Tag Archives: EPA

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.

 

Let’s call it ‘Environmental Destruction Agency’

Scott Pruitt long has been known as a friend of the oil industry. He denies the existence of climate change. Pruitt is no friend of the environment.

So, what does Donald John Trump do? He puts this guy, the former Oklahoma attorney general, in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Now the EPA boss is showing his chops, as if there was any doubt. He is revoking protection of an Alaska salmon fishery, one of the most valuable in the world. He has met with a mining company executive who wants to start mining within the bounds of that fishery.

I hereby propose we rename the EPA. Let’s call it the Environmental Destruction Agency. Shall we?

The Bristol Bay Watershed was placed under federal protection by the Obama administration, which concluded that any mining or other industrial activity would destroy the fish habitat that is so valuable to fishing interests, sportsmen and women and consumers who enjoy the taste of salmon.

Barack Obama leaves office. Donald Trump takes over. Then the new president installs this guy Pruitt, who has met with Tom Collier, CEO of Pebble Limited Partnership, a mining outfit that wants to work within the watershed.

Pruitt continues to play footsie with interests that have little interest in environmental protection.

I’m quite sure Collier never would admit to wanting to destroy the fishery or the watershed. The Obama administration took three years of review to decide to set the watershed aside. It determined that any mining within the watershed would destroy permanently a resource upon which so many people rely.

Pruitt, though, appears to have decided that protecting the watershed isn’t in the national interest.

How about changing the name of the EPA to the Environmental Destruction Agency?

Sad.

Why deny the obvious about the climate?

Donald J. Trump must know more about climate change than the scientists do … kind of like he knows “more about ISIS than the generals.”

A report from The Hill newspaper reports that the president has surrounded himself with those who deny the existence of climate change, those who disbelieve the overwhelming scientific consensus that Earth’s climate is changing and that the planet’s temperatures are rising.

Scott Pruitt, for example, runs the Environmental Protection Agency after serving as Oklahoma attorney general and suing the daylights out of EPA over rules and regulations designed to, um, protect the environment.

I’m baffled by the idea that the president can deny what appears to be obvious. Polar ice is melting; the annual mean temperature is rising around the world; sea levels are threatening to rise to dangerous levels.

The only debate appears to be its cause. Manmade or natural terrestrial evolution. I happen to believe human activity at a minimum has exacerbated the problem. But that’s just me.

Suppose, though, it is a function of Earth’s natural cycle. What are we human beings supposed to do? Do we just do nothing? Do we not seek to abate some of the impact? Do we simply keep pouring carbon dioxide into the sky, cut gigantic swaths of forestland?

Human non-intervention, in my mind, is intolerable.

If the planet’s evolutionary cycle is going to do what it does, why must be sit idly by and do nothing?

Pruitt wants to have a public national public debate on climate change. I’m actually OK with that. What I’m not OK with is dawdling over whether human beings should take action to stop what’s happening to the only planet we can call home.

Climate change? Is it really and truly a ‘hoax’?

Believe it or disbelieve it if you wish. When the water recedes along the Texas Gulf Coast and when authorities can account for all the victims and the repair begins to reconstruct thousands of shattered lives from Corpus Christi to the Golden Triangle, there will be a need for a serious discussion.

We’ll need to discuss climate change.

As this item is being posted, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has just buried the Texas coast under more than 51 inches of rain. It’s the largest single-event amount of rain ever to fall on the continental United States of America. More is on the way.

For the life of me I am having difficulty understanding where all that water is going to go. The topography along the Gulf Coast is flat; the ground is full of water even when the air is dry; the land rises to a “height” of roughly 30 feet above sea level, meaning that the water isn’t going to travel rapidly toward the Gulf of Mexico or seep quickly into the ground.

The normal “steering currents” that guide these hurricanes over land didn’t materialize with Harvey. The storm crashed ashore and then stayed there. It then backed out over the Gulf of Mexico and is set to deliver another deluge farther up the coast.

It’s fair to ask: Did climate change — or global warming — contribute to this catastrophe?

The Gulf already is one of the warmest bodies of salt water on Earth. Its temperature reportedly was even warmer than it is historically, giving Harvey additional fuel to gather up to deliver to the victims awaiting the storm’s arrival.

Climate change deniers do not contribute to the discussion that needs to take place. The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, denies the existence of climate change. So does the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who calls it a “hoax.”

It is not a hoax, Mr. President. It’s real.

We can debate among ourselves about the cause of the changing climate. I happen to believe that human activity has contributed to it, but that’s just my opinion … for whatever the hell it’s worth.

We must not deny the existence of a change in Earth’s climate, or that the planet’s annual average temperature is warming up. These events have consequences. They are dire. They are tragic.

We’ll need to get to work in due course to put people’s lives back together after the storm clouds lift. The sun will shine again.

However, let us then take part in a meaningful international discussion about how humankind can repair what it has done to the only planet we have.

Manmade or cyclical climate change? Doesn’t matter!

Let’s set aside for a moment the debate over whether Earth’s changing climate is the result of human activity or it’s just part of the epochal cycle the planet goes through every few thousand millennia.

I happen to think human beings do play a big part in it. That’s just me.

The bigger issue of the day is this: It doesn’t matter one damn bit!

Whether the planet’s climate is warming because of carbon emissions or deforestation or whether it’s part of Earth’s life cycle, human beings need to do something about it.

Now! Although it might too late.

The Trump administration has just informed the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, joining those two other stalwart nations that didn’t sign the accords in the first place: Nicaragua and Syria.

Earth’s temperature is rising. Sea levels are rising, too. Indeed, the levels will rise even more once a glacier the size of Delaware melts into the ocean; the iceberg broke off of Antarctica recently.

Climate change deniers — led by the current head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — insist that there’s nothing we can, or should, do to abate those changes. We have members of our Congress who suggest that since human activity isn’t the cause that human beings shouldn’t be held responsible to slow it down, if not stop it altogether.

The president of the United States calls climate change/global warming a “hoax” perpetrated by China and other great powers seeking to intimidate the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

I keep coming back to a simple, fundamental point: Whatever the cause — cyclical or at human hands — we human beings are the dominant life form on Planet Earth. Old Testament scripture instructs us to “fill the Earth and govern it.”

So, are we going to govern it or are we going to just sit back and let nature’s forces have their way?

Yes, I know that human beings cannot match nature’s power. I know we cannot change the flow of the rivers, or stem the tides that will rise no matter what we do to prevent it.

Human beings, though, can insist we stop decimating our forests, depriving the planet of vegetation that oxygenates our atmosphere; without it, the air fills with CO2 and, by design, grows warmer. It’s that simple.

Will any of that prevent Earth’s climate from changing? Probably not. However, it is better to seek to do something than to do nothing at all. That’s what good stewards of the world we inherited must do.

Great jobs report, but what has POTUS done … exactly?

The U.S. Labor Department chimed in this morning with a stellar jobs report for July.

The nation added 209,000 payroll jobs. The unemployment rate fell from 4.4 percent to 4.3 percent. It’s good news. The economy is on the move, as it has been for some time now.

Donald J. Trump, as expected, took credit for the great jobs report. Yes, the president should be thrilled and happy with them. I welcome the good news as much as he does.

He said he’s “only just begun” to bring back more American jobs.

My question, though, is this: What, precisely, has the president done to generate the stellar jobs numbers?

Legislative accomplishment? None. We haven’t overhauled the tax system. Congress hasn’t acted on the president’s infrastructure revitalization plan. It hasn’t tossed out and replaced the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rolled back many of regulations enacted in prior administrations, but have those actions produced — by themselves — these big job numbers? Umm. No.

Take credit, Mr. President, if you wish. You are entitled to all the credit you deserve — which is some, but nearly as much as you seem to suggest.

Does POTUS believe climate change is a hoax?

Donald J. Trump campaigned for the presidency on the heels of a series of outrageous assertions.

One of them involved climate change.

This individual would travel around the country and declare that climate change is a “hoax” — perpetrated by nations such as China. He would buck the consensus developed by the worldwide scientific community. Many scientists, including more than a few Nobel laureates, have concluded that Earth’s climate is changing, the temperature is warming — and that humankind is largely responsible for the change.

Polar ice caps are shrinking; animal habitats are being threatened; rampant development is ridding the world of millions of acres of forestland; yes, sea levels are rising and vast expanses of coastline around the world are being threatened.

A hoax? I don’t think so.

So the president pulls the United States out of the Paris Accord meant to unite the world’s nations in the fight against the changing climate. He wants to “make America great again.” How does this move accomplish that? By taking the world’s greatest nation out of the global discussion?

The president keeps harping on jobs, how regulations rob Americans of jobs. He never mentions all the jobs being created by the development of alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear power.

Trump yaps about bringing back the coal industry, about boosting the production of petroleum. He rolls back environmental regulations with the blessing — and this is hard to stomach — of the Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

And yet, when the media keep asking the president’s representatives about whether he still believes climate change is a hoax, they won’t answer. They hem and haw, they bob and weave, they won’t provide a direct answer to a direct question.

I’ll ask again here: Does the president still insist that all the evidence we are witnessing in real time is a hoax, a figment of our imagination?

EPA boss seeks to boost oil allies … but at what cost?

It might be that two decades ago, I would be committing heresy by espousing energy development that does not emphasize oil and natural gas.

Not so these days. The Texas Panhandle — indeed much of West Texas — is sprouting wind farms faster than spring dandelions. Wind is a clean source of renewable energy. Yes, it’s expensive to produce, but those who produce it must find ways to keep the turbines turning at a price they can afford.

That all said, the Environmental Protection Agency is being run by a guy who is in the hip pocket of fossil fuel producers. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt once served as Oklahoma attorney general; he sued the daylights out of the EPA whenever he could.

Now he runs the agency.

A lengthy New York Times story published Sunday detailed how Pruitt’s work as AG benefitted companies such as Devon Energy, an Oklahoma-based fossil fuel producer.

Pruitt is overseeing a rolling back of EPA rules and regulations that are helping his good friends at Devon, according to the Times.

Here’s what I do not get: How is it that oil supposedly supersedes the production of clean energy alternatives? Pruitt seems to think the EPA needs to roll back regulations intended to mandate more fuel-efficiency, cleaner production of fuels that protect our air and water, and development of cleaner alternatives to coal and oil.

Pruitt and Donald Trump both bemoan what they insist is a “disastrous” energy policy. Is it? The United States has become the world’s leading producer of oil; the nation has reduced dramatically its dependence on imported oil; meanwhile, we have invested over the past eight years into development of wind and solar energy.

I must declare that I also support nuclear power as an alternative to oil production. Utility companies have gone many miles in the development of safer nuclear technology. Yes, disposal of nuclear waste is an issue, but its disposal can be done in an environmentally responsible manner.

The president’s Cabinet-level appointments have been, to say the very least, a mixed bag. I think he has more clunkers than winners in his Cabinet, although I do think a great deal of Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly; national security adviser H.R. McMaster also is a keeper.

EPA boss Pruitt, though, remains among the worst of Trump’s picks.

As the Times reported: “Mr. Trump and his team believe that loosening the regulatory grip on business will help the economy, create jobs and allow Americans ‘to share in the riches,’ as he said during the campaign. But in the energy field, environmentalists, Democrats and even some in the industry fear the efforts will backfire, harming health and safety without creating much economic benefit.”

Doesn’t the EPA boss know that the very title of the agency he leads requires him to “protect” the environment?

EPA boss leaves big footprint at his agency

Scott Pruitt has wasted little time in making his imprint on the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA director has ordered the removal of the “climate change” link on the agency’s website. That’s right. There’s no mention now of the planet’s changing climate, apparently because Pruitt doesn’t believe it’s occurring, or that it’s somehow part of nature’s cycle that cannot be manipulated by human activity.

This is a clear and present danger to our world.

EPA no longer in the “protection” business?

The EPA was created during the Nixon administration in 1970 to do as its title says clearly: to “protect the environment.” Pruitt, though, is a former Oklahoma state attorney general who made quite a bit of noise suing the EPA multiple times for the rules and regulations it imposes on businesses in its effort to do as its title says.

Pruitt acts as if he is no friend of the environment, although he surely declares that he is.

Why remove the link on the EPA website?

“We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law,” J.P. Freire, the EPA’s associate administrator for public affairs, said in a statement.

The timing of its removal also is a bit ironic. It came just before this weekend’s series of marches regarding the climate.

I know it’s weird to be talking about climate change/global warming on a day when snow is falling in late April on the High Plains of Texas. This kind of weather anomaly gives grist to climate change deniers who no doubt are relishing the very notion of snowfall so late into spring.

Yes, Mr. Administrator, the climate is changing

Of course, the deniers ignore the findings and the theories of a vast majority of scientists and other environmental experts who contend that human activity has contributed greatly to the warming of the planet. Deforestation and carbon emissions created by burning of fossil fuels has been labeled as the cause.

Polar ice caps are shrinking, sea levels are rising, worldwide average temperatures are increasing. Is the planet in peril?

We can discuss the cause of the changing climate. I’m open to that. What I find discouraging — and shameful — is the elimination of source material from the EPA’s website that allows that discussion to occur.