Tag Archives: EPA

RIP, William Ruckelshaus

They buried a Republican champion the other day, a man whose obituary contains a direct reference to his political heroism during a dark, scandalous time in U.S. history.

William Ruckelshaus died at age 87 at his Seattle home.

This man was an amazing, principled public servant who stood tall during the Watergate scandal. He was the nation’s deputy attorney general who, when his boss — AG Elliot Richardson quit while refusing to obey a presidential order — also exhibited supreme courage in following Richardson’s lead.

President Nixon was being swallowed up by the Watergate scandal. In 1973, Congress confirmed Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor to examine the evidence about whether the cover-up extended into the White House. Nixon pledged that Cox would be fully independent, that he could be fired only for malfeasance.

Cox began to get close to Nixon, who then ordered the AG to fire him; Richardson refused. Then the deputy AG got the order; Ruckelshaus quit. It fell, then, to Solicitor General Robert Bork to do what the president demanded.

The Saturday Night Massacre, as the resignations have come to be known, has become etched indelibly into American political lore. William Ruckelshaus stands as a giant man of principle among the key players in that drama.

It is his courage under political fire that is so terribly missing these days, particularly among those who comprise what is left of the Republican Party.

Ruckelshaus, moreover, was the founding director of the Environmental Protection Agency, which the Nixon administration created in 1970. Ruckelshaus was wedded to the idea of protecting our planet. That, too, remains high on his legacy of public service accomplishment.

If only this good man’s political descendants could rip a page from his Book of High Principle and adhere to the courage that William Ruckelshaus demonstrated in a time of political peril.

So very thankful for news out of Golden Triangle

I have been watching the news out of Mid-Jefferson County, Texas, with great interest and keen anticipation.

A refinery in Port Neches exploded and caught fire this week. My wife and I have many friends in that part of Texas, owing to the time we lived in nearby Beaumont for nearly 11 years.

I am grateful beyond measure that no one died in that horrific blast and inferno. My jaw has dropped when I watched video of the explosion that propelled large pieces of debris into the air. I am stunned not only that no one died, but that only a handful of folks suffered what officials have called “minor” injuries caused by flying glass.

The best news is that firefighters have controlled the blaze, giving me a chance to offer high praise yet again for the first responders who have this uncanny ability — not to mention willingness — to thrust themselves into harm’s way.

I hear reports now about the plant that exploded being in violation of Environmental Protection Agency safety standards. That issue needs maximum attention, to be sure, if there will be any chance of that plant being brought back into full operation.

Until then I am merely going to offer a word of thanks and expression of relief that our friends are safe.

Trump now wants to kill off endangered species?

This is far from a flash, but here goes anyway: Donald John Trump is off his ever-lovin’ rocker.

The Trump administration now wants to seriously weaken a 1973 law — signed by a Republican president — that helped save several valuable species of wildlife from extinction.

Yep, Donald Trump is taking dead aim at the Endangered Species Act. He wants to weaken provisions that allow for the protection of these species. He claims the regulations are too burdensome.

According to Smithsonian.com: The new rules also impose limitations on how threats are assessed. Officials used to take into account factors that could harm species in the “foreseeable future,” but now lawmakers have more discretion in deciding what “foreseeable future” should mean. So they may choose to disregard climate factors—like rising sea levels and extreme heat—that will likely impact species several decades from now.

President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law in 1973. At the time of its enactment, species such as the American alligator and the bald eagle were in serious trouble. Their numbers had plummeted. The eagle had suffered terribly by consuming fish that were poisoned by DDT. The alligator had been hunted to near extinction along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Trump endangers the Endangered Species Act

So what in the world is this president trying to do? Why on God’s cherished Earth does this man seek to endanger wildlife that has become part of the American landscape. Consider, too, that the Endangered Species Act helped save the creature that symbolizes the nation itself: the bald eagle!

The Trump administration continues to make moves it aims to help industry, with little or no regard to the consequences they might deliver to God’s cherished creatures.

This is the mindset of an administration led by someone with zero interest — let alone knowledge — of matters he cannot comprehend.

Protecting wildlife? Hah!

Happy Earth Day!

This is the third Earth Day we have noted since Donald Trump became president.

Yes, the two elements are related.

There used to be a time when presidents of both parties would salute efforts to save our planet from ourselves. Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and immediately began dismantling environmental regulations and removing this country from a key worldwide environmental initiative.

He pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. Then he knocked aside rules and regulations limiting carbon emissions; he has sought to open up public land to fossil fuel exploration; he has downplayed the exploration of alternative energy sources; Trump dismisses openly the effects of climate change.

Despite all of that, the sun rose this morning. It will set tonight. The cycle will continue.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the president continues to ignore the cause of climate change/global warming. He calls it a “hoax.” It is no such thing. It’s real. It needs to be dealt with seriously. We need presidential leadership to take command.

It was on the watch of President Nixon, a Republican, that the nation formed the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Republicans and Democrats for most of the time since then have embraced the EPA’s mission.

Is this the end of life as we know it? No. However, we need to pay attention to what’s happening out there. Earth’s temperatures are rising; the polar ice caps at both ends of the planet are shrinking; polar habitat is endangered; storms are becoming more frequent and more ferocious; human beings who live along our coasts are imperiled.

We have to care for this planet. It’s only one we have.

Happy Earth Day . . . even to you, Mr. President.

Let’s confront the ‘existential threat’: climate change

Newly installed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid a number of key issues on the line today moments after taking the gavel.

One of them is what she described as the most dangerous “existential threat” facing the nation: climate change.

Pelosi pledged to bring climate change back to the front of the nation’s attention, to the top of our national mind.

It has been pushed aside by Republicans who formerly ran the House, by those who continue to run the Senate and by the individual who sits in the Oval Office, Donald Trump, the president of the United States.

Trump has called climate change — formerly known colloquially as “global warming” — a “hoax.” His allies in Congress have bought into the Trump mantra. The president selected a key climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, to run the Environmental Protection Agency; another such denier, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is now the energy secretary; still another denier, Ryan Zinke, has just left his post as interior secretary.

Pelosi clearly understands what most Americans understand, that Earth’s climate is changing and the change is due largely because of massive amounts of carbon emissions being thrown into the atmosphere. That phenomenon, coupled with deforestation, is warming the planet’s temperature; the polar ice caps are melting; sea levels are rising; communities along our seas, gulfs and oceans are being placed in dire peril — not to mention what it’s doing to wildlife habitat.

Pelosi pledged today to return climate change to the front of the line. I wish her well. Whether this discussion produces legislation and a restoration of regulations aimed at curbing those emissions remain to be seen. The GOP still runs the Senate. The Republican president is still in office.

Whatever it is worth, and I hope it’s worth more than it might seem, Pelosi has the public on her side. Whether that’s enough to, um, turn the tide fills me with a bit of hope that this nation might take a proactive stance against this existential threat.

Government endorses notion that humans cause climate change

Longing for a return of bipartisan ceremony

I cannot remember the last time I saw a president posing for pictures with politicians of both major political parties.

You remember those days, right? President Lyndon Johnson signed landmark civil rights legislation into law, and handed pens out to Republicans and Democrats gathered around him.

President Richard Nixon did the same thing with, say, creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Same with President Ronald Reagan as he signed significant tax legislation.

President Bill Clinton worked hand in glove with Republican congressional leaders to balance the federal budget and both sides sought to take credit for that noble achievement. Fine. Let ’em!

I remember the time not long after 9/11 when GOP President George W. Bush embraced Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle on the floor of the House after delivering a speech that called the nation to arms after the terror attacks.

These days, presidents are photographed only with pols of their own parties. President Barack Obama would be photographed at bill signings only with Democrats. The current president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, meets almost exclusively with Republicans and wouldn’t be caught dead sharing space with Democrats.

Legislating is a team sport. Teamwork often requires pols of both parties to work together.

We see so little of it these days, and indeed over the course of at least two presidential administrations. Republicans and Democrats have declared the other guys to be the enemy. They aren’t just mere opponents.

It’s a toxic time in Washington, D.C. It is threatening to poison the system for far longer than can possibly benefit the cause of good government.

Pruitt’s gone, but EPA’s mission remains intact

I was among the millions of Americans who cheered the news that Scott Pruitt had resigned as Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

His corruption and utter lack of ethical conduct became unbearable. I also am astounded that he didn’t get the boot long ago. Then again, he did work in an administration led by Donald John Trump Sr., so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised.

OK, so Scott Pruitt is gone.

Is that reason to continue cheering? Hardly. EPA remains an agency under siege. Donald Trump has declared climate change to be a “hoax” concocted by China and other economic powers that want to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

To think for a moment or two that such idiocy comes from a man who admits that he doesn’t read much. He relies on TV news talk shows to inform him. He once said he knows “more about ISIS than the generals.”

So, the president who denies the existence of climate change is able to appoint EPA bosses who adhere to his nonsensical point of view. That’s what he did when he asked Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who took great delight in suing the Obama administration over environmental rules and regulations.

It might be that Trump — who likely didn’t even know Pruitt when he selected him — was unaware he was appointing an ethical slug to run the EPA.

The man in charge of EPA at this moment is deputy administrator Andrew Wheeler, who comes from the coal industry. I don’t know much about Wheeler, so I cannot comment directly about what he’ll do. I feel comfortable, though, in believing that if he signs on to run the EPA in a Donald Trump administration, he likely adheres to the climate change view espoused by the Big Man.

Am I still cheering Scott Pruitt’s departure from EPA?

Not any longer.

What? Trump lied — again! — about Pruitt resignation?

The Liar in Chief has done it again.

He said former Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt resigned all on his own. It was “100 percent” Pruitt’s decision, said Donald John Trump.

Oops! Now comes Bloomberg News to report that the president sent Pruitt a message via White House chief of staff John Kelly that he wanted the EPA boss to quit. Pruitt reportedly was devastated by the request, according to Bloomberg, which reported that Pruitt had no intention of quitting — until he got the word from Kelly.

To be honest, I am glad the president asked Pruitt to go. He should have done it weeks — maybe months — ago. Pruitt had been eaten alive before our eyes by scandal after scandal. Questions were being raised almost weekly about this or that extravagant expense, or allegation of conflict of interest.

Why, though, must he lie about the EPA boss’s resignation? Why does he insist that Pruitt was doing a “great job” when he wasn’t? And why does he look the other way publicly at the questions about Pruitt’s conduct?

If he did ask Pruitt to quit, then he ought to acknowledge it.

Liars, though, cannot tell the truth. No matter how badly the lie makes them look.

Pruitt shows sickening fealty to POTUS

Scott Pruitt is gone as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The myriad ethical scandals overtook him. I’ve already commented on that. With this post, though, I want to offer a brief look at the sickening letter of resignation that Pruitt sent to Donald J. Trump.

So help me, Pruitt didn’t understand something about the job he occupied. Which is that he worked for you me. He didn’t work exclusively for the president. Yet his letter speaks of how “God’s providence” helped elect Trump.

His letter says in part: My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people. I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people.

Good grief.

It’s the kind of fealty that Trump demands of those who join his administration. To that end, Pruitt fulfilled his charge.

The rest of us paid the price.

Scott Pruitt had no business caring for the nation’s environment. He exhibited little interest in environmental protection. Instead, he demonstrated time and again a commitment to his own creature comfort.

He worked for us, not for the man who selected him for the job.

Finally! Pruitt calls it quits

Scott Pruitt is out.

What in the world took so damn long for the Environmental Protection Agency head to hit the road? He had been buried under a mountain of scandals relating to ethical conduct, excessive spending and conflict of interest.

It was bad enough that the former Oklahoma attorney general was stripping the EPA of its “protection” rules and regulations under the guise of saving jobs. He was fulfilling the charge handed down by Donald J. Trump.

The other stuff relating to the conflicts of interests, high-end spending, wasteful policies, and a flouting of ethical standards was just too much.

I guess I have to give some credit to the young woman who confronted Pruitt the other day at the D.C. restaurant, challenging him to resign.

Perhaps he heeded her more than he let on.

Donald Trump vowed to “drain the swamp.” Pruitt, however, became the administration’s Swamp Creature. All the questions over his ethical conduct made it impossible for this man to stay in office.

Finally, we have some good news to report from the Trump administration. I fear it’ll be short-lived, given that the president’s mission to dismantle EPA’s rules aimed at protecting the environment remains intact.