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ENVIRONMENT

The Heritage Foundation’s Wallner wrote a memo last week outlining other 100-day priorities for the Trump administration, which included withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, reversing regulations on fracking…—Memoli, Chicago Tribune, 1/22/17

Trump bans agencies from 'providing updates on social media or to reporters' (Lartey, The Guardian, 1/24/17). So far, the EPA, NIH, USDA, and Dept. of the Interior have been forbidden to release information to the public for the first time in history, restricting citizen oversight into governmental actions. They are fighting back on Twitter.

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UPDATE 12/4: Trump signs EO: Bears Ears will be cut by 85%, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments will be cut by half (what this means: National Geographic; BBC: "In many ways, this decision has become an ideological struggle over who owns and who controls land in the West."). 12/1: GOP Senate passes "tax" bill, which includes removing protections from oil drilling in the Alaskan arctic (so they could get GOP Alaskan Senators to vote yes). 9/29: Nestle pays $200/yr to bottle millions of gallons of water (and in July, applied for an increase to over 200 million gallons/yr), while 2 hours away in Flint, MI, the water isn't drinkable, poisoned with lead since 2014. (The Guardian) Ask the MI Dept. of Environmental Quality NOT to approve Nestle's permit application! 9/10: Wildfires across the West. Harvey. Irma. Jose. Katia. 8/27: Hurricane Harvey, producing worst flood in US history, strikes Houston. 8/24: Interior Secretary Zinke decides not to recommend eliminating ANY national monuments. Has not yet released which ones he wants to shrink. (Reuters) Older Updates.

LEARN. Here, from National Geographic, is a running list on how the Trump Administration is changing the environment, and the news is not good. From the New York Times, here is an October list of 52 environmental rules on the way out under Trump. The Environmental Protection Agency issues and oversees regulations to protect the environment. The EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt (former OK Attorney General), is a friend of fossil fuel corporations, having sued the EPA 14 times. In the New York Times’ 12/6/14 article, Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General, Lipton writes, “The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state. But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.” It's likely Pruitt will continue acting to eviscerate the environment to benefit the corporate bottom line.

The Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, would be a check on Pruitt; however, Zinke has anti-environmental ties, as well. Fortunately, he didn't recommend eliminating any national monuments (which would have been a first for this country), but he did call for "shrinking" four of them (see "updates," above) to allow for "local communities" and "states" to decide how much oil drilling, mining, and tree-cutting they want. He said this would "provide a much-needed change for the local communities who border and rely on these lands." The Native Americans, who border Bears' Ears National Monument, are strongly against this, but although a Navajo reservation borders half the monument, they were not mentioned in Zinke's statement (Turkewitz & Friedman, 8/27/17, New York Times). The BBC presents both sides and explains the larger issues.

Who voted for Pruitt? We will remember in 2018! Democrats Manchinn (WV) and Heitkamp (ND) and all GOP House members voted to confirm Pruitt, except for Collins (R-ME). John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) did not vote. The final vote was 52-46, with 51 votes needed for confirmation.

What about SCOTUS protecting the environment? Gorsuch's mother, Anne Burford, was the administrator of the EPA from 1981-1983. She was notorious for trying to dismantle the EPA. Needless to say, Zinke, Pruitt, and Gorsuch's tenure do not bode well for the environment.

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