corporations exclusively, as well as the military industrial complex.

To demonstrate the Trump’s malice towards humanity, besides slashing the Environmental Protection Agency by over a third, there are drastic reductions to the “60-year-old State Department Food for Peace Program, which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters.” It makes sense that an administration promising to win more wars would take drastic measures against any program for peace, or diplomacy – that is the purpose of cutting the State Department budget. Just to show how petty the Trump-Heritage budget is, it completely eliminates the Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program because it subsidizes flights to rural airports. It is a signal to the country bumpkins who voted for Trump that his agenda never, never ever, not even once took their needs into consideration and instead takes as much as possible from the people.

For example, Trump is expected demand “a wide array of cuts to public education, to transportation programs like Amtrak and to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the complete elimination of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, which funds popular programs like Meals on Wheels, housing assistance and other community assistance efforts.” It is a preview of what Trump means by “resetting the process of Washington policy making” that his chief strategist Bannon labeled “deconstructing the administrative state.

As expected, it is the cuts to the EPA that will impact Americans as detrimentally as the GOP’s draconian healthcare plan. And although thousands of Americans won’t die quickly for lack of affordable, or any, healthcare, Americans will die to enrich corporations. The NYT pointed out that as expected, the Koch-Heritage proposed cuts to the EPA “are a magnitude greater even than those envisioned by congressional Republicans, many of whom forcefully oppose the agency’s regulatory agenda.”

As an example, last year the Republican-controlled House spending subcommittee setting the EPA budget proposed reductions that still funded the agency at $8 billion. At the time, the Koch-Republicans in the House only cut $291 million from President Barack Obama’s last requested funding amount for the EPA; not anywhere near the $2.6 billion demanded by Trump. The EPA cuts are so drastic that Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) said he never imagined having to cut the wildly-popular EPA “state grant programs that fund projects like restoring the Great Lakes and cleaning and redeveloping formerly contaminated industrial sites;” a cost that should be borne by the corporations responsible for the contamination like the lead still poisoning the water in and around Flint Michigan.

The NYT is patently wrong in claiming that both the current “skinny budget” and the “skinnier budget” to be unveiled later this Spring demonstrates the level of chaos, inexperience and staffing dysfunction in the Trump White House. Of course, the administration is all those things and so much more, but everything in the current and soon-to-be-released attack on government has been in the works for decades, more likely a generation or two going back to the New Deal. There is nothing chaotic or inexperienced in the Koch brothers’ vision of dismantling the government.

Some Senate Republicans have been critical of the Bannon-Trump proposal to slash funding for the State Department, but because they are so intricately tied, and heavily indebted, to the Koch brothers, there is little doubt they will revel in finally getting to do their part dismantling the federal government they have shown nothing but contempt for. But that makes sense for Republicans and their teabagger-conservatives who hate the government as much as they hate the American people and the U.S. Constitution.