records of the environmental protection agency

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No, Winter Storm Stella doesn’t disprove climate change

  • Climate change deniers are at it again. The logic goes, “How could global warming be real when your driveway is piling up with cold, cold snow?”
  • Well, there’s bad news for deniers — research has shown that extreme weather, for example, massive snowstorms, are actually linked to climate change.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has studied climate change extensively winter storms have increased in both “frequency and intensity,” and climate change is “increasing the odds of more extreme weather events taking place.”
  • As meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote in Slate in 2016, just after a record-breaking winter storm dropped 26.6 inches of snow on New York City in just one day, “there is clear evidence global warming is boosting the odds of recent big Northeast snowstorms.” Read more (3/13/17 6:21 PM)

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A man with a nasty habit of suing the EPA now leads it, because why not?

Congrats, America: We now have a Senate-confirmed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) again. 

Oh, except that administrator is Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who sued the EPA multiple times over what he sees as its overly aggressive environmental regulations. Plus, he denies the mainstream scientific conclusion that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause of global warming. 

So, there are those little caveats.

SEE ALSO: Exxon’s former CEO is now our secretary of state. So, there’s that.

Pruitt has also questioned the dangers of mercury contamination and other hazardous substances the EPA is in charge of regulating. His record is so one-sided that the Sierra Club calls him simply, “… The most dangerous EPA Administrator in the history of our country.”

Pruitt’s reputation as an agency foe eager to give states more autonomy in regulating air and water pollution, combined with the EPA transition team’s gag order of the agency, has instilled so much fear among the EPA rank-and-file that agency scientists were among the thousands of people calling their senators on Thursday urging them to vote no on the nomination, a rare step for federal employees to take. 

Pruitt, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy secretary nominee Rick Perry, all have expressed views doubting climate science findings, and each of them are in charge of agencies deeply involved with the U.S. response to the global issue.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

During his confirmation hearing, Pruitt said he does not quite agree with the vast majority of climate scientists whose work has shown that greenhouse gases are causing global warming. 

“I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity’s impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity contributes to it,” he said.

“If you don’t believe in climate science, you don’t belong at the EPA,“ said May Boeve, executive director of the climate advocacy group 350.org, in a statement on Friday. 

What happens now?

Pruitt is expected to try to dismantle large parts of the EPA’s portfolio of regulations and science research put in place under prior presidents, particularly the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. Without that plan, the U.S. cannot live up to its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. 

However, Trump may be poised to pull the U.S. out of that pact entirely, which would make dismantling the Clean Power Plan easier. Trump is also expected to sign executive orders as early as Friday that would begin rolling back the EPA’s climate change work, though it’s easier to order that than it is to actually accomplish it.

Remarkably, Pruitt was confirmed only hours after a judge in Oklahoma ordered the release of nearly 3,000 emails between Pruitt and fossil fuel companies from his time as attorney general. 

We’d like to congratulate Mr. Pruitt on his confirmation! We look forward to welcoming him to EPA.

— U.S. EPA (@EPA) February 17, 2017

Senators never got a chance to factor those into their decision-making. 

Senate Democrats tried in vain to delay the vote to allow senators to see the emails, which stemmed from a state lawsuit filed by the Center for Media and Democracy and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma. Those organizations were concerned about Pruitt’s cozy relationship with the oil and gas industry there. 

Pruitt’s backers, including mainstream Republican groups like FreedomWorks, see him as an administrator to will try to get red tape off the backs of business owners, despite studies showing that the EPA’s regulations don’t stifle job growth.

A 2014 New York Times investigation already established that Pruitt often did favors for the oil and gas industry, particularly for major donors to the Republican Attorneys General Association. These included writing letters to lawmakers and the EPA seeking regulatory changes.

In the end, Pruitt won confirmation narrowly, on a 52 to 46 vote, garnering the most "no” votes of any EPA nominee since the agency was founded in 1970. 

BONUS: NASA timelapse shows just how quickly our Arctic sea ice is disappearing

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If you care about the environment and the life therein (including you) , contact your senators to oppose this unqualified cabinet pick.

Bill Moyers: Scott Pruitt Will Make America Great Again for Polluters

President Trump’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency might put it on the endangered species list.

Bill Moyers takes on President Trump’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has a track record of putting the business interests of the energy sector before the environmental and health interests of the public. He has spent his career fighting the rules and regulations of the agency he is now being nominated to lead. His expected confirmation threatens to make America great for polluters again.

Trumps picks aren’t accidents

There’s a reason practically every person chosen for a position has a track record of trying to undermine that position

For a long time now republicans have been advocating for “smaller government” and what better way to do that than tear the different vital government departments apart from the inside?

That’s why the head of the Environmental Protection Agency has a record of trying to dismantle environmental protections. That’s why the incoming education secretary is against public schools. Etc etc

They want to destroy the government and we finally gave them their chance.

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1. Water cooling towers of the John Amos Power Plant loom over Poca, WV, home that is on the other side of the Kanawha River. Two of the towers emit great clouds of steam (1973), Harry Schaefer

2. Industrial smog blacks out homes adjacent to North Birmingham pipe plant. This is the most heavily polluted area of the city (1972), Leroy Woodson

3. Children play in yard of Ruston home, while Tacoma smelter stack showers area with arsenic and lead residue (1972), Gene Daniels

4. Chemical plants on shore are considered prime source of pollution (1972), Marc St. Gil

National Archives, Records of the Environmental Protection Agency

usatoday.com
4 million Americans could be drinking toxic water and would never know
A USA TODAY Network investigation finds a broken enforcement system that traps millions of Americans, mostly in rural and remote places, with poisoned or untested drinking water.

Excerpt:

Millions of Americans face similar risks [lead] because the nation’s drinking-water enforcement system doesn’t make small utilities play by the same safety rules as everyone else, a USA TODAY Network investigation has found.

Tiny utilities - those serving only a few thousand people or less - don’t have to treat water to prevent lead contamination until after lead is found. Even when they skip safety tests or fail to treat water after they find lead, federal and state regulators often do not force them to comply with the law.

USA TODAY Network journalists spent 2016 reviewing millions of records from the Environmental Protection Agency and all 50 states, visiting small communities across the country and interviewing more than 120 people stuck using untested or lead-tainted tap water.

The investigation found:

  • About 100,000 people get their drinking water from utilities that discovered high lead but failed to treat the water to remove it. Dozens of utilities took more than a year to formulate a treatment plan and even longer to begin treatment.
  • Some 4 million Americans get water from small operators who skipped required tests or did not conduct the tests properly, violating a cornerstone of federal safe drinking water laws. The testing is required because, without it, utilities, regulators and people drinking the water can’t know if it’s safe. In more than 2,000 communities, lead tests were skipped more than once. Hundreds repeatedly failed to properly test for five or more years.
  • About 850 small water utilities with a documented history of lead contamination — places where state and federal regulators are supposed to pay extra attention — have failed to properly test for lead at least once since 2010.
Cruz has also spoken out against decades of science that indicate climate change, telling CNN last year that in “the last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming” to support “a so-called scientific theory”. His vociferous opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his support of extreme budget cuts could spell trouble for Nasa’s less prominent programs, such as its own climate research and sophisticated supercomputers.
 
His role on the front lines of the 2013 government shutdown, which critics say had lasting negative effects on public safety, Nasa research and EPA scientists’ ability to visit contaminated sites, also suggests at best a narrow focus on Nasa’s largest projects and at worst a disregard for agencies that require science funding.
 
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, was named chair to the subcommittee on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries and coast guard, which oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Nooa) and the protection of oceans and marine life in US jurisdiction. Rubio has said he does not “believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate”, which is a more lenient position than the new chair of the environment committee, Jim Inhofe, who denies climate science outright.
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January 9th 1913: Richard Nixon born

On this day in 1913, the future 37th President of the United States Richard Milhous Nixon was born. Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California and later represented his state in the House of Representatives and the Senate as a member of the Republican Party. He made a name for himself in Congress for his role in the anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee, especially in the infamous Alger Hiss case, and this led to his becoming Vice-President from 1953 to 1961 under President Eisenhower. After a closely fought campaign, he lost the 1960 election to Democrat John F. Kennedy, but later won the presidency in 1968. As President, Nixon initially increased US involvement in the ongoing Vietnam war and extended the military operations into neighboring Cambodia, but he eventually ended American involvement in the war in 1973. Nixon also made history by visiting the communist nations of China and the Soviet Union, thus easing tensions between the Cold War camps. In domestic affairs Nixon is notable for his support of affirmative action policies for African-Americans and his establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, Nixon’s previous record in office has been overshadowed by the fact that in 1974 he became the first and only US President to resign from office. This occurred after revelations about the Watergate scandal, which refers to the illegal activities carried out his administration, including the wiretapping of political rivals, and a subsequent cover-up. He was formally pardoned by his successor Gerald Ford, and tried to rehabilitate his image until he died from a stroke in 1994 aged 81.