Tag Archives: EPA

‘Haven’t paid … close attention’? Really, Mr. Speaker?

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan needs to be called out for telling a lie. So, I think I’ll do that.

He said this today in response to a question about whether he had faith in Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt:

“Frankly I haven’t paid that close attention to it … I don’t know enough about what Pruitt has or has not done to give you a good comment.”

Really and truly, Mr. Speaker? He is saying that all this tumult over EPA Administrator Pruitt’s mounting ethical troubles have gone unnoticed by the nation’s third-in-line for the presidency. He hasn’t paid “close attention to it,” he said.

Good grief, Mr. Speaker. Do you expect anyone to believe this?

I am quite certain he knows quite enough to make a comment on Pruitt’s troubles. He just doesn’t want to say anything about it.

Let me refresh his memory: Pruitt secured a dirt-cheap rental agreement for himself and his wife from a lobbyist who represents a company that is subject to EPA rules and regulations; Pruitt has been spending extravagantly for such things as a “secure telephone booth” in his office; his travel tabs have been exorbitant as well.

These are ethical matters that keep on piling up.

It’s been in all the papers. Cable news networks have been reporting on these matters.

The speaker of the House hasn’t heard enough about it to make a comment, to answer a reporter’s simple and direct question?

I don’t believe the speaker is telling the truth.

Let’s not get physical with the media

Here’s yet another twist in the Trump administration’s ongoing conflict with the media. This one is a beaut.

Environmental Protection Agency officials forcibly escorted reporters from CNN and The Associated Press from a meeting room, barring them from covering a public event to discuss harmful chemicals in water.

EPA officials said there was a shortage of seats in the room. Reports indicate there were empty seats when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke to the group gathered.

What’s going on here? Please tell me the Trump administration isn’t going to start kicking reporters out of these events because of some perceive “negative coverage” he might get.

According to CNN.com: Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, addressed the matter at the daily briefing. Sanders said the White House would “certainly” look into the matter, but said for now she would refer reporters to the EPA’s statement, explaining that she could not “speak to a situation that I don’t have a lot of visibility into.” 

Yes, Ms. Sanders, the White House needs to “look into the matter.” It also needs to allow the media unfettered access to events of public concern for all Americans.

There’s that thing called the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, too, that guarantees “freedom of the press.” Let ’em report … freely!

Jackson mess seems to fit a pattern

Let’s review for a brief moment some of Donald J. Trump’s key Cabinet appointments.

I thought it would be worthwhile to look back a bit in the wake of the Dr. Ronny Jackson nomination to become head of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Jackson is a fine physician who has a good rapport with the president, which seems to be the major — perhaps the only — reason Trump selected him to lead the VA. He has no experience in leading an agency of such size and importance. His nomination is in dire peril over allegations of drinking on the job and over-prescribing of medicine.

  • Dr. Ben Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon who now runs the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His experience in running a huge federal agency? None, although he said he once visited a public housing complex.
  • Betsy DeVos was educated in private schools; she sent her children to private schools. She has no direct experience or exposure to public education. Yet she runs the U.S. Department of (public) Education.
  • Rick Perry once declared he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy. Now he is the secretary of the agency he once promised to wipe away.
  • Scott Pruitt served as Oklahoma attorney general and sued the federal government repeatedly over what he said were onerous regulations designed to protect our environment. Now he is head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Jim Bridenstine had no science background before Trump nominated him to lead NASA, the nation’s space agency.
  • The Trump administration has burned through four communications directors in less than 18 months. One of them had, um, no experience in the communications field.

Is there a pattern here? Sure there is. The fellow who nominated all of them to their high offices has no political/government/public service either.

The first public office the president of the United States ever sought was the one he occupies at this moment. He has no experience in government. None in public service.

He doesn’t know a damn thing about the value of public service, nor does he seem to appreciate why people serve the public.

There will be more drama and chaos to come. Of that I am certain.

But … the president tells it like it is.

Earth to POTUS: No ‘siege’ at EPA

Someone needs to explain to the president of the United States — in language a second-grader might understand — what a conflict of interest looks like.

It usually involves taking advantage of someone with a vested stake in a public policy, such as, oh, living for virtually free in a condo provided by a lobbyist whose interests might benefit from certain policies.

Such is the case with Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt, who rents a condo for $50 per night from an oil company lobbyist. The lobbyist is trying to curry favor with EPA on policies that would benefit the oil company.

Does one think that’s a conflict of interest? Yes! But if the answer is “no,” they need to look up the definition of the term.

Donald Trump says Pruitt is “totally under siege” by what he calls the “fake news media.”

Mr. President … ready my lips. No one is denying that the Pruitts are renting this condo from the lobbyist. The EPA director has offered some lame excuse that he pays that dirt-cheap rate only when he is staying there. How in the name of government ethics does that make it all right?

Pruitt was a bad choice to lead the EPA from the beginning, given his penchant for rolling back rules designed to, um, protect the environment. That he’s been revealed as someone who likes living high off the generosity of a lobbyist only makes matters worse.

So, Mr. President, stop with the “fake news” canard. It ain’t fake, sir. It’s true.

Fox News seeks to become ‘fake news’ network?

I have to give credit to a Fox News reporter, Ed Henry, for seeking some answers from Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt.

Hey, if the network allows more of this line of questioning, it will become part of the so-called “fake news” cabal that Donald Trump keeps excoriating.

Henry interviewed Pruitt about the ethics controversy that is boiling at Pruitt’s feet. He and his wife rented a pricey condo from an oil industry lobbyist for $50 a night. Henry asked Pruitt if that is the way to “drain the swamp” that the president keeps insisting is part of his Washington, D.C., agenda.

Pruitt said the question “isn’t remotely fair.” Actually, it was totally fair. I give Henry great credit for standing up to this guy.

Pruitt is unfit for the job anyway. That he would be taking what amounts to a gift from a lobbyist who is trying to influence EPA policy smacks of maximum conflict of interest.

I know it. Ed Henry knows it. It well might be that the president knows it. However, Pruitt pushes back by saying a tough question isn’t “remotely fair.”

Pruitt doesn’t get it. I doubt he will. He needs to go.

As for Fox News and one of its top-gun reporters, well done.

Hit the road, Mr. EPA Director

I’ll now join the chorus of those who want to see EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tossed out of office. He should be shown the door and told to avoid letting it hit him in the backside as he hits the road.

The man was a terrible selection to lead an agency whose mission is to “protect” the environment. The former Oklahoma attorney general made a lot of noise suing the Obama administration, seeking to overturn regulations designed to do the very thing that the EPA is charged to do. The Environmental Protection Agency is now better named the “Environmental Destruction Agency.”

Now he’s in some serious trouble ethically. He and his wife rented a condo from an oil company lobbyist. They got into the place dirt cheap. Meanwhile, the lobbyist was trying to persuade the EPA to roll back regs the oil company the lobbyist was representing wanted rolled back.

Gosh! Do you think there might be a conflict of interest here? I do. So might the president of the United States. At least two Republican members of Congress have called on Pruitt to quit.

Here’s my favorite: Donald Trump has issued a tepid endorsement of Pruitt. And you know how those endorsements usually end up. Trump endorsed former White House strategist Stephen Bannon: gone. He did the same thing for former national security adviser H.R. McMaster: gone.

Trump’s statements of support are worth, oh, just about nothing. Which makes them worth just as much as damn near anything the president says in public, out loud, on the record.

Pruitt is a lousy choice to lead the EPA, even without this latest matter involving a serious breach of ethics.

Get him out of there, Mr. President.

EPA boss joins the ethical fray

Oh, my. The Donald J. Trump administration simply is the gift that keeps on giving.

The treasury secretary and his wife get dinged because of their spendy lifestyle; the president himself is under scrutiny over allegations that he might be violating the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. Constitution, the one that says he cannot profit personally while in office; the health secretary quits because of spendthrift habits.

Now the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is being examined because he rents an apartment from the energy lobbyist.

Sheesh, man!

It’s bad enough that Pruitt has turned environmental protection into a sort of code for environmental destruction because of his penchant for rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations. Now there are accusations that he’s a sort of grifter, living off the good graces of people and interests with a direct tie to the policies the EPA is supposed to implement.

I’ve long thought that Pruitt was a bad fit an agency charged with protecting the environment. As Oklahoma attorney general, he made it his mission to sue the federal government constantly over rules and regulations intended to preserve and protect the only planet on which we live.

Then this guy disputes openly whether climate change is even occurring, let alone arguing that it isn’t likely caused by human beings, which of course runs counter to scientific analysis handed down over many years of study and research.

On top of all that … there are concerns about the EPA boss’s spending habits. He employs a huge security detail. CNN.com is reporting that “sources” suggest the rash of negative publicity is undermining him terribly and that his “goose is cooked.”

Hmm. We’ll  see about that.

I do not expect, in the event Pruitt joins the long list of Trump officials to hit the road, that Donald Trump is going to find a competent replacement. It’s just the new normal the president has established.

Ugghh!

This just in: Global warming is bad!

Someone ought to remind Scott Pruitt what the initials “EPA” mean.

They stand for “Environmental Protection Agency.” The man who runs the EPA is charged with protecting the environment, with searching for ways to maintain the integrity of the surroundings where we live.

But Pruitt has now declared that global warming — aka “climate change” — isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I believe the former Oklahoma attorney general is mistaken. Yes, it is a bad thing. It’s a very bad thing, dude.

As near as I can tell, global warming produces a number of potential catastrophes. The ice caps on both poles melt, resulting in an inexorable rise in sea levels; the North Pole ice cap is a prime hunting ground for polar bears and if they can’t hunt seals and walruses, they can’t eat and they die of starvation; the rising sea levels endanger our coastal marshes and, oh yeah, they also threaten the many urban areas that have sprung up on coasts all around the world.

The EPA director seems all too willing to dismiss the potential dangers posed by this phenomenon.

I won’t argue the point about the cause of global warming. Whether it’s manmade — which I believe it is — or whether it’s part of Earth’s epochal cycle, it’s a bad thing.

Why can’t the man in charge of the federal agency that is supposed to protect our environment concentrate his energy and attention on his fundamental duty?

Protect the planet, Mr. EPA Director!

Is a political wave developing out there?

What do we make of the Democrats’ big wins for governor in New Jersey in Virginia?

OK, I’ll now lay out for you my extreme bias on the matter … as if you’re going to be surprised.

Phil Murphy’s win in New Jersey and Ralph Northam’s victory in Virginia sang to me. I was happy to see what I believe might be a wholesale rejection of Donald J. Trump’s effort to remake the Republican Party in his own seedy, isolationist, nativist image.

The president has hijacked the Republican Party. A man with zero political activity in his professional background ascended to the world’s most exalted office in 2016.

Republicans are reeling

Republicans now have to deal with the president’s lack of accomplishment as his first year in office approaches. GOP prospects for enacting “tax reform” now appear to be in serious jeopardy.

What’s more, Republicans now are beginning to lament out loud that the 2018 midterm election for both houses of Congress bodes grimly for their chances of retaining control of the legislative branch of government.

To which I say … cry me a river.

I am not the least bit concerned about Republicans’ political prospects. Given that we all have our bias, I’ll lay out my own.

I want Democrats to do well next year to rein in the Republican-led stampede to undo what Donald Trump’s immediate predecessor as president, Barack Obama, sought to implement.

The Affordable Care Act needs refinement and improvement, not repeal; the nation needs to do more, not less, to protect our environment; America must remain engaged in world affairs, working closely with our allies.

Trump’s agenda seeks to divide Americans and seeks to separate the world’s greatest nation from the rest of the planet. He has vowed to “put America first,” and pledged to “make America great again.”

Democrats have been handed a tailor-made theme on which to campaign against those who are running under the banner of the party that is led by the most unqualified, untruthful and unfit man elected to the presidency in the nation’s history.

Don’t hate me just because I have declared my bias. Those on the other side of the divide have their own bias, too.

Let’s have this debate … beginning right this minute.

Government endorses notion that humans cause climate change

It’s called the “gold standard” of environmental studies.

It comes from the U.S. government and it goes directly against the president of the United States, who calls climate change a “hoax.”

The U.S. National Climate Assessment blames human beings for accelerating the planet’s changing climate. Trump, meanwhile, continues to parrot the line of climate change deniers by disparaging that idea that Earth’s climate actually is changing.

What fascinates me is that the report came out on the eve of the president’s visit to China, which he has said is responsible for perpetrating this so-called hoax. What might he say to Chinese political leaders’ face were they to challenge him on his ridiculous assertion?

This, too, is worth noting: Syria has just signed on to the Paris Climate Accord, from which Trump withdrew the United States, citing an alleged negative impact on U.S. jobs. Think of that for a moment. Syria isn’t exactly an internationally known champion of environmental issues; meanwhile, the world’s leading and most powerful nation has backed out of an agreement signed on to by the rest of the planet.

The Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, is rolling back measures taken by the Obama administration. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, another climate change denier, insists that President Obama lacked the authority to implement changes mandating cleaner air requirements.

What one never seems to hear from Pruitt is any commitment to protect the environment, which the EPA’s title would appear to demand of the federal agency.

Why in the world can’t we get past the notion that Earth’s climate is changing? I am open to debating the cause, although the latest government study likely would put the kibosh on any serious debate over whether human activity is the primary catalyst behind the planet’s changing climate.

Climate change is the real thing

Rising sea levels present a serious challenge to the entire planet. Same for the increasing ferocity of storms. Meteorologists tell us annually that the planet’s median temperature is increasing.

Can we stop the impact of all these elements? We cannot know the answer if we keep denying what is becoming painfully obvious.

Earth’s climate is changing. It is long past time we got busy trying to stem the damage that’s being done to the only planet we have.