Posts Tagged ‘EPA’
With Scott Pruitt now installed at the EPA, what is arguably one of the most successful government agencies ever—remember the dousing of the Cuyahoga River fire? Or the reduction of smog in LA?—is now itself gasping, on life support.
Those environmental advances were in large part because the EPA was around to protect the nation’s air, water, ground and health. Now it’s pretty clear that an emasculated EPA under Pruitt will have a tough time merely surviving, rather than continuing its work. For one thing one of Barrack Obama’s boldest environmental legacies, the Clean Power Plan, is going away.
In his first interview (with the Wall Street Journal) as EPA administrator, Pruitt said he wants to refocus the agency on a more narrow role. Pruitt said he expects to quickly withdraw both the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule, the Obama administration’s attempt to clarify the EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.
“There’s a very simple reason why this needs to happen: Because the courts have seriously called into question the legality of those rules,” Pruitt said in the interview, as reported by ThinkProgress.
ThinkProgress reported that Pruitt has challenged the mainstream scientific consensus on climate change, arguing that there is significant debate on whether it is happening and whether humans are the primary cause: “in reality there is little to no debate about those questions – 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that climate change is both happening and that human activity is contributing to it.
“There will be a rule-making process to withdraw those rules, and that will kick off a process,” Pruitt told the Wall Street Journal. “And part of that process is a very careful review of a fundamental question: Does EPA even possess the tools, under the Clean Air Act, to address this? It’s a fair question to ask if we do, or whether there in fact needs to be a congressional response to the climate issue.” In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts vs. EPA that the EPA does, in fact, possess the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases as air pollutants.
As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt “disbanded the office’s Environmental Protection Unit, dedicated to pursuing environmental law violations, and pursued only three environmental enforcement cases during his six years as Attorney General,” ThinkProgress reported. In addition:
“Pruitt also said that, as EPA administrator, he would focus on creating regulatory certainty that will help industry and spur job growth. Pruitt has long been a friend of the fossil fuel industry — emails revealed during a 2014 investigation by the New York Times showed Pruitt sending a letter of complaint to the EPA, in his role as Oklahoma Attorney General, drafted by Devon Energy, the largest energy company in Oklahoma.
The night before Pruitt was confirmed as EPA administrator by the Senate, a judge in Oklahoma ordered Pruitt’s office to release thousands of emails between the nominee and oil and gas companies. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) had requested access to those emails two years ago, but Pruitt’s office refused. The office has until Tuesday to release some 3,000 documents, which may reveal more coordination between Pruitt and industry actors.”
Those documents likely will be alarming and reveal much more about Pruitt’s ties to the fossil fuel industry, but will they affect the EPA’s future? Get set for a bumpy four years.
The emerging Trump administration/cabal is taking shape, and it’s not looking good for the environment and climate change. What is emerging, for the most part, is a group of rich people in tune with the “president-elect’s” version of business intrusion, anti-regulation and crony capitalism.
With respect to the environment, and specifically the Environmental Protection Agency, DJT selected a puppet of the fossil fuel industry, Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, to head the EPA. According to the New York Times report on the nomination, it signals a “determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the EPA itself.” Pruitt is actually suing the EPA for its “regulatory overreach” in his oil and gas intensive state.
The transition team press release announcing Pruitt’s selection, (quoted in a Washington Post report) said, “For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn,” the release quoted Trump as saying. Pruitt “will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.” Trump added, “My administration “strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity.”
More evidence that we are in Orwellian 1984 territory. Get ready for four years of doublethink.
Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, said: “Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires. He is a climate science denier who, as Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA protections. “Nothing less than our children’s health is at stake. Scott Pruitt, whose own bio describes him as ‘a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda’ cannot be trusted to head the EPA, an agency charged with protecting all Americans from threats to their water, air, and health. We strongly urge Senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to stand up for families across the nation and oppose this nomination.”
Senate Democrats have signaled they will fight this nomination—this could be an early battle, and test, for the Dems.
Image: Scott Pruitt by Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to issue a scientific finding that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health, paving the way for regulating emissions from the U.S. aviation industry.
Touching off what is likely to be a long and contentious regulatory process, the EPA on Wednesday said it is “proposing to find under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial aircraft contribute to the pollution that causes climate change endangering the health and welfare of Americans.”
At the same time, the agency released information about the international process underway by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for developing carbon dioxide (CO2) standards for aircraft and EPA’s participation in that process. EPA is seeking public input to inform future steps by the agency. Read the rest of this entry »
A recent report from the Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres says that strong fuel efficiency and GHG emission standards for freight trucks could slash fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent compared to 2010 levels, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.
In fact the report suggests that American businesses could save more than $25 billion if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt stringent fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards. The two agencies were tasked by President Obama to come up with proposed target standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March, 2015. Read the rest of this entry »
Good news about the air we breathe is, well, good news indeed. Also rare. But there is some good news regarding ground level ozone, or smog, courtesy of research from Rice University and the EPA.
This can get a bit technical, but thanks to the EPA the difference between ground level ozone and high-altitude ozone, in simple terms, is: ozone is “good up high, bad nearby.” We need that high altitude ozone layer to protect the atmosphere and us. But ground level ozone, created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight, is harmful. Read the rest of this entry »
Fracking is getting heat—or at least a lot of attention—at the grassroots and at the federal levels. President Obama this month issued an Executive Order forming an interagency working group “supporting the safe and responsible development of unconventional natural gas resources.”
“Unconventional” in this case is hydraulic fracturing—aka fracking—a natural gas extraction method in which water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground at high pressure in order to fracture, or crack open, layers of rock, making oil and natural gas accessible. Fracking makes it easier to get at the large deposits of oil and gas from shale formations.
But many also contend that it is risky and, in effect, cruel and unusual punishment to the earth’s crust and water resources. Fracking can release harmful pollutants into the air and underground water tables. There is also alarming evidence that the process causes earthquakes, which apparently is what happened last year at a fracking site near Blackpool, England. Read the rest of this entry »