Category: Partisan Politics

Interior head says public lands can make U.S. a ‘dominant’ oil power

Interior head says public lands can make U.S. a ‘dominant’ oil power:


Boosting drilling and mining on America’s protected federal lands can help the United States become not just independent, but “dominant” as a global energy force, according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose agency manages about one-fifth of U.S. territory.

In an interview with Reuters, Zinke outlined his approach to development and conservation in America’s wildest spaces, and discussed how that philosophy was guiding his review of which national monuments created by past presidents should be rescinded or resized to make way for more business.

“There is a social cost of not having jobs,” the former Montana Congressman and Navy Seal said in the interview on Friday. “Energy dominance gives us the ability to supply our allies with energy, as well as to leverage our aggressors, or in some cases our enemies, like Iran,” he said.

Trump calls mayor of shrinking Chesapeake island and tells him not to worry about it

Trump calls mayor of shrinking Chesapeake island and tells him not to worry about it:


It began a week earlier, when CNN aired a story about Tangier, Va., which sits on Tangier Island, about 12 miles from both the Virginia and Maryland coasts in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. The small island, now only 1.3 square miles, shrinks by 15 feet each year, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, which points to coastal erosion and rising sea levels as the cause.

The island’s 450 residents, many of whom are descendants of its first settlers in the 17th century, are desperate. Scientists predict they will have to abandon the island in 50 years if nothing is done.

Trump thanked the mayor and the entire island of Tangier, where he received 87 percent of the votes, for their support. Then the conversation turned to the island’s plight.

“He said we shouldn’t worry about rising sea levels,” Eskridge said. “He said that ‘your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.’”

Energy Department Closes Office Working on Climate Change Abroad

Energy Department Closes Office Working on Climate Change Abroad:


The Energy Department is closing an office that works with other countries to develop clean energy technology, another sign of the Trump administration’s retreat on climate-related activities after its withdrawal from the Paris agreement this month.

The 11 staff members of the Office of International Climate and Technology were told this month that their positions were being eliminated, according to current and former agency employees. The office was formed in 2010 to help the United States provide technical advice to other nations seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The small office also played a lead role preparing for the annual Clean Energy Ministerial, a forum in which the United States, China, India and other countries shared insights on how best to promote energy efficiency, electric vehicles and other solutions to climate change.

Word of the closing came right before Rick Perry, the energy secretary, attended the latest Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Beijing on June 6 to 8, agency employees said.

This Land Is … Cut Under Trump’s Budget?

This Land Is … Cut Under Trump’s Budget?:


Still subject to approval by Congress, the president’s budget includes a roughly $1.4 billion cut to the Department of Interior and far deeper cuts to the Department of Agriculture: combined the two agencies own and manage more than 700 million acres of public lands, mostly in the West.

Here are three items of note in the Department of Interior budget alone that aren’t generating much attention so far. But they could disproportionately hit rural communities, many of which tended to support President Trump in last year’s election.

Trump doesn’t really give a crap what you think about national monuments

Trump doesn’t really give a crap what you think about national monuments:



In late April, field biologist Stanley Smith was catching up on emails at his desk in the College of Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, when he noticed a shocking note. It came from the Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the Department of the Interior, and informed Smith that the public lands advisory council in southern Nevada that he’s served on for years was suspended. Across the country, other regional advisors got similar notices.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had called for a review of more than 200 independent groups that advise his department on various issues, such as whether a historical site or natural feature should be designated a national monument. The day before Smith received his notification, President Trump signed an executive order asking the Interior to review 21 sites recently designated as national monuments. The review would cover patches of wilderness that received the distinction after 1996, like Mojave Trails in California and Bears Ears in Utah, and would assess whether public opinion was adequately taken into account prior to elevating their status.

The monument order itself was controversial. But the months-long suspension of the advisory groups means that while Zinke’s team is reconsidering the bounds — and even existence — of some national monuments, the teams specifically set up to provide local input will be out of commission. Called Resource Advisory Councils (RACs), the groups consist of representatives from varied backgrounds, such as oil and gas, ranching, tribal government, and academia.

Mike Quigley, an Arizona RAC member who works for a conservation group, said suspending the advisory councils now “calls into question the administration’s sincerity in seeking public input.”

Sandra Zellmer, a law professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who specializes in public lands, is more blunt. She says the administration clearly “wants to talk more about economics and energy development and production than about sustainability.”

Quick reminder that public lands are public. They belong to all of us—not energy companies. I definitely recommend calling your representative.

Interior Department agency removes climate change language from news release

Interior Department agency removes climate change language from news release:


On Thursday, a group of scientists, including three working for the U.S. Geological Survey, published a paper that highlighted the link between sea-level rise and global climate change, arguing that previously studies may have underestimated the risk flooding poses to coastal communities.

However, three of the study’s authors say the Department of Interior, under which USGS is housed, deleted a line from the news release on the study that discussed the role climate change played in raising Earth’s oceans.

“While we were approving the news release, they had an issue with one or two of the lines,” said Sean Vitousek, a research assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “It had to do with climate change and sea-level rise.”

Could FOIA force the Trump administration to restore missing climate data?

Could FOIA force the Trump administration to restore missing climate data?:


A new provision in open records law, added by Congress last year, requires agencies to publish electronically any information that is requested at least three times through the federal Freedom of Information Act, so long as that information is not otherwise exempt from disclosure. Last week, the advocacy groups and the biologist submitted identical requests for climate change information, hoping to trigger that provision, and they just might succeed.

“The law is pretty explicit,” said Aaron Mackey, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes transparency. “The law just says, if you get three, then you have to affirmatively disclose it. This should work.”

Republicans Lose Big-Oil-Backed Bid To Repeal Obama-Era Greenhouse Gas Rule

Republicans Lose Big-Oil-Backed Bid To Repeal Obama-Era Greenhouse Gas Rule:


Republicans’ bid to roll back an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions from drilling rigs on public lands narrowly lost in the Senate on Wednesday after a three GOP senators voted against the repeal.

In a 49-51 vote, the Senate preserved the rule, passed after last November’s election, that limited the amount of the powerful greenhouse gas methane that can be vented and burned from oil and gas extraction sites on federal lands.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) were expected to vote against the rule, but the surprise defection of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) helped tilt the scales on a vote environmentalists are hailing as a rare victory over President Donald Trump’s assault on policies that address climate change.

France sent 42 people to a global climate summit. The Trump administration sent 7.

France sent 42 people to a global climate summit. The Trump administration sent 7.:


The U.S. government has sent just seven registered participants to a key United Nations meeting on the Paris climate agreement — a smaller delegation than Zimbabwe’s — underscoring the Trump administration’s deep ambivalence about the historic agreement.

White House officials are expected to huddle Tuesday to discuss the fate of the agreement — with business leaders and the international community pressing the United States to stay in the agreement, and President Trump’s conservative allies urging an exit.

The meeting in Bonn, Germany, represents the first of two gatherings this week where international partners will pressure the increasingly recalcitrant United States to affirm its role in the agreement of more than 190 nations.

Other industrialized nations, such as China, France and Germany, each sent dozens of officials — the French delegation alone had 42 official participants. The United States sent 44 official participants just last year.

Chicago just posted all the climate data deleted by Trump’s EPA.

Chicago just posted all the climate data deleted by Trump’s EPA.:


Chicago just posted all the climate data deleted by Trump’s EPA.

The EPA’s climate change webpage was taken down for revisions last month to “reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.” It’s apparently still being updated. (We checked, so you don’t have to.)

The page — which explained the basics of climate science and how it affects us — now has a new home: The City of Chicago’s website.

“Here in Chicago, we know climate change is real, and we will continue to take action to fight it,” reads a statement city officials added to what is essentially a direct facsimile of what was once on the EPA’s site.

An archived “Jan. 19 snapshot”  of the climate science page is still linked on the EPA site, but there’s one tiny problem: As Climate Central reported, the archive is missing information.

“The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a press release, “but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem.”