Ronald Reagan

What Next for the EPA? Here's What Reagan Did

Read time: 6 mins
Rep. Dan Kildee speaking at an EPA protest in DC
By Seema Kakade and Robert Percival, University of Maryland

Scott Pruitt’s resignation as EPA administrator caught many by surprise because President Donald Trump had repeatedly supported Pruitt’s efforts to dismantle environmental protections and the agency itself. But it is not without historical precedent.

During the first two years of President Ronald Reagan’s administration, both EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch and Interior Secretary James Watt were forced out due to scandals. The question now is who should replace Pruitt.

From Scandals to Secrecy, the Curious Similarities Between Trump’s and Reagan’s EPA

Read time: 8 mins
EPA chief Scott Pruitt

The Environmental Protection Agency's chief, a science skeptic with a taste for luxury goods, entered office hellbent on slashing government red tape — but slowly became embroiled in scandal over alleged mishandling of government funds amid extraordinary efforts to keep the activities of a public agency secret.

Not Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration's current EPA chief: Anne Gorsuch Burford, who ran the EPA under Reagan from 1981 to 1983, and resigned after being cited for contempt of Congress following a scandal involving document shredding, secrecy, and the Superfund.

A year into Pruitt's tenure at EPA, some of the parallels between the two are striking.

Why Trump's EPA Is Far More Vulnerable to Attack Than Reagan's or Bush's

Read time: 6 mins
Smoke from smokestacks above cars lining a Cleveland road in 1973

By Walter Rosenbaum, University of Florida

For people concerned with environmental protection, including many EPA employees, there is broad agreement: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in deep trouble. The Conversation

The Trump administration has begun the third, most formidable White House-led attempt in EPA’s brief history to diminish the agency’s regulatory capacity.

Now Under Attack, EPA’s Work on Climate Change Has Been Going on for Decades

Read time: 6 mins
Factory smokestack releasing clouds of pollution

By , University of Oregon

The Trump administration intends to roll back two pillars of the Obama administration’s climate policy — regulations to limit carbon emissions from vehicles and power plants.

Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency was central to these regulations. But new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said he plans to return the agency to its “core mission” of ensuring clean air and clean water, rather than addressing climate change.

Trump Economic Adviser "Pushing" for Climate Denier and Fossil Fuel Apologist to Head EPA

Read time: 7 mins
Kathleen Hartnett White

Stephen Moore — economic adviser for Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign — recently told Politico's Morning Energy that he is “pushing” to have a climate change denier and fossil fuel promoter, Kathleen Hartnett White, named as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if Trump is elected president in November.

George Bush Sr Cabinet Was Worried About Climate Change 27 Years Ago

Read time: 4 mins

The agreement that was hammered out in Paris at the recent climate talks will be a great step forward towards addressing the growing threat of climate change. But lost amongst the applause for the accord is a question that needs to be answered: Why did it take so long, and are we too late?

Two weeks ago, memos from the George H.W. Bush administration were released that detailed conversations between Bush Sr.’s cabinet members, where they discussed the growing threat of global climate change…27 years ago.

The Hill has posted parts of those conversations:

Judges Nixing Keystone XL South Cases Had Tar Sands-Related Oil Investments

Read time: 7 mins

On August 4, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 10th Circuit shot down the Sierra Club's petition for rehearing motion for the southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline. The decision effectively writes the final chapter of a years-long legal battle in federal courts. 

But one of the three judges who made the ruling, Bobby Ray Baldock — a Ronald Reagan nominee — has tens of thousands of dollars invested in royalties for oil companies with a major stake in tar sands production in Alberta.  And his fellow Reagan nominee in the Western District of Oklahoma predecessor case, David Russell, also has skin in the oil investments game.  

The disclosures raise questions concerning legal objectivity, or potential lack thereof, for the Judges. They also raise questions about whether these Judges — privy to sensitive and often confidential legal details about oil companies involved in lawsuits in a Court located in the heart and soul of oil country — overstepped ethical bounds. 

These findings from a DeSmog investigation precede President Barack Obama's expected imminent decision on the northern, border-crossing leg of Keystone XL.

James Hansen: 'I Thought There Would Be a Rational Response'

Read time: 5 mins

Scientists were warning about the dangers of climate change even before America discovered and used oil on an industrial scale. Here, in the second of three posts, we see how in the 1980s it appeared politicians would rise to the challenges it presents…

James Hansen was the first scientist to detect the current rise in global temperatures, but he certainly was not the first to understand the effect greenhouse gases have on global temperatures.

It was well understood for centuries that without carbon dioxide, the Earth would be too cold to maintain life as we know it. Warnings about climate change in fact predate the discovery of oil.

In 1824, Joseph Fourier discovered the “greenhouse effect” and explained how heat from the sun is trapped in the Earth's atmosphere. In 1861, the Irish scientist John Tyndall confirmed different gases in the atmospheresuch as carbon dioxidecould change the temperature of the planet.

How Partisan is Climate Denial?

Read time: 5 mins

It was the chief environmental narrative of the 2010 midterm elections. The field of Republican Senate and House challengers, charged bloggers, were a bunch of “climate zombies.” Tea Party backed insurgents were knocking off GOP moderates who took climate science seriously—like Delaware’s Mike Castle—and it was becoming harder and harder to find a good Republican who did accept the scientific consensus on climate change.

Then, when Republicans swept into the House of Representatives, fears about the party’s denialist tendencies compounded further. There was word of “ClimateGate” hearings, aimed at prying loose additional emails and documents from mainstream global warming researchers. Whether or not such hearings actually take place, a vision of today’s U.S. Republican Party as monolithically in denial about what we’ve been doing to the planet has clearly taken root.

It was all, apparently, more than the stalwart Republican moderate Sherwood (“Sherry”) Boehlert could take.

Conservative group's ads ask Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh audience: What would Reagan do about climate change?

Read time: 4 mins

Radio ads airing in New Hampshire during the Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck shows ask the question “What would Reagan do” about climate change? 

Despite the anti-environmental rants typically emanating from the right wing’s favorite media darlings Beck and Limbaugh, the new ad campaign launched by Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP) seeks to remind conservatives that stewardship, including action to address climate change, is consistent with true conservative values.

The ads feature a Reagan quote that few Republicans would likely recognize as coming from the mouth of the Gipper:
“If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”  - Ronald Reagan, July 11, 1984

The ads started running in New Hampshire last week and will run in other states in the coming weeks as REP takes the issue straight into the lion’s den by targeting the audiences of the two well-recognized mouthpieces of the Right in the U.S. 

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