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Trump administration to replace Clean Power Plan with ‘dirty power plan’

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

President Donald Trump claimed in September that he did away with the Clean Power Plan, one of the Obama administration’s most ambitious efforts for tackling climate change. The plan was the first to set a limit on carbon pollution from existing power plants. Dispensing with the regulation, Trump told a rally in Alabama, was simple as, “boom, gone.”

Of course the reality is more complicated. Because the Clean Power Plan is a finalized regulation from the EPA, the agency also has to put forward its justification for repealing it. During an appearance on Monday at the coal-mining town of Hazard, Kentucky, administrator Scott Pruitt announced his plans to sign the draft proposal to repeal the 2015 climate rule.

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“The war on coal is over,” Pruitt said. “Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan. No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Kentucky.”

The Clean Power Plan was crafted to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants 32 percent by 2030, by having states devise their own proposals for creating a pollution-cutting mix of renewables, gas, nuclear, and energy efficiency. But the Supreme Court stayed the rule in 2015, so its implementation stalled while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard the case brought by 26 states and coal companies like Murray Energy, which is owned by Trump donor Bob Murray. So far, the court hasn’t ruled, waiting to see what the Trump administration does next.

Another wrinkle is that the Trump administration eventually has to do something because it technically can’t ignore the EPA’s determination that greenhouse gases endanger public health, a finding compelled by a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2007. If they do nothing, they still risk lawsuits for not enforcing the Clean Air Act.

As I reported in August:

Whatever the administration decides, it will need to publish a written justification, which will be scrutinized by environmental groups in a likely lawsuit on the decision. The administration faces a similar quandary that plagued the GOP during the health care fight: Repeal the Clean Power Plan outright, or replace it with a shell of a rule?

According to a leaked draft of the EPA’s proposal, the Trump administration is choosing the first option — but with a twist. The 43-page document lays out the reasoning for repealing the rule by stressing the costs of implementation without factoring in the benefits from air pollution reduction and its contribution to combating climate change. The public is also invited to comment on alternatives for replacing it, without the EPA proposing any replacement of its own.

Janet McCabe, former head of the EPA office of air and radiation, explained that seeking input before even proposing a replacement “is not a legally necessary step.” Agencies use this step “sometimes to seek broad input before they put their own thoughts down into a proposal, which necessarily signals a particular policy and legal direction.”

A former EPA attorney that helped craft the Clean Power Plan told Mother Jones that the agency’s invitation to the public to comment is actually its own stalling tactic. The extra step pushes back the EPA’s regulatory timeline for nine months, at least. The reason the status quo appeals to the administration’s coal allies is that the implementation of the Clean Power Plan was delayed by the Supreme Court while current legal challenges played out. The coal industry only gains by the EPA delaying a replacement climate regulation, because the longer it’s put off, the longer it can pollute without limit. By stalling, Pruitt kicks the can down the road, by betting that the status quo of no rule in place is better than a replacement.

“Pruitt doesn’t believe in this stuff, so he’s actually in a paradoxical position,” says Joe Goffman, the former EPA attorney who is now at Harvard Law School’s environmental program. “If they do propose a replacement for the Clean Power Plan, what he’ll be doing is putting his signature on the proposal which will require to some extent power plants to address their carbon emissions.”

Nothing Pruitt is proposing now changes the underlying legal and scientific reasoning for why the EPA needs to do something on carbon emissions from the coal sector. Natural Resource Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Air Director David Doniger says the administration’s strategy is basically “replacing the Clean Power Plan with a dirty power plan.”

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Trump administration to replace Clean Power Plan with ‘dirty power plan’

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Democrats Are Setting Their Sights on "Putin’s Favorite Congressman"

Mother Jones

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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) won his first election to the House of Representatives in 1988 with 64 percent of the vote. He’s been reelected 13 times since then. And even though he walloped his most recent challenger by nearly 17 percentage points, some Democrats now think that this could be the final term for the Southern California conservative Politico has dubbed “Putin’s favorite congressman.

Protesters, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, assemble outside Rohrabacher’s office every Tuesday at 1 p.m. “He has been our congressman for a long time,” laments Diana Carey, vice chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County. “But because the district was predominantly Republican, my view is he’s been on cruise control.” Thanks to changing demographics in Orange County and newly fired-up liberal voters, Carey doesn’t think Rohrabacher’s seat is safe anymore.

Recently, Rohrabacher has been swept up in the scandal over the possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. Like Trump, Rohrabacher, who claims to once have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with Vladimir Putin in the 1990s, believes the Russian government is being unfairly demonized. (During the 1980s, Rohrabacher was a staunch anti-communist who hung out with the anti-Soviet mujahedeen in Afghanistan.) He has shrugged off allegations of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election by pointing out that the United States is guilty of similar actions. In May, the New York Times reported that in 2012 the FBI warned Rohrabacher that Russian spies were trying to recruit him. Two days earlier, the Washington Post reported on a recording from June 2016 in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” (McCarthy assured Rohrabacher the remarks were meant as a joke.)

In a 2016 conversation with Republican House members, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” Washington Post

But of all the issues where Rohrabacher and Trump align, Russia may be the least pressing concern for the constituents who are rallying against him. So far, Rohrabacher has voted in line with Trump’s positions more than 93 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight, including voting in favor of the GOP health care bill that would effectively end Obamacare. Rohrabacher pushed hard for the bill, warning his GOP colleagues that letting Trump’s first major legislative effort die would stunt the president’s momentum. “If this goes down,” he said in March, “we’re going to be neutering our President Trump. You don’t cut the balls off your bull and expect that’s he’s going to go out and get the job done.” Health care is a hot-button issue in the 48th District, Carey says. “I’ve had conversations with people who are absolutely beside themselves, scared that they’re going to lose coverage.”

While Rohrabacher won his last race in a near-landslide, his district went for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. She won by a slim margin, but it was enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to flag the district as a top target to flip in 2018. If the Democrats hope to best Rohrabacher in the midterms, they have a lot of work to do, says Justin Wallin, an Orange County-based pollster who runs an opinion research firm. “I don’t think Dana has carved out a position as a fire-breathing supporter for any political personality except for Ronald Reagan,” says Wallin, referring to Rohrabacher’s early days working in the Reagan White House. “He tends to align quite naturally with that district in his perspectives, his persona, and his political views. His district views him as being independent, and when Dana takes a position on something that seems to be outside the mainstream, that can actually buttress his favorable regard.”

Two Democrats have announced bids to run against Rohrabacher. One is first-time candidate Harley Rouda, a businessman and attorney who gave $9,200 to Republican congressional candidates and nothing to Democrats between 1993 and 2007. The other is Boyd Roberts, a Laguna Beach real estate broker who has vowed to work to impeach Trump and who finished last among five candidates running for a school board seat in Hemet, California, in 2012. Both are attacking Rohrabacher over his sympathetic stance toward Russia. “The district will vote Rohrabacher out because i think there is something with the Russia thing. I think I can raise money off it,” Roberts told the Los Angeles Times. In an online ad, Rouda calls Rohrabacher “one of the most entrenched members of Washington’s establishment” and vows to get “tough on Russia” if he is elected.

“They’re both kind of waving the flag of the Russia thing, and I just don’t think that’s gonna get them over the line,” says Wallin. Carey declined to comment on either candidate, though she says a third challenger will be announcing a bid this summer. Meanwhile, the DCCC hasn’t thrown its backing behind anyone yet. “Barring something dramatic happening, I’d say he is far more safe than a number of other districts in the area,” says Wallin.

Yet Carey thinks that so long as the Democrats continue organizing with the same intensity they’ve shown so far, they can turn the district blue. “We have a lot of folks who said they never paid attention before, a lot of no-party-preference people who are really concerned about democracy,” she says. When asked whether people in the district continue to be engaged, she responds, “So far I think the energy is staying. I tell people, ‘This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.’ But I think as long as Trump keeps tweeting, we’ll keep having interest!”

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Democrats Are Setting Their Sights on "Putin’s Favorite Congressman"

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“You’ll Be Hanging From A Tree.”

Mother Jones

Before Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) began his town hall Saturday morning, he instructed his aides to play a tape. It was, he explained, a voicemail he had received earlier in the week, shortly after he had delivered a speech on the House floor to become the first member of Congress to call for President Donald Trump to be impeached.

“Hey, Al Green, I’ve got an impeachment for ya—it’s gonna be yours,” said a man’s voice. “Actually we’re gonna give you a short trial before we hang your nigger ass.”

A murmur went up in the audience of 80 or so Houston-area constituents who had packed into a church hall in the city’s southwest corner. Green played another voicemail, which warned, “try it, and we’ll rinse out you fucking niggers, you’ll be hanging from a tree.”

When it was over, Green got to his point. “Friends, I want to assure you that no amounts of threats or intimidation will stop what I have started, I promise you—we are going to continue with this,” he said. “We are gonna move forward, we will not turn around.”

Green, a seven-term congressman and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, made his call for impeachment after Trump tweeted warning former FBI director James Comey not to leak details of their conversations with the press. Green told the audience he believes that Trump’s actions amounted to an admission of obstruction of justice, and the tweet constituted intimidation. It is imperative, he said, that the House move to indict Trump; nothing less than the rule of law is at stake.

Those who asked questions largely agreed with Green’s argument, but constituents seemed uncertain about the future. One man wondered if it was worth going through the impeachment process if the result was President Mike Pence. Another asked about impeaching Pence, too. A woman in the back wanted to know if there was any possibility of the president’s cabinet declaring him unfit. Unsurprisingly, given the president’s low approval in the district (just 18 percent of voters in the district voted for Green’s Republican opponent last fall), only one questioner voiced any real opposition to what Green had done, asking why he had said nothing about “the lawlessness of the Obama administration.”

Green himself suggested the process might plod along from here. He hadn’t introduced an official impeachment resolution yet and was planning more town halls on the subject. “I haven’t asked leadership for a response,” he told me, insisting that impeachment needed to come “from the bottom up, not the top down.” By the same token, no one in in the leadership had told him to pipe down, he said, although he allowed that there were “surely members who were thinking it.”

When a nine-year-old girl asked “why does it take so long to impeach Trump?” Green said that it “may never happen”—but it was worth giving the system time to function as it should. He has done a flurry of interviews over the last few days (there were NBC News cameras in the back of the room while he spoke) but is treading lightly when it comes to his fellow colleagues. Green told me he was not planning to lobby fellow members to get behind an impeachment measure—”people have to be guided by their conscience.” (He did hope, though, that they would listen to public opinion—at the event he asked residents to go to ImpeachTrumpNow.com to register their support.)

For now the road to impeachment is lonely, and perhaps very long. “I am a voice in the wilderness,” he said, “but history will vindicate me.”

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“You’ll Be Hanging From A Tree.”

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Republicans Who Backed Trumpcare Aren’t Holding Town Halls. So Democrats Are Going in Their Place.

Mother Jones

On Monday evening, about 500 residents of New York’s 19th Congressional District gathered at a wedding venue near the Hudson River to ask a local congressman about the American Health Care Act. But the congressman holding the town hall wasn’t the area’s newly elected representative, Republican John Faso, who had voted for the bill. Instead, they heard from Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents a neighboring district.

Members of Congress don’t often invade each other’s turf without an invitation—and Faso had most certainly not invited his colleague—but Maloney told the attendees he hoped to start a trend. “Let’s just imagine for a minute if in every district in this country where a member of Congress voted for this terrible health care bill and they won’t hold a town hall meeting, what if somebody else adopted that district?” he said. “Might be a Democrat! And then went in and did what we’re doing doing tonight. What do you think? We can adopt a district anywhere.”

It was a gloves-off affair from there. “He may be upset that I’m in his district, but I will just point out that he is not,” Maloney joked, noting that Faso was at a fundraiser in Albany. “I mean, they say nature abhors a vacuum, right?” Before Maloney began taking questions, he asked attendees to take out their phones and send a mass of tweets to Faso about the town hall. Maloney even brought an empty chair—just in case, he said, Faso decided to show up after all.

“This guy should not be on some milk carton—he’s your congressman,” Maloney said. “He should be here.”

Maloney’s stunt may indeed mark the beginning of a trend. On Tuesday evening, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) followed suit, appearing at a Tucson high school for a “Rally to Stop Trumpcare” in a district represented by one of its supporters, Republican Martha McSally. Unlike Maloney’s event, which he attended as part of his official duties, Gallego’s town hall was sponsored by the Arizona Democratic Party and more closely resembled a campaign function. McSally, who was not seriously opposed in 2016, is one of 14 Republican “yes” votes in districts won by Hillary Clinton.

Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan has planned a town hall in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat and a rising star in the party who was (briefly) floated as a 2020 presidential candidate, has also expressed interest in adopting a district, although he would have to travel a bit further to find one; there are no Republican congressional districts in southern New England. A group in Yolo County, California, has launched a campaign to get local Democratic Rep. John Garamendi to hold a town hall in a neighboring district represented by Republican Tom McClintock, a supporter of the bill. Organizers even included a sample call script to help constituents lobby Garamendi.

The adopt-a-district campaign is a new form of trolling for the Trump age. But it also marks an evolution for the Democratic grassroots, which since January have seized on town halls to put their representatives on the spot, express their anger, and produce viral moments. That was part of the idea behind the Indivisible Guide, a user’s manual for bugging the hell out of Congress, drafted by a group of ex-congressional staffers in December. Indivisible quickly went from a Google Doc to a movement with thousands of registered groups, in every congressional district in the country. It offered a blueprint for badgering congressional offices ahead of key votes and showing up to hassle officials in their own districts.

The problem: Most Republicans aren’t holding town halls, and many of the town halls that are being held require constituents to enter a lottery or present a driver’s license to get in. As Maloney noted, of the 217 Republicans who voted for the House health care bill last week, just 14 have scheduled town halls to talk about it. So the tactics of raising hell had to evolve, too. Indivisible groups have turned the town-hall schedule into a guerilla marketing campaign. They’ve put images of their representatives on milk cartons and cardboard cutouts and put up “missing” posters on telephone poles. In February, the national Indivisible group put out a “Missing Member Toolkit” to encourage local groups to set up their own “citizen” town halls. One of the suggested ideas for giving the events some zest (and legitimacy) if the local representative turned down their invitation was to invite another elected official to the event instead.

What’s happening in Faso’s district neatly illustrates the role these new (and some old) progressive grassroots groups have played in the Democratic Party’s attempts to block President Donald Trump. New York’s 19th District is a sprawling, largely rural swing area that veered hard toward Trump in 2016 after twice voting for Barack Obama. In early February, Indivisible CD-19 held its first big rally, a demonstration and concert outside Faso’s office in Kinderhook followed by a march to the congressman’s home nearby. Faso was not home at the time, but when he arrived 40 minutes later, he came out to speak to the protesters. Among them was a local woman named Andrea Mitchell, who has a brain tumor. She asked Faso if he would protect the Affordable Care Act’s ban on denying insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions, and when Faso said yes, the two hugged.

But Faso voted for AHCA, and Mitchell—and NY-19 Indivisible—want answers. “I honestly believed after the first vote he wouldn’t repeal it,” Mitchell said in an interview with Rachel Maddow last week. “A lot of my friends and constituents thought that that was very naive of me.” It was Mitchell’s interview with Maddow that first got Maloney thinking about adopting a district, and when he saw that the group’s invitation to Faso to attend the Monday event had gone unanswered, he accepted on Twitter. If Mitchell couldn’t get a straight answer from her congressman, Maloney concluded, he could at least offer one.

Helen Kalla, a spokesperson for the national Indivisible group, said the group is hoping the Maloney and Gallego events are the start of something bigger. “This is going to be a major push over the next several weeks across the country, with what we hope is a huge turnout during the Memorial Day recess in a few weeks,” she said. On Wednesday, the group unveiled a new “toolkit” on how to promote adopt-a-district town halls. Four months after the inauguration, with national Democrats bickering over a big-picture strategy, the cart is still dragging the donkey. And for now, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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Republicans Who Backed Trumpcare Aren’t Holding Town Halls. So Democrats Are Going in Their Place.

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Trump’s Immigration Order Is Now Effectively Dead

Mother Jones

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The Hawaii judge who halted enforcement of President Trump’s executive order on immigration has now gone a step further, turning his temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction. Dara Lind explains:

A temporary restraining order is only supposed to last a couple of weeks. It’s supposed to grant enough time for the judge to do another round of briefs and hearings, and then issue a more considered decision about whether to keep the provision on hold indefinitely while the case works its way through the courts. That indefinite hold is called a preliminary injunction, and a judge in the Western District of Maryland (part of the Fourth Circuit) has already issued one against part of the executive order.

With two separate courts ruling against the travel ban, the administration’s only hope to get the ban back into effect without Supreme Court intervention was for both of those rulings to be overturned — or for the Maryland injunction to be overturned and Judge Watson to decide not to extend his temporary order into a preliminary injunction.

The first option wasn’t likely. The Ninth Circuit is famously liberal, and it’s the same court that put the first version of the travel ban on hold. So the administration’s last hope was Watson.

On Wednesday night, Watson did exactly what the administration hoped he wouldn’t. He issued a preliminary injunction covering both the section of the travel ban temporarily banning people from particular countries and the part temporarily banning refugees.

This may seem like it’s not too big a deal. The immigration order has been on hold for weeks, and now it’s going to stay on hold. But it’s actually a huge deal. For all practical purposes, it means Trump might as well give up.

As you’ll recall, the original immigration order was temporary: it would last about three months, which would give the Trump administration time to put “extreme vetting” procedures into place. That three months is up at the end of May. Presumably, DHS has been working diligently on the new procedures all along, so they should be ready to put them into effect by then.

At some point in May or June, the case becomes legally moot. But that doesn’t really matter. More practically, by the end of May it means that the extreme vetting procedures should be in place and Trump no longer needs the travel ban. After all, its only purpose was to provide time to work out the new procedures.

This is only about six weeks away. Maybe eight if they’ve run into snags. There’s no realistic chance that this case is going to get through two levels of lower courts and the Supreme Court in that time. Trump may keep fighting in order to save face, but it’s pointless. This case is now dead.


Trump’s Immigration Order Is Now Effectively Dead

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Major TV networks spent just 50 minutes on climate change — combined — last year.

Nanette Barragán is used to facing off against polluters. Elected in 2013 to the city council of Hermosa Beach, California, she took on E&B Natural Resources, an oil and gas company looking to drill wells on the beach. Barragán, an attorney before going into politics, learned of the potential project and began campaigning for residents to vote against it. The project was eventually squashed. In November, she won a congressional seat in California’s 44th district.

To Barragán, making sure President Trump’s environmental rollbacks don’t affect communities is a matter of life or death. The district she represents, the same in which she grew up, encompasses heavily polluted parts of Los Angeles County — areas crisscrossed with freeways and dotted with oil and gas wells. Barragan says she grew up close to a major highway and suffered from allergies. “I now go back and wonder if it was related to living that close,” she says.

Exide Technologies, a battery manufacturer that has polluted parts of southeast Los Angeles County with arsenic, lead, and other chemicals for years, sits just outside her district’s borders. Barragán’s district is also 69 percent Latino and 15 percent black. She has become acutely aware of the environmental injustices of the pollution plaguing the region. “People who are suffering are in communities of color,” she says.

Now in the nation’s capital, Barragán is chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s newly formed environmental task force and a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which considers legislation on topics like energy and public lands and is chaired by climate denier Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican. She knows the next four years will be tough but says she’s up for the challenge. “I think it’s going to be, I hate to say it, a lot of defense.”

Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.

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Major TV networks spent just 50 minutes on climate change — combined — last year.

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Under Pressure, Darrell Issa Takes a Sharp Left Turn

Mother Jones

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), an early and outspoken supporter of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, is known for launching frequent investigations of Democrats. Then, in a February 24 appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher, he suddenly became the first congressional Republican to call for a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s election. He’s long used conspiracy theories to battle established climate science, yet on Thursday he joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators dedicated to fighting climate change.

Why the about-face? The former chair of the House Oversight Committee—famous for his high-theater, low-yield investigations into alleged Democratic scandals involving Benghazi, the IRS, the gun sting gone awry known as Operation Fast and Furious, and Healthcare.gov, among others—is suddenly facing a very tough election. California’s 49th Congressional District, where Issa has reigned for more than 16 years, has a growing Latino population that has helped push it slowly but steadily leftward. In November, Issa eked out a win over Democrat Doug Applegate, a political newcomer, by just 1,680 votes. Orange County, part of which falls within Issa’s district, favored Hillary Clinton by a nine-point margin, marking the first time it voted for a Democrat for president since 1936. The New York Times recently called Issa “probably the nation’s most vulnerable incumbent.”

Every week since the election, hundreds of people have descended on his San Diego County office to protest. Critics organized a town hall five miles from his office and raised $6,000 through a GoFundMe campaign for a full-page newspaper ad urging him to appear. Citing a “long-standing obligation” to tour a homeless shelter, he didn’t show. Instead, he was represented by a giant “Where’s Waldo?” cutout with his picture taped to its face.

“It’s been clear to those of us who live here that he’s been in campaign mode 24/7,” says Francine Busby, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party. “He’s definitely feeling the heat down here. I have no doubt that the Republican warrior who has always toed the party line to the nth degree, who is now changing his tune, has very personal motivations because of the vulnerability he feels in his seat.”

Upon learning that Issa had joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, one San Diego Republican political operative who asked to remain anonymous told Mother Jones, “Wow. That is definitely a calculated move.” Issa voted against the 2009 climate and clean-energy jobs bill and continues to make false claims that “there is a wide range of scientific opinion” on climate change and that “the science community does not agree to the extent of the problem.” The League of Conservation Voters gives him a lifetime score of just 4 percent for overwhelmingly voting “anti-environment” during his years in Congress. In 2013, the organization gave him a “Climate Change Denier” award for “his extreme anti-science views, which put him at odds with 97 percent of scientists and a majority of the American people.”

Issa represents a “highly environmentally conscious district,” the operative says, where Republicans “can’t really win being anti-environment. Even the more conservative Republicans still are pretty centrist on climate issues and the environment. It doesn’t surprise me that he would see that as beneficial, and I have a feeling that polling issues are guiding that too.”

Some observers think Issa’s call for a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s role in the election might not have been a calculated attempt to distance himself from Trump and pacify his constituents. He may simply have said more than he intended in his appearance on Maher’s show. “I don’t think he was prepared to have that question addressed to him,” says Busby. “There were two busloads of people who had been protesting him every step of the way in that studio that night, and I think that may have influenced his remarks.”

“My read on it,” says the Republican political operative, “was that this was probably a moment of intellectual honesty, particularly given his role on oversight, as something he would have suggested the Obama administration wouldn’t be trusted to investigate themselves.” But he added, “These kinds of things are probably top-of-mind as opportunities to pander, and this will show that ‘I am independent and not a Trumpster.'”

If Issa blurted out more than he meant to, he was bailed out a few days later by news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had failed to disclose meetings with a Russian diplomat during the 2016 election. “News overnight affirms what I’ve been saying: we need an independent review and Jeff Sessions should recuse himself,” Issa tweeted on Thursday.

Kurt Bardella, a former Issa staffer who criticized Issa’s embrace of Trump during the campaign, doesn’t see Issa’s call for a special prosecutor as a political maneuver. “There were countless times that Darrell led the charge for impartial and independent investigations during the Obama Administration because he recognized the inherent conflict in the idea of self-policing,” Bardella says. “Anyone trying to speculate that what he said was because of pressure from his district is clearly unfamiliar with his extensive oversight body of work.” And climate change, Bardella adds, “has never been an issue that carries any weight in terms of the district.”

Whatever his reasons, it seems clear that as Issa’s constituents continue their leftward march, the congressman is starting to follow them.

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Under Pressure, Darrell Issa Takes a Sharp Left Turn

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A Federal Judge Just Issued A Stay Against Donald Trump’s "Muslim Ban"

Mother Jones

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A federal judge in Brooklyn just issued an emergency stay against Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from certain predominantly Muslim countries, temporarily allowing people who have landed in the US with a valid visa to remain.

The historic ruling—a stunning first defeat for President Donald Trump coming at the end of his first week in office—protects anyone with a valid visa who arrived after the executive order (or were en route when the ruling was filed) from deportation under Trump’s order.

The director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project announced the victory on twitter:

The stay, granted by Judge Ann M. Donnelly of the US District Court, is temporary and a court will have to decide whether to make it permanent at a later date—and it only affects people who have already arrived in the United States or are currently in transit—but for now, people will not be deported because of Trump’s executive order:

The lawsuit was brought by the ACLU on behalf of two men detained at JFK airport in New York. The men were subsequently released.

You can read the ACLU’s original complaint below:

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container: “#DV-viewer-3436833-The-ACLU-Is-Suing-To-Stop-Donald-Trump-s-Muslim”

This is a developing story. We’ll update as more news comes in.

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A Federal Judge Just Issued A Stay Against Donald Trump’s "Muslim Ban"

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California Water Bill Rewards Farmers, Screws Environment

Mother Jones

A controversial bill that would override environmental rules to supply farmers with more water from California’s ecologically sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta sailed through the House of Representatives on Thursday. The bill may come up for a vote as soon as today in the Senate, where it is being championed by California senior Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat and powerful ally of agribusiness interests.

California’s other Democratic US senator, Barbara Boxer, staunchly opposes the bill and has threatened to filibuster it, potentially keeping her fellow senators from leaving for the year. It would be a dramatic last act for Boxer, an ally of environmental groups who is retiring this year after working closely with Feinstein in the Senate for 24 years. “I guess that’s how it goes,” Boxer said on the Senate floor this morning. “You come in fighting, you go out fighting.”

The contentious California provisions, which also include policies that would make it easier to build dams, were added on Monday by Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy as a rider to the sprawling Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, a popular bipartisan bill that would also provide aid to Flint, Michigan. The provisions reflect negotiations between Feinstein, California’s 14 Republican lawmakers, and a handful of Democrats.

The bill represents the culmination of a fight that has been brewing over the course of California’s six-year drought. It pits Central Valley farmers and Los Angeles area homeowners against environmental interests, fishermen, and farmers in the Delta region east of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Los Angeles Times‘ Sarah D. Wire summarizes the conflict. (Today she is following the hearings live on Twitter):

At issue is that the measure would allow officials at state and federal water management agencies to exceed the environmental pumping limits to capture more water during storms. Those limits have been a pet peeve of water contractors, including the Westlands Water District and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which complained of water supplies “lost to the sea” during last winter’s heavy rains.

Federal biologists have said certain levels of water flowing through the delta are vital for native fish, which have suffered devastating losses during the state’s prolonged drought, and help maintain the quality of the delta’s freshwater supplies. In short, if fish are determined to have enough water, or are not near the pumps, the excess water could be sent to the south.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) characterized it as placing political wants above science to go around federal law.

“When an act of Congress specifically supersedes peer-reviewed biological opinions that are the very mechanism of how the Endangered Species Act gets implemented, that is a grave undermining of the act,” Huffman said.

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee’s powerful energy and water panel, typically serves as the key negotiator on California-related water bills. Progressives often accuse her of ignoring environmental interests in favor of agricultural ones, particularly the billionaire California farmers Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who use more water than all the homes in Los Angeles combined. For more on Feinstein’s ties with the Resnicks, read our profile of them here.

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California Water Bill Rewards Farmers, Screws Environment

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Signs of the Times

Mother Jones

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The view from the bottom:

The Los Angeles Unified School District has set up a hotline and opened “extended support sites” to respond to a high level of student anxiety about the election of Donald Trump as president.

And the view from the top:

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Signs of the Times

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