Tag Archives: trump

Trump wants to ignore the effects of climate change when permitting infrastructure projects.

The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, filed a lawsuit on Friday to get the agency to say how it plans to handle Administrator Scott Pruitt’s potential conflicts of interest. Pruitt is now in charge of enforcing rules that he tried to unravel with numerous lawsuits as Oklahoma’s attorney general.

“Administrator Pruitt’s ability to serve as an impartial decision maker merits close examination,” Becerra said in a statement.

In April, Becerra filed a broad Freedom of Information Act request for documents tied to Pruitt’s potential conflicts of interest and efforts to follow federal ethics laws. Generally, agencies must respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days, though they have some wiggle room. But four months later, the EPA has yet to turn over anything.

Liz Bowman, an EPA spokesperson, told the Los Angeles Times that the agency had twice told Becerra’s office they were working on assembling the documents. She said the lawsuit was “draining resources that could be better spent protecting human health and the environment.”

The suit from the Golden State is just part of the legal backlash Pruitt’s staring down: He’s already been sued over ozone regulations and the suspension of methane restrictions for new oil and gas wells.

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Trump wants to ignore the effects of climate change when permitting infrastructure projects.

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The coal industry is still declining, so Trump is considering a bailout.

According to a new study from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project, the current presidential administration has collected fewer civil penalties and filed fewer environmental enforcement suits against polluting companies than the Obama, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations did at the same point in office.

The analysis assesses agreements made in the Environmental Protection Agency’s civil enforcement cases. For abuses under laws like the Clean Air Act, the Trump administration has collected just $12 million in civil penalties, a drop of 60 percent from the average of the other administrations. Trump’s EPA has lodged 26 environmental lawsuits compared to 31, 34, and 45 by Bush, Obama, and Clinton, respectively.

The marked decrease in enforcement likely has to do with the EPA’s deregulatory agenda. Since confirmed, administrator Scott Pruitt has systematically tried to knock out key environmental regulations, especially those created during Obama’s tenure.

The Project notes that its assessment is only of a six-month period, so future enforcement could catch Trump up to his predecessors. Or he’ll continue to look the other way.

“I’ve seen the pendulum swing,” said Bruce Buckheit, who worked in EPA enforcement under Clinton and then Bush, “but never as far as what appears to be going on today.”

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The coal industry is still declining, so Trump is considering a bailout.

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Trump is going easy on polluters.

According to a new study from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project, the current presidential administration has collected fewer civil penalties and filed fewer environmental enforcement suits against polluting companies than the Obama, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations did at the same point in office.

The analysis assesses agreements made in the Environmental Protection Agency’s civil enforcement cases. For abuses under laws like the Clean Air Act, the Trump administration has collected just $12 million in civil penalties, a drop of 60 percent from the average of the other administrations. Trump’s EPA has lodged 26 environmental lawsuits compared to 31, 34, and 45 by Bush, Obama, and Clinton, respectively.

The marked decrease in enforcement likely has to do with the EPA’s deregulatory agenda. Since confirmed, administrator Scott Pruitt has systematically tried to knock out key environmental regulations, especially those created during Obama’s tenure.

The Project notes that its assessment is only of a six-month period, so future enforcement could catch Trump up to his predecessors. Or he’ll continue to look the other way.

“I’ve seen the pendulum swing,” said Bruce Buckheit, who worked in EPA enforcement under Clinton and then Bush, “but never as far as what appears to be going on today.”

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Trump is going easy on polluters.

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Toyota says it’s on the cusp of a major electric vehicle breakthrough.

James Eskridge, mayor of Virginia’s tiny Tangier Island, gave the climate change activist a piece of his mind during a televised town hall meeting Tuesday evening.

He blames his island’s slow descent into the Chesapeake Bay on erosion instead of encroachment from surrounding waters. “I’m not a scientist, but I’m a keen observer,” Eskridge said to Gore. “If sea-level rise is occurring, why am I not seeing signs of it?”

Scientists predict the residents of Tangier Island — which stands only four feet above sea level — will have to abandon it within 50 years due to rising waters. President Trump, meanwhile, reportedly called up Eskridge in June to say, “Your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.”

While Eskridge told Gore that the island needed a seawall to survive, the mayor doesn’t seem to buy either the experts’ or Trump’s assessments.

Gore explained that a challenge in climate communication is “taking what the scientists say and translating it into terms that are believable to people — where they can see the consequences in their own lives.”

But this is a case where someone can see it and still can’t believe it.

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Toyota says it’s on the cusp of a major electric vehicle breakthrough.

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Need a break from political news? Hey, look, the ocean!

We’ve seen big declines in wild bee populations. That’s not just bad for the fuzzy little bees; it could drive up prices for almonds, blueberries, and other pollinator-dependent treats.

The challenge is knowing what would help them. Do we focus on preserving habitat and flowers? Or should we focus on certain pesticides? Is climate change behind this, too? It’s hard to say because bees are hard to study. It’s relatively easy to count long-legged pronghorns or wide-winged condors compared to counting the gnat-sized Perdita minima, the world’s tiniest bee.

That’s why a research team at the University of Missouri has been putting little microphones in alpine meadows. When those mics record buzzing, the team’s software analyzes the noise to tell scientists the number and species of bees visiting. They just published a paper, showing that their methods work.

This breakthrough could allow regular folks to collect solid scientific data from the safety of their porch. Farmers could “monitor pollination of their orchards and vegetable crops and head off pollination deficits,” said Candace Galen, a biological science professor who led the university’s research team, in a news release.

Interested? The group is working on an app that would let you collect bee data with your smartphone.

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Need a break from political news? Hey, look, the ocean!

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Trump Is Now Lying to His Own National Security Staff

Mother Jones

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In his NATO speech a week ago, Donald Trump declined to explicitly endorse Article 5, the provision that says an attack on one is an attack on all. I’m on record as suggesting that reaction to this was sort of overblown, but Susan Glasser provides some behind-the-scenes context to suggest it was quite a bit worse than I thought. It turns out that Trump’s entire national security team wanted him to offer a public endorsement:

National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all supported Trump doing so and had worked in the weeks leading up to the trip to make sure it was included in the speech, according to five sources familiar with the episode. They thought it was, and a White House aide even told The New York Times the day before the line was definitely included.

….The frantic, last-minute maneuvering over the speech, I’m told, included “MM&T,” as some now refer to the trio of Mattis, McMaster and Tillerson, lobbying in the days leading up to it to get a copy of the president’s planned remarks and then pushing hard once they obtained the draft to get the Article 5 language in it, only to see it removed again. All of which further confirms a level of White House dysfunction that veterans of both parties I’ve talked with in recent months say is beyond anything they can recall.

This is…astonishing. MM&T had to lobby just to get a copy of Trump’s remarks? And then, after getting the wording in, it was removed behind their backs? WTF?

“They had the right speech and it was cleared through McMaster,” said a source briefed by National Security Council officials in the immediate aftermath of the NATO meeting….“They didn’t know it had been removed,” said a third source of the Trump national security officials on hand for the ceremony. “It was only upon delivery.”

….The episode suggests that what has been portrayed—correctly—as a major rift within the 70-year-old Atlantic alliance is also a significant moment of rupture inside the Trump administration, with the president withholding crucial information from his top national security officials—and then embarrassing them by forcing them to go out in public with awkward, unconvincing, after-the-fact claims that the speech really did amount to a commitment they knew it did not make.

Holy shit. It’s one thing to lose a battle about what goes into a presidential speech—that happens all the time—but it’s quite another to agree to include something and then remove it without telling your top national security advisors. And then send them out to face the press.

This isn’t a case of Trump listening to the last guy in the room. It sounds more like Trump being unwilling to tell his national security team to their faces that he disagrees with them—and then screwing them behind their backs. How long can you keep working for a guy like that?

The bizarre thing is that what Trump did wasn’t entirely indefensible. It’s obviously not what I (or McMaster or Mattis or Tillerson) would have done, but Trump could have made the case that asking NATO partners nicely for increased defense spending hadn’t worked in the past, and he wanted to tighten the screws. The way to do it is to make everyone just a little nervous by saying nothing about Article 5 one way or the other.

MM&T would have disagreed, but Trump is president and he could have overruled them. Trump took office promising to disrupt the status quo, so they could hardly have been surprised if he had told them he wanted to play a little hardball and that they should be prepared for some blowback. At least then they would have known what to say afterward.

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Trump Is Now Lying to His Own National Security Staff

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Donald Trump Doubles Down on Boorish Temper Tantrums

Mother Jones

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President Trump was busy during his early morning “Fox & Friends” time. Around 6 am there was this:

First he deliberately undermines his own Justice Department by needlessly calling his immigration EO a “travel ban.” Why? Because he got criticized for accidentally doing this over the weekend, and by God, that means he needs to double down. Having done that, he then proceeds to slam the Justice Department as if they worked for someone else. If he wanted them to stay with the original travel ban, he should have told them to. If he wussed out, it’s his fault, not theirs.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that we’re now in the fifth month of Trump’s childish refusal to go ahead with new travel regulations while we wait for the courts to rule on his temporary travel ban that was meant to give him time to write new travel regulations.

Then, after a bit of random whining, Trump decides to go back to the well on the mayor of London:

Even for Trump, this is close to unbelievable. His original tweet about this yesterday was a lie, and would have been wildly inappropriate even if it weren’t. The city of London had just been hit by a deadly terrorist attack! Trump got blasted for this breathtaking display of churlishness, of course, and that meant he had to hit back today even more boorishly in front of the whole world. Because Donald Trump never, ever, backs down from anything, no matter how stupid.

Holy hell. 43 months to go.

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Donald Trump Doubles Down on Boorish Temper Tantrums

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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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Nobody Knows Anything, Washington DC Edition

Mother Jones

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From President Trump’s press office:

From President Trump’s budget chief:

Tomorrow’s headline: EPA chief says “protecting the environment” not the “primary aim of this agency.”

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Nobody Knows Anything, Washington DC Edition

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Pittsburgher to Trump: You got me all wrong

There are truly too many things to denounce in President Trump’s Thursday speech that pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement. There’s the utter disregard for future generations, the blatant lack of understanding of the modern economy, the failure to grasp what climate change is — and then, the part where he forgot that Pittsburgh is the Paris of Appalachia! It’s like, where even to begin?

Yes, we’re here to discuss the much-trumpeted “I was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris” line of Trump’s Rose Garden speech. Like many Trump lines, it’s so baffling that it takes a few moments and several hard cigarette drags to process, but it actually touches on the president’s crucial misunderstanding of the rift between rural and urban America. Let’s break it down.

Many, many people — including Pittsburgh’s Mayor Bill Peduto — have rushed to tell Trump that he was not elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, because the city of Pittsburgh voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton. But the electoral college did elect Donald J. Trump as president of the United States, of which Pittsburgh is a strange, small, but critical member — much like Steve Buscemi pre-Boardwalk Empire. Therefore, Trump was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, because that’s how federal elections work. He said a true thing!

Trump’s actions, however, are no representation of what Pittsburghers truly want. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 70 percent of Allegheny County residents (which includes Pittsburgh) say they want 20 percent of their electricity to be renewably sourced; 80 percent support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant; 74 percent support setting strict limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants.

These policies would be more ambitious than what was called for in the United States’ proposed commitments in the Paris Agreement. In other words, many Pittsburghers think that the climate pact Trump just scrapped was too lax.

After Trump’s talk, Mayor Peduto held a press conference on the subject of his Tweet heard ’round the world, which promised that Pittsburgh would continue to commit to the Paris Agreement. The room — because it was in Pittsburgh — was basically empty. That’s unfortunate, because Peduto addressed an essential misstep in Trump’s alliteration of two cities: That urban centers tend not to share beliefs, values, or even needs with the rural areas that surround them.

“There’s the city of Pittsburgh, which I represent, and then there are the surrounding areas,” Peduto said. “Maybe he should have a speechwriter that understands difference between ‘city’ and ‘region’ … This city doesn’t support his initiatives. For him to then use this city as an example of who he is elected to represent — he’s not representing us at all.”

Peduto then added that he was “offended” by the mischaracterization, an assertion that was quickly broadcast by local conservative media.

Pittsburgh is a deep blue city in a very red state. Those unfamiliar with the city would be surprised by how suddenly upon exiting its limits that one enters into Trump territory. Pittsburgh is surrounded by old coal and steel mill towns, long-dormant and depressed, where support for Trump runs high. Peduto addressed the disparity between the two poignantly:

“The areas that voted for him, the areas in the Rust Belt that see an opportunity in the past as the only opportunity for the future — he is giving them false hope.”

The stereotypical impression of Pittsburgh — and one that I encounter frequently as a proud but expatriated native — is that it’s a filthy, dark, depressed steel town. This impression is so outdated that it describes a place I’ve never seen. Pittsburgh’s primary industries have long been education and healthcare. More recently, and controversially, it’s become a bit of a tech hub. There’s not a speck of coal dust to be found — in fact, anyone with the privilege of visiting Pittsburgh notes that the city is uniquely lush and verdant.

Peduto said that Trump “used us as an example of a stereotype in order to make a point, and it missed completely.”

Pittsburgh’s success, Peduto emphasized, is a result of the city slowly weaning itself off a fossil fuel-based economy. Peduto himself attended COP21 in 2015 as part of an international coalition of mayors, and said he still plans on trying to hit the targets laid out in the Paris Agreement. (Peduto released an executive order this morning to this end.)

And yet the outlying, fading towns threaten to be left even further behind, as even the economic forces behind a fossil fuel-driven economy show signs of faltering.

Who would have thought that a president given to graceless, often indecipherable public statements could capture such a delicate facet of a split America in a single sentence! It’s been a very weird week.

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Pittsburgher to Trump: You got me all wrong

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