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The EPA
#31
Quote:While not surprising, it’s still troubling that nearly all of the bipartisan experts serving on the National Park System Advisory Board  felt compelled to resign in protest over the misguided policies of the Trump administration’s Department of the Interior (DOI). The fact that these experts, who care deeply about our national parks, would resign en masse in frustration points to the disfunction and the disrespect this administration has shown our nation’s parks and public lands. One council member, former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, told Alaska Public Radio that DOI has “showed no interest in learning about or continuing to use the forward-thinking agenda of science, the effect of climate change, protections of the ecosystem, education.”
America’s parks and public lands suffer another loss under Trump | TheHill
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#32
Quote:The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to protect a loophole that allows vastly more pollution than is typically permitted from heavy-duty commercial vehicles — all in the name of helping out a Trump supporterAt issue are glider kits, new trucks that come without an engine or transmission so they “glide.” This allows you to customize the powertrain — the engine, transmission, and drive axle — often with refurbished hardware, thereby saving around 25 percent of the cost of a new, complete truck.

“This process creates a reliable, more fuel efficient truck that requires less maintenance, yields less downtime and has the safety features and amenities owners have come to expect in trucks on the road today,” according to Fitzgerald Glider Kits, the largest assembler of glider kits in the United States. Glider trucks were originally used as a stopgap in trucking fleets to salvage motors and other components from trucks that were otherwise worn out or damaged, but they quickly caught on as a way to sidestep new emissions rules and save money. The mix-and-match trucks end up polluting 40 to 55 times more than new trucks, releasing compounds like soot and nitrogen dioxide that cause smog and hurt breathing. Since gliders contain refurbished engines, they aren’t held to the same pollution control standards as new trucks with new motors

The Obama administration tried to close this loophole, introducing new standards for glider trucks and capping their production at 300 per year per manufacturer starting in January this year. But now Trump’s EPA is trying to repeal these new standards, and there are politics at playAs Eric Lipton pointed out in the New York Times, Fitzgerald, the glider kit company, hosted a campaign event for President Trump. The company also met directly with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and donated $225,000 to Rep. Diane Black’s (R-TN) gubernatorial campaign: 

Ms. Black introduced legislation in 2015 to protect the loophole when it was first in line to be eliminated by a stricter diesel emissions rule under the Obama administration. That bill failed, but after the election of Mr. Trump, she turned to Mr. Pruitt to carve out an exemption to the new rule — scheduled to take effect last month — and presented him with the study from Tennessee Tech.

The Tennessee Tech study, funded by Fitzgerald, found that glider trucks pollute as much as or even less than new trucks, contradicting the EPA’s own assessment. The funding arrangement also triggered an investigation from the university.

Manufacturers like Volvo have written to the EPA to oppose this exemption, arguing that new truck manufacturers have worked hard to comply with stricter pollution controls. Glider kits, they say, sometimes sell for as much as a brand new truck, which means that the main benefit comes from not paying for pollution controls.
Obama tried to close a big pollution loophole. Trump wants to keep it. - Vox

This could all be put under various headings, like "Keep Americans Safe" or "Drain the Swamp." Needless to say they are exactly the opposite..
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#33
Quote:In his first year as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt has made a huge mark, shrinking his agency and repealing as many Obama-era environmental regulations as possible. And as I pointed out last month in this feature story, he’s also overseen a drastic slowdown in the day-to-day work of the agency. Key offices remain vacant and the implementation of new environmental rules has stalled, effectively throttling the agency. But one of EPA’s most important jobs is to enforce civil penalties for companies that breach limits for hazardous chemicals like sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid. And one new measure of Pruitt’s foot-dragging that’s just emerged is how much money EPA has been collecting from polluters lately.

According to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a watchdog group that advocates for enforcement of environmental laws, the amount of fines collected by Trump’s EPA has plummeted compared to the agency under the past three presidents in their first year in office. Check out this chart:

[Image: POLLUTER_FINES_BY_PRESIDENT.jpg]
How Trump’s EPA is letting polluters off the hook, in one chart - Vox
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#34
Quote:In congressional testimony, Pruitt’s answers are often focused on legalistic posturing, rather than the actual intent of the law. At EPA he sought and received waivers to work on rules he had challenged as a litigant and made decisions that benefitted companies which have contributed money to further his political career. It seems meeting the letter of the law — which he claimed to do — meant it was fine to engage in actions that were an obvious conflict of interest.

So he likely considers it entirely proper to travel in luxury as long as he obtains the proper waiver. It seems unimportant to him whether this is ethical behavior for a public servant, as long as he believes he can argue it is legal.
 
Pruitt is also deeply ideological, believing government rules hamper the free market. He has rashly canceled a range of Obama-era health safeguards and pollution limits without properly taking public input. However, the courts keep telling him he acted improperly. He seems to believe his views are so important that cutting corners to get his preferred policy outcomes is fine.

If you believe that you are doing such important work, you likely have the tendency to develop a sense of entitlement: that you can’t be bothered with the public (in coach) and that it’s worth the extra money to be able to focus on your surpassingly important mission (in first class). 
It is, in short, a deep sense of entitlement — a feeling that the spirit of the rules may be put aside in service of your higher purpose.

More importantly, Pruitt believes his real audience is far narrower than the coach-flying public. Rather, it seems he looks to the CEOs in first class, on whom he has lavished so much attention. His hand-picked efficiency expert even created a video in his former position explicitly saying the “customer” for environmental officials is not the “general public because they benefit from clean air” but businesses. That likely sums up Pruitt’s view of government
How Scott Pruitt created such a mess at EPA | TheHill

Worth reading this portrait of Scott Pruitt in full..
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#35
Quote:The Trump administration has used a variety of excuses to legitimize its record-setting rollbacks on environmental protections: calling global warming a hoax, or arguing that the economic consequences of increased regulation would outweigh their benefit.

The latest justification? The Bible.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, a media outlet that also seems to double as a propaganda arm of the Trump administration, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said his Christian convictions led him to conclude that America should use gas and coal freely because natural resources exist purely for man’s benefit. “The biblical world view with respect to these issues is that we have a responsibility to manage and cultivate, harvest the natural resources that we’ve been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind,” Pruitt told CBN’s David Brody.
Scott Pruitt cited the Bible to defend his oil-friendly policies - Vox

No surprise here. Any other justification would be even more bogus.
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#36
Quote:A federal environmental program that distributes grants to test the effects of chemical exposure on adults and children is being shuttered amidst a major organization consolidation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) will no longer exist following plans to combine three EPA offices, the agency confirmed to The Hill Monday. The program provides millions of dollars in grants each year. Perhaps best known for its handling of fellowships that study the effects of chemicals on children’s health, NCER will be dissolved and science staff serving there will be reassigned elsewhere within the department, EPA said.
Major EPA reorganization will end science research program | TheHill
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#37
Quote:At more than 70 sites across the country, toxins like arsenic, mercury, and radium are leaching into groundwater from pond-like storage pits filled with the sludgy leftovers of coal burning. That’s the most alarming takeaway from reports that the coal industry was required to submit to the Environmental Protection Agency this month, part of the first-ever federal regulations of the waste product known as coal ash.

And yet, one day after the data was made public, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced his plan to overhaul President Barack Obama’s 2015 coal ash rule, which requires companies to continuously inspect coal ash storage pits for leaks and monitor the surrounding areas for contamination. Coal companies and electric utilities had told him in May that these requirements were too expensive, and in September he said it would be “appropriate and in the public interest” to rethink them. Now, Pruitt is proposing more than a dozen changes, including giving states and power utilities more control over how they dispose of coal ash and how often they test for groundwater contamination..
Is Coal Waste Leaching Into America’s Drinking Water? | The New Republic
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#38
Quote:If EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt survives the onslaught of accusations of mismanagement and excessive spending with his job still safe, he has his biggest benefactors to thank. The #StandWithScottPruitt campaign has flooded the White House with pleas from Trump donors and conservative and industry-aligned groups to defend Pruitt, chalking up the revelations about his ethics scandals to a “smear campaign” from the “radical left.” Pruitt, technically, can be easily replaced because the fossil fuel industry now has an ally in the EPA’s number two spot. Andrew Wheeler, a recent coal lobbyist who used to work for the Senate’s biggest climate change denier, would take over as acting administrator should Pruitt leave. So, why is Pruitt still so valuable to Trump donors like Harold Hamm, the Oklahoma oilman who chaired Pruitt’s attorney general reelection campaign and called Trump last week?  

The answer doesn’t appear to be that Pruitt is a legal genius who has rapidly and effectively gutted regulations in a way that satisfies the courts. “They’re producing a lot of short, poorly crafted rulemakings that are not likely to hold up in court,” Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard, told the New York Times. Six of his regulatory rollbacks have already been struck down, the NYT adds. Natural Resources Defense Council’s David Doniger has also argued that many of Pruitt’s regulatory rollbacks are still “years away from being done” But the right wing doesn’t just think Pruitt is efficiently reversing regulations to reduce the EPA to “little tidbits”; they’re happy with his all-out assault to hollow out environmental oversight and enforcement.

“Pruitt is the most conservative member of the cabinet, both in temperament and action,” Republican strategist Mike McKenna told Bloomberg. Indeed, he’s always been seen as a “conservative icebreaker” by Oklahomans in his home state. 
Pruitt isn’t just valuable to his base—the industries he regulates—for the formal actions he’s taken on the regulatory front, even if they are likely to get tied up in litigation. Former EPA attorney Joseph Goffman, Harvard Environmental Law’s executive director, has been tracking the dozens of air, water, and climate regulations Pruitt has taken aim at so far. And Goffman has a counterargument: Pruitt has undermined environmental protection in ways that are not so easy or straightforward to untangle with a lawsuit. 
“He certainly sent the signal that in any given instance his policy preference is achieving lower levels of pollution reduction and achieving pollution reduction on a slower schedule,” Goffman says.
Here’s Why Scott Pruitt Still Has a Job – Mother Jones

A thoroughly corrupt guy (Scott Pruitt), involved in multiple scandals (see numerous posts in Drain the Swamp threat, like this one), but the right rallies around him:
  • Argues it's all smears by the radical left (demonstrable nonsense)
  • They are "happy with an all-out assault to hollow out environmental oversight and enforcement"
Who would be happy with that, and for what reasons, apart from fossil fuel executives? Are there any people that don't appreciate a cleaner environment? Don't they realize pollution is a big silent killer?
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