U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Pruitt's 'Transparency' Rule Would Use Big Tobacco Plan to Gut EPA Science

Scott Pruitt

Note from the editor: On April 24, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt released a proposed rule that would restrict which scientific studies EPA could use in creating new regulations. The move — already controversial when it was first revealed over a month ago — would prevent EPA from considering studies in which the data is not available to the public, including the private health information of individuals in medical studies, and which is based on one-time events, such as the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Prominent climate science deniers were in attendance at the EPA announcement, including Marc Morano, Steve Milloy, and Will Happer

Buried, Altered, Silenced: 4 Ways Government Climate Information Has Changed Since Trump Took Office

March for Science sign reading 'Science matters bigly'

By Morgan Currie, Stanford University and Britt S. Paris, University of California, Los Angeles

After Donald Trump won the presidential election, hundreds of volunteers around the U.S. came together to “rescue” federal data on climate change, thought to be at risk under the new administration. “Guerilla archivists,” including ourselves, gathered to archive federal websites and preserve scientific data.

But what has happened since? Did the data vanish?

Exxon Refinery Catches Fire Day After Government Settles Over Pollution From Other Gulf Plants

ExxonMobil’s refinery and chemical plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Early morning skies Wednesday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were alight from a fire that started around 2:30 a.m. at an ExxonMobil refinery. The blaze, though contained before the sun came up, is a reminder to the surrounding community of yet another danger of living next to refineries and chemical plants.

Exxon’s refinery is located along the stretch of Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans known as “Cancer Alley” due to the high number of chemical plants and refineries — and illnesses possibly connected to emissions — along the river’s banks.

It's Official: Trump Administration to Repeal Clean Power Plan

Scott Pruitt at the White House

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

The Trump administration will scrap the Clean Power Plan (CPP), President Obama's signature environmental policy aimed at fighting climate change, confirming earlier reports of such a move.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said at an event in Kentucky he will sign a proposed rule on Tuesday “to withdraw the so-called clean power plan of the past administration.”

History Shows That Stacking Federal Science Advisory Committees Doesn't Work

Deepwater Horizon oil rig on fire

By Donald Boesch, University of Maryland

Scientists are busy people, but every year thousands donate many hours of their time without payment to advise Congress and federal government agencies. They provide input on all kinds of issues, from antibiotic resistance to mapping the world’s oceans in three dimensions.

The Trump administration has raised alarms by signaling that it is determined to replace scientific advisers who are not in line with its political philosophy. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is replacing most of the members of EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors and, very likely, its Science Advisory Board. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has suspended the activities of numerous advisory panels, including many scientific committees, pending review of their purpose and composition.

Will Trump Cabinet members really be able to shift the scientific advice on which their agencies rely? And how should scientists respond?

Cleaning up Toxic Sites Shouldn't Clear out the Neighbors

San Francisco's Pier 70, a brownfield site, with a smokestack in the background

By Lindsey Dillon, University of California, Santa Cruz

San Francisco has embarked on a project to transform its industrial southeast waterfront into a bike-friendly destination called the Blue Greenway. When completed, the Blue Greenway will be a 13-mile network of parks, bike lanes and trails along the southeastern edge of the city.

Among its many benefits, the project creates green space and waterfront access in the low-income Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. The Blue Greenway is part of a larger transformation of Bayview Hunters Point. This older, neglected neighborhood is still full of vacant lots and a large, abandoned naval base, but it is becoming a landscape of hip townhomes and new coffee shops. Its transformation includes the complicated cleanup of many toxic waste sites — most notoriously, a military radiation lab on the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

The Blue Greenway project cleans up toxic land along its route with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program, which supports the cleanup and reuse of contaminated sites. Brownfield redevelopment projects like the Blue Greenway are intended to bring environmental and economic benefits to run-down urban areas. And yet, as I have found in my own research, they can also contribute to gentrification and economic displacement.

Former Obama EPA Official Now Lobbying for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Gas pipeline being laid into the ground

This is a guest post by  and originally appeared on LittleSis.org.

A new disclosure by Dominion shows that a long-time employee for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now lobbying for the controversial Atlantic Coast pipeline (ACP).

Laura Vaught is Dominion’s Federal Affairs Policy Advisor, a position she began in March 2017.

One Community’s Fight for Clean Air in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

Denka's chloroprene plant in Louisiana

It doesn’t take carefully calibrated measurements to realize there is something wrong with the air around the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. 

From a small plane, I photographed the petrochemical manufacturing facility, until recently owned by DuPont, noting its proximity to the community around its fence line. The emissions were horrible. Breathing them while circling the plant twice left me with a headache that lingered for hours.

The surrounding communities and I were inhaling emissions of chloroprene and 28 other chemicals, which the plant uses to make the synthetic rubber commonly known as Neoprene.

My Congressman Is Trying to Abolish the EPA

Email from Rep. Gaetz asking whether constituents support abolishing EPA

On November 8, 2016, Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was elected to his first term in Congress, representing Florida’s 1st District. This happens to be the district that I have called home for my entire life.

The first piece of legislation he introduced as a federal representative was to completely abolish the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by December 31, 2018.

“Completely abolish” is not an exaggeration or an overstatement — that is what the bill is designed to do. The summary of the legislation simply states: “This bill terminates the Environmental Protection Agency on December 31, 2018.”

While Rep. Gaetz is standing by his bill, that doesn't mean his constituents or colleagues are crazy about it, or that it's realistic.

Congressional Energy and Climate Committees Are Loaded with Ex-Fossil Fuel Lobbyists

U.S. Capitol building

Though the U.S. Congress has been in session for two months, much of the policy action which has taken place since Donald Trump assumed the presidency on January 20 has centered around his Executive Orders.

As some have pointed out, Trump's first speech in front of a joint session of Congress on February 28 can be seen as a reset moment, with the clock ticking on Republicans to deliver on promises made to voters in the 2016 election. In the energy and environment sphere, those efforts will likely center around gutting climate and environmental protections, and much of it will be carried out by congressional committee staffers. 

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that many Republican staff members on key committees are former fossil fuel industry lobbyists, which could help fast-track the industry's legislative agenda in the weeks and months ahead. In total, 15 staffers on the eight main energy and environment congressional committees previously worked as industry lobbyists on behalf of oil, gas, mining, coal, petrochemical, and electric utility interests. 

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