Trump administration is rolling coal

Here’s the Trump administration trolling the world again:

The Trump administration made its debut at a United Nations conference on climate change on Monday by giving a full-throated defense of fossil fuels and nuclear energy as answers to driving down global greenhouse gas emissions.

The forum — the only official appearance by the United States delegation during the annual two-week climate gathering of nearly 200 nations — illustrated how sharply the administration’s views are at odds with those of many key participants in the climate negotiations.

George D. Banks, special adviser to President Trump on international energy issues, led a panel with top American energy executives. “Without question, fossil fuels will continue to be used, and we would argue that it’s in the global interest to make sure when fossil fuels are used that they be as clean and efficient as possible,” Mr. Banks said. “This panel is controversial only if we chose to bury our heads in the sand.”

Here’s an interesting comeback:

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who has spent tens of millions of dollars on a campaign to shut down coal plants, said, “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.”

The thing is, Donald Trump doesn’t recognize that. He is the king of political correctness, so if he thinks there’s no global warming then you’re not going to hear anybody from his administration talk about it and so you get comments like the one above by Mr. Banks.

Politcal Correctness in the EPA

The new EPA is all about Political Correctness:

The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference Monday in Rhode Island, according to the agency and several people involved.

Ok, that’s really just censorship. Here’s the Political Correctness:

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is funded through the EPA’s approximately $26 million National Estuary Program. It funds 28 state-based estuary programs and delivers about $600,000 annually to the Narragansett Bay program. Pruitt’s proposed budget for 2018 would eliminate the national program.
Under Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA also has removed most mentions of the words “climate change” from its website.

On an EPA website, scores of links to materials to help local officials prepare for a world of rising temperatures and more severe storms have been removed.
Among the now-missing pages are those detailing the risks of climate change and the different approaches states are taking to curb emissions. Also edited out were examples of statewide plans to adapt to weather extremes.

It is no longer politically correct to talk about global warming at the EPA–that’s impressive, the agency tasked with protecting the environment doesn’t want to talk about something that will have a pretty adverse effect on the environment.

More Political Correctness from the Trump administration

Here is more political correctness:

For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

The chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, has been linked to kidney cancer, birth defects, immune system disorders and other serious health problems.

So scientists and administrators in the E.P.A.’s Office of Water were alarmed in late May when a top Trump administration appointee insisted upon the rewriting of a rule to make it harder to track the health consequences of the chemical, and therefore regulate it.

The Trump administration doesn’t want to hear about the problems caused by these chemicals so they try to bury the information–it’s not politically correct to talk about.

And there’s more:

In March, Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. chief, overrode the recommendation of Ms. Hamnett and agency scientists to ban the commercial use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, blamed for developmental disabilities in children.

The E.P.A.’s new leadership also pressed agency scientists to re-evaluate a plan to ban certain uses of two dangerous chemicals that have caused dozens of deaths or severe health problems: methylene chloride, which is found in paint strippers, and trichloroethylene, which removes grease from metals and is used in dry cleaning.

and here’s some typical political correctness in action:

Methylene chloride has been blamed in dozens of deaths, including that of a 21-year-old Tennessee man in April, who was overwhelmed by fumes as he was refinishing a bathtub.

“How is it possible that you can go to a home improvement store and buy a paint remover that can kill you?” Ms. Hamnett asked. “How can we let this happen?”

Furniture-refinishing companies and chemical manufacturers have urged the E.P.A. to focus on steps like strengthening warning labels, complaining that there are few reasonably priced alternatives.

Ms. Hamnett said Dr. Beck raised the possibility that people were not following the directions on the labels. She also suggested that only a small number of users had been injured. “Is it 1 percent?” Ms. Hamnett recalled Dr. Beck asking.

Methylene chloride is killing people but that’s bad for business and so you have to work to find ways to say what the administration wants–sure it’s killing people but maybe they didn’t follow the directions and anyway it’s not that many people.

And here’s how the administration replies when a news agency continues to be politically incorrect:

“No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece,” Liz Bowman, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said in an email. “The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”

Renewable energy helps the economy

So Trump is taking the US out of the Paris agreement and still won’t say that he believes in global warming:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was asked the same question over and over and over again during a Friday briefing with reporters: Does President Trump still believe global warming is a hoax?

And each time, Pruitt refused to answer with a ‘‘yes’’ or a ‘‘no,’’ telling reporters that as he and the president discussed exiting the Paris climate deal, the topic of climate change never came up.

‘‘All the discussions that we had through the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue: Is Paris good or not for this country?’’ Pruitt said when asked the question a first time. ‘‘That’s the discussions I’ve had with the president. So, that’s been my focus.’’

Trump has long been skeptical of climate change, despite vast scientific evidence showing that human activity has contributed to the problem, and has repeatedly suggested that it is a ‘‘hoax.’’ A Vox analysis found that Trump has tweeted such skepticism at least 115 times since 2011, describing global warming as ‘‘mythical,’’ ‘‘nonexistent,’’ ‘‘fictional,’’ an ‘‘expensive hoax’’ and ‘‘bulls—.’’

Let’s look at the economics:

Trump sees this move as a way to help stoke the nation’s coal industry. But coal’s importance is expected to dwindle anyway. New England’s largest coal plant, the Brayton Point complex in Somerset, closed for good this week. The main reason: It simply couldn’t compete with cheaper natural gas-fired plants.

Nearly 66,000 people work in the coal industry nationwide, compared to roughly 100,000 clean-energy jobs in Massachusetts alone.

Trump is already trying to take an ax to renewable energy programs. The president proposed a 69 percent cut to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which funds advances in everything from automobiles to wind power.

More troubling for Massachusetts: Trump proposed eliminating the “ARPA-E” program, which subsidizes high-tech energy research. Massachusetts has been the second largest beneficiary of ARPA-E grants after California, with more than $150 million flowing into the state since the program’s inception in 2009.

The US under Trump is reducing its funding for the part of the energy sector that is growing faster than any other. Maybe there’s still time to bring back the buggy whip industry.

Greenland

In preparation of Donald Trump announcing that the US will leave the Paris Accord on global warming, here’s a picture of a fjord in Greenland (Credit: NASA/John Sonntag):

Be sure to look at it because if Donald Trump has his way, it really will be green land in the not so distant future.

The March for Science

The March for Science (you should go if you believe that science is important) is today and so we get stories like this:

That is why, Michel said, he plans to take to the streets (and play his accordion) Saturday at the March for Science in Boston, an offshoot of the main event in Washington and one of hundreds of such marches across the country that aim to celebrate science and champion its role in advancing the health, safety and well-being of society.

The marches are nonpartisan, but have generated criticism that they threaten to turn scientists into another political interest group protesting the new administration, thereby undermining the credibility of scientific research and one of the organizers’ key messages: that science is apolitical.

Science is apolitical, but when one party consistently denies the science when it goes against their beliefs it becomes political. Many, and sometimes most, Republicans don’t believe in global warming or evolution or the problem with certain pesticides (going all the way back to Rachel Carson) or how abortions are performed (and how they affect the woman–it does not cause them to be depressed). And when a man gets elected President who specifically denies global warming, wants to cut money going to all kinds of scientific research, wants to make it harder for scientists to come to the US (either to work or just to come to a conference) and cuts scientists out of the decision making process in multiple departments, then you’re going to get push-back from the scientific community.

President Trump and Republicans have made parts of science political and this should hurt them politically. It hasn’t, partially because of articles like this.

Let’s look at the Trump administration

We all heard the cries that liberals needed to give Trump a chance, so let’s look at two departments under Trump.

First let’s look at the EPA under Scott Pruitt:

  • thinks its mission is to help the fossil fuel industry:

This new agenda for the EPA, bitterly opposed by many of the agency’s staff, was unveiled at the Harvey mine in Sycamore, Pennsylvania, on Thursday. Pruitt, who was presented with an honorary mining helmet, said the federal government’s “war” on coal was over in a speech to assembled miners.

“The coal industry was nearly devastated by years of regulatory overreach, but with new direction from President Trump, we are helping to turn things around for these miners and for many other hardworking Americans,” said Pruitt.

Though Pruitt insisted that clean air and water will be maintained in this purge, the choice of venue for the announcement was jarring.

Consol Energy, which operates the Bailey Mine complex which includes the Harvey mine, was fined $3m in August for discharging contaminated wastewater into streams that flow into the Ohio river. In the settlement with the EPA and the justice department, it emerged that the mining operation exceeded effluent limits at least 188 times between 2006 and 2015.

He also doesn’t seem to care about pesticides:

The EPA administrator also recently decided to reject the conclusion of his own agency’s scientists who recommended that a widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos, should be banned from farms.

EPA scientists warned that the pesticides could cause severe harm to children and farm workers, but Pruitt said chlorpyrifos would not be banned in order to provide “regulatory certainty” to businesses.

And he has his priorities straight (bold added):

The EPA has been targeted by the Trump administration for stringent budget cuts. The agency has drawn up a plan that would lay off 25% of its employees and scrap 56 programs, including pesticide safety, lead toxicity and environmental justice. There would be new funding, however, for a 24-hour security detail for Pruitt.

  • He really seems to want increased pollution from coal:

The hulking Gallatin Fossil Plant sits on a scenic bend of the Cumberland River about 30 miles upstream from Nashville. In addition to generating electricity, the plant, built in the early 1950s by the Tennessee Valley Authority, produces more than 200,000 tons of coal residue a year. That coal ash, mixed with water and sluiced into pits and ponds on the plant property, has been making its way into groundwater and the river, potentially threatening drinking water supplies, according to two current lawsuits.

A new rule regulating the monitoring, safe storage and disposal of coal ash went into effect in 2015. This past week, however, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said in a letter to a Minnesota environmental official that the agency would reconsider the rule and delay the 2018 compliance deadline for states.

President Trump’s top environment official called Thursday for an exit from the historic Paris agreement, in what appeared to be the first time such a high-ranking official has so explicitly disavowed the agreement endorsed by nearly 200 countries to fight climate change.

Speaking with ‘‘Fox & Friends,’’ Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt said, ‘‘Paris is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion.’’

‘‘It’s a bad deal for America,’’ Pruitt continued. ‘‘It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs.’’

Then there’s Betsy DeVos, that supremely unqualified leader of the Department of Education.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is inexplicably backing away from rules that are meant to prevent federal student loan borrowers from being fleeced by companies the government pays to collect the loans and to guide people through the repayment process.

On Tuesday, she withdrew a sound Obama administration policy that required the Education Department to take into account the past conduct of loan servicing companies before awarding them lucrative contracts — and to include consumer protections in those contracts as well.

A suit brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau claims that Navient saved itself money by steering borrowers into costly repayment strategies that added billions in interest to their balances. But as Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg reported in The Times on Monday, states’ lawsuits are especially damning with respect to Sallie Mae — the company that spun off Navient in 2014.

Most people would think that such a company shouldn’t get more business with the federal government, but not our Secretary of Education.

  • She hired someone even less qualified than she is, which I would have thought was impossible:

The new acting head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights once complained that she experienced discrimination because she is white.

A longtime anti-Clinton activist and an outspoken conservative-turned-libertarian, she has denounced feminism and race-based preferences. She’s also written favorably about, and helped edit a book by, an economist who decried both compulsory education and the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Now that’s impressive. Scott Pruitt has sued the EPA and Rick Perry now heads an agency he once wanted to get rid of, but the new head of the Education’s Office for Civil Rights has worked for someone who was against the Civil Rights Act and compulsory education. You can see her thinking in these quotes:

“As with most liberal solutions to a problem, giving special assistance to minority students is a band-aid solution to a deep problem,” she wrote. “No one, least of all the minority student, is well served by receiving special treatment based on race or ethnicity.”

“In today’s society, women have the same opportunities as men to advance their careers, raise families, and pursue their personal goals,” she wrote. “College women who insist on banding together by gender to fight for their rights are moving backwards, not forwards.”

It’s almost as if she doesn’t believe racism or sexism exist, which is kind of weird for a head of a civil rights division.

She’s also blatant in her hypocrisy and partisanship:

In 2005, Jackson wrote a book on the allegations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton, titled “Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine.” She gained national attention last October after she arranged for several of Bill Clinton’s accusers to attend a presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Jackson sat with the women in the front of the audience. A few days before the debate, Jackson established Their Lives Foundation. In registration documents, she described two of its purposes as “giving public voice to victims of women who abuse positions of power” and “advocating for and against candidates for political office.”

Less than a week after the debate, Jackson posted on Facebook that her foundation “supports all victims of power abusers,” but labeled Trump’s accusers “fake victims.”

 

This same kind of thing is true in almost every part of the Trump administration, which is why we didn’t want to give Trump a chance. We knew how bad he could be.

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