EPA

US Air Quality Improving but White House Looking to Reverse That Progress

Smokestacks emitting pollution

The American Lung Association (ALA) released its “State of the Air” report last week, and the organization found that air quality in U.S. cities has improved in the time period from 2012–2014. The ALA report specifically cites the increased air quality protections and emission reduction programs that first began popping up in the U.S. to improve air quality in the 1970s.

While overall air quality improved in the major cities studied in the report, the ALA did note that short periods of increased air particulate contamination existed in many areas. Furthermore, the ALA added that at least 166 million Americans are currently living in areas where the level of air contaminants exceeds safe limits.

The timing of this report is very important, as the group is hoping to use this information to convince the Trump administration not to repeal or otherwise weaken air quality standards enacted by the Obama administration.

Fossil Fuel Industry Steps in to Help Save Paris Climate Deal for All the Wrong Reasons

Money clenched in a person's hand

In May of 2016, six months before the U.S. presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump said that he would “cancel” the United States’ involvement in the Paris climate accord. Immediately following his election, however, Trump appeared to back-track slightly, saying he had “an open mind” about the agreement. And just this week, his administration canceled a much-hyped meeting to discuss the deal’s future in the U.S.

The back and forth from the administration likely stems from the fact that officials within it are split, with people like senior adviser Stephen Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt urging the president to withdraw from the deal, and people like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that the U.S. should remain in it.

Pressure to stay in the Paris agreement isn’t just coming from members of the White House, either. Polls show that 71 percent of the American public supports the deal, so pulling out would prove to be highly unpopular with American voters. But another faction is begging the president to keep the deal in place: American businesses and fossil fuel companies.

Destroying EPA Protections Will Disproportionately Hurt Children

Crying baby

President Donald Trump’s proposed 31 percent budget cut for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is devastating for anyone who isn’t financially connected to the fossil fuel industry. Reversing the course on projects that include reducing carbon emissions, protecting rivers and streams from industrial pollutants, and investments in renewable energy is not only bad for the planet, but it is a disaster for human health. And those most at risk of a potentially more toxic environment are children.

There are several reasons why children are more susceptible to pollution than adults, with the most obvious being that they spend more time outdoors and are more likely to come in direct contact with dirt, water, and plant life.

But the real danger to children lies in their biology.

Donald Trump Jeopardizes America’s Global Position By Reversing US Climate Policy

Donald Trump pointing at a rally

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, a common theme among the candidates was that the U.S. needed to scale back efforts to combat climate change because one country can’t go it alone. The candidates’ thoughts were that other countries were still polluting, so why should the U.S. “destroy our economy” to address climate change?

The only problem with this talking point is that it simply isn’t true. In fact, thanks to President Donald Trump’s decision to scale back some of the most aggressive climate protections enacted by former President Obama, the U.S. is now the country appearing to take a lackadaisical approach toward climate change.

Study: Natural Gas Power Plants Emit up to 120 Times More Methane Than Previously Estimated

Natural gas power plant

Researchers at Purdue University and the Environmental Defense Fund have concluded in a recent study that natural gas power plants release 21–120 times more methane than earlier estimates. 

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study also found that for oil refineries, emission rates were 11–90 times more than initial estimates. Natural gas, long touted as a cleaner and more climate-friendly alternative to burning coal, is obtained in the U.S. mostly via the controversial horizontal drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

The scientists measured air emissions at three natural gas-fired power plants and three refineries in Utah, Indiana, and Illinois using Purdue's flying chemistry lab, the Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR). They compared their results to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

Climate Change Denier Jim Inhofe Says EPA Is 'Brainwashing' Our Children

James Inhofe

In August 2016, Republican Senator and noted climate change denier Jim Inhofe told conservative radio host Eric Metaxas that children were being “brainwashed” into believing in climate change in school, and that we needed to “un-brainwash” them once they come out. This entire exchange (available here) arose from a conversation Inhofe claims to have had with his granddaughter because she dared ask him why he doesn’t believe in climate change.

On March 16, 2017, more than eight months after Inhofe told Metaxas about this alleged brainwashing scam, the Senator decided to double-down on his previous comments. He told CNN’s New Day that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was in the business of “brainwashing our kids” by releasing “propaganda” about climate change and the role that human beings are playing in the destruction of the planet.

Trump Takes Aim at Fuel Efficiency Requirements, Prompting Concern US Automakers Will Lag on Innovation

Donald Trump

In a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, Wednesday (March 15), President Donald Trump handed a victory to the oil industry, in a move that will have severe and long-lasting ramifications for the climate — and could leave American automakers lagging far behind in the emerging world market for highly fuel-efficient vehicles.

Trump announced he was taking the first steps to rollback rules requiring automakers to build increasingly fuel-efficient cars in a speech delivered to CEO's from some of the nation's largest automakers, including GM, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota of North America.

Unsealed Court Documents Suggest Collusion Between Monsanto, EPA to Pollute Science

Bottles of Roundup herbicide on a store shelf

Agrichemical giant Monsanto is currently facing lawsuits from people who claim that exposure to the company’s blockbuster product Roundup has caused cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers of the blood. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is the suspected culprit. Roundup is the most widely used herbicide on the planet right now.

As part of this ongoing litigation, Judge Vince Chhabria has unsealed some of the documents that have been filed with the court. These documents appear to show that Monsanto had numerous contacts with regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the time that the agency was supposed to be investigating the link between Roundup and certain cancers.

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.

Exxon, Peabody Coal Lobby for Bill Poised to Load EPA Science Board With Polluters

A scientist looks through a microscope

A bill which would prohibit scientists who had received research grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from serving on its Science Advisory Board (SAB) and potentially welcome more industry and corporate representatives to the board has passed through the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

The SAB is an independent council charged with reviewing the science EPA uses as the foundation for regulations, in addition to providing other scientific advice and expertise. Congressional Republicans have been taking aim at changing how SAB members are chosen for several years. The bill was first introduced in 2014, re-introduced again in 2015, and has taken its latest form as H.R.1431

Critics of the bill say it will give a seat at the table to corporate executives who would benefit from weakening EPA regulations and shut the door to many qualified researchers. And it has powerful corporations pushing it, including coal giant Peabody Energy, ExxonMobil, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and others, according to lobbying disclosure forms reviewed by DeSmog.

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