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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michigan residents warned to stop drinking poisoned water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Danny Miller – AP

Celebrating Pruitt’s departure ignores the danger of his replacement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Patheos

White House report vindicates President Obama’s regulatory agenda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump’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.

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.