Archives for category: Environment

Jack Hassard, a professor of science education, scoffs at Trump’s claim that California could avoid forest fires by raking leaves on the forest floor. The cause of the raging fires, he writes, is climate change. Trump has declared that climate change is a hoax so he can’t admit what scientists agree is a growing environmental crisis.

This interesting post quotes Trump’s exchange with California officials. It’s painful to read because Trump is so clearly stupid.

By the way, Governor Newsom pointed out that the federal government owns 57% of California’s forest. The state owns less than 5%. If Trump wants leaf-raking, he should hire people to do it on federal lands.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Trump ignored the fact that the federal government manages much of the forested land in the West. Of the 33 million acres of forest in California, roughly 57% is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service or federal Bureau of Land Management, according to a report by the state’s Little Hoover Commission. State and local governments control only 3%, while the rest is private.

Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245727925.html#storylink=cpy

Donald Trump, stable genius, claims that Joe Biden is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, that is, when he’s not claiming that Biden is a tool of the “radical left.” Watch this conversation and make your own judgment. Ask yourself how Trump would fare without a script on a teleprompter. The film also serves to remind us of another Trump characteristic: He is utterly without empathy. He despises what he calls “losers.” It is impossible to forget the time he mocked a disabled journalist at one of his rallies. It’s easy to remember that he called John McCain a “loser” because he was a POW.

This is a most interesting unscripted discussion between Joe Biden and Ady Barkan.

Ady is a brilliant progressive activist who was a supporter of Sanders, Warren, and Medicare for all.

In 2016, he was stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and is completely disabled. He is dying by the day.

He asks tough questions.

I recommend the conversation.

Climate expert Bill Becker writes here about the state of America’s air, and Trump’s rollback of regulations to improve its quality.

He writes:

Our air still is not as clean and healthy as it could be, or should be. The most recent “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association (ALA) includes the sobering fact that nearly half of the American people live in places where it is still dangerous to breathe. Between 2016 and 2018, air quality has actually gotten worse. Over those three years, “millions more Americans were living in communities impacted by unhealthy levels of pollution in the form of more unhealthy ozone days, more particle pollution days and higher annual particle levels.”

Nearly 46% of us (that’s about 150 million people) live in counties with unhealthy levels of those pollutants. Ozone and particulates contribute to a variety of potentially deadly lung-related problems including asthma, heart disease, lung cancer and the basic functions of the lungs. Like so many other problems, from COVID-19 to the deadly consequences of climate change, people of color and low-income families suffer most…

The Trump administration…has significantly weakened enforcement of the Clean Air Act. Trump killed the rules the Obama Administration created to limit emissions from power plants and to make vehicles more efficient. Trump’s weakening of vehicle efficiency standards is expected to allow cars and trucks to emit a billion more tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Since President Trump took office, his administration has rolled back 27 regulations to limit air pollution, part of the 100 environmental safeguards it has reversed, revoked, or weakened. Most recently, the Administration is taking steps to stop counting the health benefits of enforcing the Clean Air Act, a move that policy experts and environmentalists say will make it harder to justify federal limits on air pollution.

To make matters worse, Trump has stopped all progress in the nation’s effort to limit climate change at the same time he is helping oil, gas and coal companies increase production of the fuels responsible for global warming and the air pollution described by the ALA.

Trump is the worst president in American history, not “modern times.” He is an international menace and a threat to all living things. His incompetence and stupidity are equaled only by his arrogance.

The New York Times reports:

 

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday unilaterally weakened one of the nation’s bedrock conservation laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, limiting public review of federal infrastructure projects to speed up the permitting of freeways, power plants and pipelines.

In doing so, the Trump administration claimed it will save hundreds of millions of dollars over almost a decade by significantly reducing the amount of time allowed to complete reviews of major infrastructure projects.

The president announced the final changes to the rule at the U.P.S. Hapeville Airport Hub in Atlanta, making the case that “mountains and mountains of red tape” and lengthy permit processes have held up major infrastructure projects across the country, including a lane expansion to the perpetually clogged Interstate 75 in Georgia.

“All of that ends today,” he said. “We’re doing something dramatic.”

Revising the 50-year-old law through regulatory reinterpretation is one of the biggest — and most audacious — deregulatory actions of the Trump administration, which to date has moved to roll back 100 rulesprotecting clean air and water, and others that aim to reduce the threat of human-caused climate change.

Bill Becker worked for two decades in the U.S. Department of Energy. Bill is the executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. I had the good fortune to meet him at a conference at Oberlin College a year or so ago. I have been on the mailing list for his blog ever since.

He wrote:


Wanted: A Vision for America

By William S. Becker

Joe Biden has just released an updated clean-energy platform, inspired in part by his desire to attract Sanders’ voters with stronger plans for leading a “clean energy revolution”. His new plan contains nine elements that range from holding polluters accountable to helping fossil energy workers displaced by the energy transition.”

It’s a predictable list and unlikely to satisfy climate hawks. But what its missing most is a vision for the nation. That has been the case for all of the policy platforms we saw from the Democrats who sought the presidency. Vice President Biden needs to communicate a unifying vision that is uplifting, principled, and aligned with the nation’s highest ideals. It needs to invoke the better angels who have been on sabbatical in America for too long. It needs to remind us what we all (or nearly all) have in common, rather than where we disagree.

Donald Trump dominates the presidential accessories market with “Make America Great Again”. It’s punchy enough to fit on a baseball cap, and everybody wants America to be great. Unfortunately, there is little agreement on what “great” is, and the devil is in the details.

Earlier this year, one of the pollsters posed Ronald Reagan’s famous debate question: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago.” The response was a predictable and resounding yes. That was before CVID-19 changed everything.

But even when the stock market was setting record highs and joblessness was low, those are superficial and temporary metrics that don’t tell us much about “great”. Are we morally and ethically great right now? Are we united around a shared aspiration for our country? Is our Congress functional? Does the rest of the world respect us? Are we at peace?

Do we respect and trust the most powerful guy on the planet?

When Dr. Martin Luther King stood at the Lincoln Memorial to tell us his dream, he didn’t recite a list of policy proposals. He let the better angels speak. His dream lifted us (or most of us) up.

This not to dismiss or belittle policy promises. Federal policies have been my bread and butter for the last 20 years. They form the roadmap to the future we want. Goals such as net-zero by 2050 are the mile markers. But we need something more. Trump has had the bully pulpit and the Twitter megaphone to dominate every daily news cycle for three years, so we have a pretty good idea of what his vision is. Joe Biden needs to give us an alternative. Here are some examples he can consider:

a) We want America to be an inspiration to the world rather than a disappointment. Let’s Make America Proud Again.

b) We want a country that guarantees equal opportunity for all its people, but not necessarily equal results. We should not expect success to be given to us. We should earn it.

c) We want a nation that values and cares for its natural resources, whether it’s wilderness and biodiversity or clean air, water, and skies.

d) We want a nation that cares about future generations.

e) We want a country that has grown past the propaganda that we can’t have environmental protection and lots of jobs at the same time. We can, and we must. The solar, wind energy, energy efficiency, and environmental restorations sectors are proving it.

f) We want to be finally and truly energy independent. Trump says we already are because we produce more oil than anyone else. He’s wrong. By one count, the oil disruption we are experiencing now is the 20th over the last 40 years. Shouldn’t we switch to energy that is inexhaustible, ubiquitous, harvested harmlessly, and free? You know, resources like sunlight, wind, geothermal energy, hydroelectricity, and bioenergy that the Saudis and Russians can’t manipulate?

g) We want America to be an active and constructive part in the community of nations. Let’s stop pretending that we can stand alone when all nations are inexorably bound together in the modern world. It’s probably unavoidable that an egomaniacal president will have an egomaniacal foreign policy. Let’s fix it..

h) We want an inclusive nation that respects the rights and the contributions of all races, religions, and nationalities who contribute to America’s success.

i) We need to stop using GDP as the only indicator of America’s health. It doesn’t measure happiness. And we should redefine growth to prioritize quality over quantity.

j) We want to be a country that pays it forward, we give back to our communities with volunteerism and civic engagement, and give back to our country with national service.

k) We want a country that lives up to the expectations of our greatest leaders, where we will “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty” in the words of President Kennedy; where we judge each other by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin, in the words of Dr. King; where our greatest concern is not whether God is on our side, but whether we are on God’s side, in the words of Abraham Lincoln; where “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much (but) whether we provide enough for those who have little” in the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; where we see wars as a “plague of mankind” and work to banish them from the Earth, as George Washington hoped; where we truly are that shining city on hill that President Reagan invoked; and where in the words of President Barack Obama, we “recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideas and those who died in their defense.”

That is the country we should be, Joe Biden might say, and that is the country we will be again.

In this time of national crisis, the Trump administration announced that it was lowering federal fuel economy standards.

This move reverses many years of efforts to fight air pollution.

People with emphysema, asthma, and other lung conditions, already at risk for coronavirus, will suffer even more risk as the air is dirtied by emissions from cars and trucks.

This change to lower standards may satisfy the fossil fuel industry and some in the transportation industry, at least those who put profits above lives, but it is a deadly blow to public health.

It is a curious time to take steps to further endanger public health and poison the air we breathe.

Is there a bottom to the heartlessness of the Trump administration and its callous indifference to our lives?

Did you know that the Trump Cabinet has its own Bible teacher?

His name is Ralph Drollinger, and he is bigoted and hard of hearts.

He wrote recently that the COVID-19 pandemic is an expression of God’s wrath.

Why is a God angry? Gays, environmentalists, and other groups that Drollinger doesn’t like.

He obviously thinks he knows what God thinks.

And he thinks he is God’s spokesman on earth.

This is a combination of bigotry and stupidity.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin insulted environmental activist Greta Thunberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying she should study economics. Although I’m no economist, it seems to me that the cost of intensified earthquakes, hurricanes, rising seas, and the health risks associated with extreme climate events far outweighs the profits of the fossil fuel industry. But then, I’m no economist.

The Washington Post consulted an economist:

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Switzerland, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked about calls from climate change activists such as Greta Thunberg for investors to pull their money out of fossil fuel stocks.

Mnuchin jokingly pretended to be unfamiliar with Thunberg, who even while still a teenager has become a leading global proponent of addressing the warming planet. Last year, she was Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused,” Mnuchin said of Thunberg. He questioned her credentials to offer solutions: “After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”

The Washington Post contacted someone who did study economics in college and asked him to explain it to us. Gernot Wagner is an economist who has a joint A.B. in economics and environmental science in public policy from Harvard University, a master’s degree in economics from Stanford University, a master’s in political economy in government from Harvard, and a PhD in political economy and government from Harvard.

According to Wagner, Thunberg doesn’t need to go much further than Economics 101 to make her case.

Speaking specifically about calls to divest, Wagner pointed to a letter released this month by BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink. In it, Fink announced the asset management firm he controls will divest — move investments away — from companies like those that are centered on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change.

The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance,” Fink wrote in the letter, according to the New York Times. 

It’s precisely this scenario of having fossil fuels go the way of tobacco that makes fossil fuel execs the most nervous,” Wagner told The Post. He noted that Shell Oil Co. predicted the rise of activists focused on climate change — back in 1998.

But, again, the question is economics, not politics.

Wagner, who spent nearly a decade working for the Environmental Defense Fund, explained the economic argument for applying pressure on oil companies.
“It’s Economics 101 that tells us that when there is a difference between private costs and costs to society, that difference ought to be included in one’s decision-making,” Wagner said.

“And when I say ought, of course the private individual won’t; it’s up to somebody in a position of power — let’s say the secretary of Treasury — to want to guide economic policy in the right direction.”

Make no mistake: The Trump administration is at war against science. It has stripped science advisors out of every agency, making sure that the federal government doesn’t make decisions based on evidence.

A note to science teachers: Read the following articles and remember that it is on you to build respect for science and for evidence alive for future generations.

Alan Singer details a long list of specific actions taken by the Trump regime to squelch science in the realm of climate change and public health in this post.

He writes:

Our house is on fire” and the Trump Administration war on science is fanning the flames. In 2019, Donald Trump continued his war against science, public health, the environment and climate awareness On November 4, 2019, two years after Trump announced his intentions, the United States began the official process of withdrawing from 2015 Paris Climate Accord. In September, when sixteen-year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered an impassioned speech at the United Nations demanding climate action, Trump dismissed her on his twitter account. He cyber-bullied her again after she spoke at a U.N. Climate Action Summit in December.

While withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord was definitely Trump’s most publicized and probably most dastardly attack on the world’s future, his administration and his twitter account also attacked science and environmental safety in the United States during 2019 through smaller, lesser known, but damaging claims and decisions. These are documented on the website Silencing Science Tracker, a joint initiative of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund and at other sources. What follows are some of the Trump Administration low points from 2019 in chronological order. It is a very long list and very frightening.

The New York Times published a long article about the administration’s efforts to eliminate science in every agency where it matters.

Reporters Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport begin their comprehensive story:

In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.

But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Mo., the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.

“The disregard for expertise in the federal government is worse than it’s ever been,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, which has tracked more than 200 reports of Trump administration efforts to restrict or misuse science since 2017. “It’s pervasive.”

Hundreds of scientists, many of whom say they are dismayed at seeing their work undone, are departing.

Among them is Matthew Davis, a biologist whose research on the health risks of mercury to children underpinned the first rules cutting mercury emissions from coal power plants. But last year, with a new baby of his own, he was asked to help support a rollback of those same rules. “I am now part of defending this darker, dirtier future,” he said.

This year, after a decade at the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Davis left.

“Regulations come and go, but the thinning out of scientific capacity in the government will take a long time to get back,” said Joel Clement, a former top climate-policy expert at the Interior Department who quit in 2017 after being reassigned to a job collecting oil and gas royalties. He is now at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group.

Mr. Trump has consistently said that government regulations have stifled businesses and thwarted some of the administration’s core goals, such as increasing fossil-fuel production. Many of the starkest confrontations with federal scientists have involved issues like environmental oversight and energy extraction — areas where industry groups have argued that regulators have gone too far in the past.

“Businesses are finally being freed of Washington’s overreach, and the American economy is flourishing as a result,” a White House statement said last year. Asked about the role of science in policymaking, officials from the White House declined to comment on the record.

The administration’s efforts to cut certain research projects also reflect a longstanding conservative position that some scientific work can be performed cost-effectively by the private sector, and taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to foot the bill. “Eliminating wasteful spending, some of which has nothing to do with studying the science at all, is smart management, not an attack on science,” two analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote in 2017 of the administration’s proposals to eliminate various climate change and clean energy programs.

Industry groups have expressed support for some of the moves, including a contentious E.P.A. proposal to put new constraints on the use of scientific studies in the name of transparency. The American Chemistry Council, a chemical trade group, praised the proposal by saying, “The goal of providing more transparency in government and using the best available science in the regulatory process should be ideals we all embrace.”

In some cases, the administration’s efforts to roll back government science have been thwarted. Each year, Mr. Trump has proposed sweeping budget cuts at a variety of federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. But Congress has the final say over budget levels and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have rejected the cuts.

For instance, in supporting funding for the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, recently said, “it allows us to take advantage of the United States’ secret weapon, our extraordinary capacity for basic research.”

As a result, many science programs continue to thrive, including space exploration at NASA and medical research at the National Institutes of Health, where the budget has increased more than 12 percent since Mr. Trump took office and where researchers continue to make advances in areas like molecular biology and genetics.

Nevertheless, in other areas, the administration has managed to chip away at federal science.

At the E.P.A., for instance, staffing has fallen to its lowest levels in at least a decade. More than two-thirds of respondents to a survey of federal scientists across 16 agencies said that hiring freezes and departures made it harder to conduct scientific work. And in June, the White House ordered agencies to cut by one-third the number of federal advisory boards that provide technical advice.

The White House said it aimed to eliminate committees that were no longer necessary. Panels cut so far had focused on issuesincluding invasive species and electric grid innovation.

At a time when the United States is pulling back from world leadership in other areas like human rights or diplomatic accords, experts warn that the retreat from science is no less significant. Many of the achievements of the past century that helped make the United States an envied global power, including gains in life expectancy, lowered air pollution and increased farm productivity are the result of the kinds of government research now under pressure.

“When we decapitate the government’s ability to use science in a professional way, that increases the risk that we start making bad decisions, that we start missing new public health risks,” said Wendy E. Wagner, a professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin who studies the use of science by policymakers.

Skirmishes over the use of science in making policy occur in all administrations: Industries routinely push back against health studies that could justify stricter pollution rules, for example. And scientists often gripe about inadequate budgets for their work. But many experts say that current efforts to challenge research findings go well beyond what has been done previously.

In an article published in the journal Science last year, Ms. Wagner wrote that some of the Trump administration’s moves, like a policy to restrict certain academics from the E.P.A.’s Science Advisory Board or the proposal to limit the types of research that can be considered by environmental regulators, “mark a sharp departure with the past.” Rather than isolated battles between political officials and career experts, she said, these moves are an attempt to legally constrain how federal agencies use science in the first place.

Some clashes with scientists have sparked public backlash, as when Trump officials pressured the nation’s weather forecasting agency to support the president’s erroneous assertion this year that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.

But others have garnered little notice despite their significance.

This year, for instance, the National Park Service’s principal climate change scientist, Patrick Gonzalez, received a “cease and desist” letter from supervisors after testifying to Congress about the risks that global warming posed to national parks.

“I saw it as attempted intimidation,” said Dr. Gonzalez, who added that he was speaking in his capacity as an associate adjunct professor at the University California, Berkeley, a position he also holds. “It’s interference with science and hinders our work.”

Even though Congress hasn’t gone along with Mr. Trump’s proposals for budget cuts at scientific agencies, the administration has still found ways to advance its goals.

One strategy: eliminate individual research projects not explicitly protected by Congress.

For example, just months after Mr. Trump’s election, the Commerce Department disbanded a 15-person scientific committee that had explored how to make National Climate Assessments, the congressionally mandated studies of the risks of climate change, more useful to local officials. It also closed its Office of the Chief Economist, which for decades had conducted wide-ranging research on topics like the economic effects of natural disasters. Similarly, the Interior Department has withdrawn funding for its Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, 22 regional research centers that tackled issues like habitat loss and wildfire management. While California and Alaska used state money to keep their centers open, 16 of 22 remain in limbo.

A Commerce Department official said the climate committee it discontinued had not produced a report, and highlighted other efforts to promote science, such as a major upgrade of the nation’s weather models.

An Interior Department official said the agency’s decisions “are solely based on the facts and grounded in the law,” and that the agency would continue to pursue other partnerships to advance conservation science.

Research that potentially posed an obstacle to Mr. Trump’s promise to expand fossil-fuel production was halted, too. In 2017, Interior officials canceled a $1 million study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the health risks of “mountaintop removal” coal mining in places like West Virginia.

Mountaintop removal is as dramatic as it sounds — a hillside is blasted with explosives and the remains are excavated — but the health consequences still aren’t fully understood. The process can kick up coal dust and send heavy metals into waterways, and a number of studies have suggested links to health problems like kidney disease and birth defects.

“The industry was pushing back on these studies,” said Joseph Pizarchik, an Obama-era mining regulator who commissioned the now-defunct study. “We didn’t know what the answer would be,” he said, “but we needed to know: Was the government permitting coal mining that was poisoning people, or not?”

While coal mining has declined in recent years, satellite data showsthat at least 60 square miles in Appalachia have been newly mined since 2016. “The study is still as important today as it was five years ago,” Mr. Pizarchik said.

The cuts can add up to significant research setbacks.

For years, the E.P.A. and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences had jointly funded 13 children’s health centers nationwide that studied, among other things, the effects of pollution on children’s development. This year, the E.P.A. ended its funding.

At the University of California, San Francisco, one such center has been studying how industrial chemicals such as flame retardants in furniture could affect placenta and fetal development. Key aspects of the research have now stopped.

“The longer we go without funding, the harder it is to start that research back up,” said Tracey Woodruff, who directs the center.

In a statement, the E.P.A. said it anticipated future opportunities to fund children’s health research.

At the Department of Agriculture, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced in June he would relocate two key research agencies to Kansas City from Washington: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a scientific agency that funds university research on topics like how to breed cattle and corn that can better tolerate drought conditions, and the Economic Research Service, whose economists produce studies for policymakers on farming trends, trade and rural America.

Nearly 600 employees had less than four months to decide whether to uproot and move. Most couldn’t or wouldn’t, and two-thirds of those facing transfer left their jobs.

In August, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, appeared to celebrate the departures.

“It’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker,” he said in videotaped remarks at a Republican Party gala in South Carolina. “But by simply saying to people, ‘You know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven of Washington, D.C., and move you out in the real part of the country,’ and they quit. What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”

The White House declined to comment on Mr. Mulvaney’s speech.

The exodus has led to upheaval.

At the Economic Research Service, dozens of planned studies into topics like dairy industry consolidation and pesticide use have been delayed or disrupted. “You can name any topic in agriculture and we’ve lost an expert,” said Laura Dodson, an economist and acting vice president of the union representing agency employees.

We live in an era where ignorance and stupidity are valued more than evidence and scientific inquiry.

If this continues, our society will go backwards, and our climate–the air we breathe, the water we drink, the oceans and the climate that sustains life–will be jeopardized.

We are an endangered species, endangered by ignorance.

I fear we are becoming insensitive to shock in the Trump era. And the very concept of “government ethics” seems to be an oxymoron in this era. Here are two shocking reports by Teresa Hanafin, who writes the Fast Forward commentary of the Boston Globe:

Trump holds another campaign rally tonight, this time in Toledo. Earlier in the day, he’s scheduled to announce some proposed National Environmental Policy Act regulations, and that’s never a good thing.

Trump is dramatically reducing the authority of the act, signed by Richard Nixon in 1970. The idea was that the federal government would protect the environment from excess by assessing the impacts of major projects — and include the public in the deliberations. Trump’s instinct is to protect private companies from any restrictions, nature be damned.

His action will make it easier to for companies to build pipelines, clear-cut forests, dig mines, drill for oil, etc.

It’s in keeping with the entire anti-environment stance of his administration. The New York Times found that Trump has reversed 58 policies related to air pollution and emissions, drilling and extraction, infrastructure, animals, toxic substances and safety, water pollution, and more. And he is in the process of rolling back another 37 regulations, for 95 in all.

Some of his actions have been reversed by courts because they violated the environmental policy act, so now he’s gutting the act. Scientists say Trump’s rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year. Economist Paul Krugman predicts that environmental destruction will be a lasting legacy of what he calls the Republican Party of Pollution.


Ho hum, another day, another Trump coverup. This time Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is trying to prevent Congress from finding out how much the Secret Service is spending on protecting Trump and his family during their frequent and extensive travels until after the November election.

This issue has arisen because Mnuchin is asking Congress to move the Secret Service back into his department — it was moved to Homeland Security after 9/11 — and congressional Democrats are using the request to try to pry travel cost information out of the service.

Despite the service’s failure to file reports about its spending on Trump’s travel, and the White House’s refusal to answer congressional questions about travel spending (what are they trying to hide?), there are some things we do know, according to The Washington Post:

— Trump has visited his properties outside of the D.C. area, such as Mar-a-Lago in Florida and his golf club in New Jersey, more than 50 times in the past three years.

— The government spent about $96 million on travel by Barack Obama during his eight years as president. Trump’s travel cost taxpayers $13.6 million in just one month in early 2017. At that pace, Trump would have exceeded Obama’s eight-year total in just seven months. Nothing succeeds like excess!

— Every time Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago, it costs taxpayers $3.4 million.For each trip.

— The Secret Service has spent $588,000 just on golf cart rentalsfollowing around the guy who said during his campaign that he was going to be too busy working to golf.

— Trump’s adult children also are gorging at the taxpayer trough. Even though they could easily afford private security, Don Jr. and Eric Trump,who don’t have a government job like Ivanka and aren’t students like Tiffany, take Secret Service protection when they travel overseas for their private business or go on illegal hunting trips.

One example: When Eric visited Uruguay in 2017 to promote the Trump Organization, he stuck US taxpayers with a bill of nearly $100,000 for hotel rooms to put up Secret Service and embassy staff. As the Post pointed out:

The Uruguayan trip shows how the government is unavoidably entangled with the Trump company as a result of the president’s refusal to divest his ownership stake. In this case, government agencies are forced to pay to support business operations that ultimately help to enrich the president himself. Though the Trumps have pledged a division of business and government, they will nevertheless depend on the publicly funded protection granted to the first family as they travel the globe promoting their brand.

Apparently Mnuchin’s refusal to tell Congress how much taxpayer money Trump is spending on travel security until after the election is causing some Democrats to withdraw their support for his request.