Farron Cousins

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Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on [email protected]

In Dramatic Shift, Kentucky Voters Potentially Becoming Numb to Politicians Talking About Coal Jobs

For years, Republican politicians campaigning in the state of Kentucky have used the fictitious “war on coal” talking point to gain support from voters. From Senator Mitch McConnell who has represented the state in the U.S. Senate for 32 years, to President Donald Trump, the generally accepted rule has been that talking about the importance of coal and coal jobs, while attacking environmental safety standards that put a “burden” on the coal industry, is the key to winning in the state of Kentucky.

But if new reports are to be believed, that conventional wisdom about running a campaign on coal could be suffering the same fate as the coal industry itself.

Trump Admin Proposes 70% Cut To Renewable Energy and Efficiency Programs at Energy Dept

Butcher knife on cutting board with dollar bill cut in half

According to Axios.com, the Trump Administration is proposing a 70 percent reduction in funding for the Department of Energy’s renewable and energy efficiency programs, a move that could severely dampen the recent surge in renewable energy production and job growth.

As Axios points out, a cut this steep will have trouble making its way through Congress, but it sets the bar incredibly low from a negotiation standpoint, meaning that the overall funding for the department will still fall significantly from previous years. Funding for the renewable energy programs dropped from $478 million in 2015 to $451 million in 2016, while energy efficiency programs increased from $721 million to $762 million in the same period.

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.

House Science Committee Leader Says Climate Scientists Are Trying to Control People’s Lives

Lamar Smith

Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, declared in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives this week that the people warning us about the dangers of global warming — which definitely includes climate scientists — are either trying to make a quick buck, or they’re just trying to control our lives.

Media Matters Report Shows Stunning Lack of Climate Change Coverage on TV Networks in 2016

TV news vans

A new report from Media Matters for America details the astounding lack of coverage of climate change from major U.S. television news outlets in 2016. According to the report, there was an overall decrease in coverage, dropping about 66 percent from the previous year.

News outlets that included ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News Sunday spent a combined total of 50 minutes discussing the issue of climate change on nightly and Sunday morning news programs in 2016.

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.

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.

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.

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