Trump plans to strip NASAs earth science division, promote mission to Mars

March 22, 2017 by  
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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed into law a new plan for NASA’s future . The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 calls for a $19.5 billion annual budget for the agency – not a major change from the agency’s $19.3 billion budget in 2016 – but the document seems to leave out the agency’s earth science division entirely. Trump claims this is simply a way of reaffirming the agency’s “core mission” of human space exploration, space science, and technology, but given how aggressively the new administration has gone after any agencies involved in atmospheric research, climate change denial is likely the underlying motive for the shift. Under the new act, Congressional Republicans have outlined a new roadmap for the agency’s future. The law calls on NASA to create a plan for humans to reach the surface of Mars by the 2030s, and to continue developing its Orion space capsule and its Space Launch System. The administration has also expressed a desire for NASA to return to the moon in the 2020s. Related: NASA releases startling new images showing 30 years of change on Earth What’s unclear is exactly how the new law will affect NASA’s earth science research. Trump’s proposed budget , however, may offer some clues. He hopes to cut the earth science budget by $102 million, potentially terminating a number of programs, including the   Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem  (PACE),  Orbital Carbon Observatory-3  (OCO-3),  Deep Space Climate Observatory  (DISCOVR), and  CLARREO Pathfinder missions. These four satellites help scientists monitor the Earth’s climate, weather, and oceans. While Trump may claim climate change is outside of the scope of NASA’s original research mission, that’s simply untrue. When NASA was formed in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Act explicitly called on the new agency to contribute to the “expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere.” The loss of these resources would be devastating to the larger scientific world, which often relies on NASA data for research. Related: Gov. Jerry Brown pledges to launch California’s “own damn satellite” if Trump blocks climate research It’s still far too early to know what might happen: the funding requested would be for the 2018 fiscal year, so any cuts wouldn’t be felt immediately. The proposed budget also has to be reviewed and approved by Congress before anything is set in stone. Hopefully, lawmakers will see the value in maintaining some of these programs, even if Trump doesn’t. Via Business Insider Images via   NASA

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Trump plans to strip NASAs earth science division, promote mission to Mars

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Trump’s anti-science budget will make America stupid again

March 21, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump ’s proposed budget eviscerates government funding for basic scientific research and development, taking a sledge hammer to education, health and environmental protection. In a series of Tweets posted on Sunday, astrophysicist and TV host Neil deGrasse Tyson indirectly took on Trump’s budget , writing that making America great won’t happen until we make America smart again by increasing government funding, not by ignoring the scientific consensus on man-made global warming and slashing financial support for important programs that improve the quality of life for American citizens and ensure a livable world. https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/843510463392616448 https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/843513652611231744 https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/843516171748069376 https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/843518683053940736 https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/843521200278069248 https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/843523716977905664 https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/843525981570662400 https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/843530014104592384 Trump’s budget boosts Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs while proposing deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (31.4%), Health and Human Services (16.2%), the State Department (28.7%), Commerce (15.7%), Transportation (12.7%), Labor (20.7%), Education (13.5%), Interior (11.7%), Agriculture (20.7%) and Housing and Urban Development (13.2%). Related: Trump team claims funding climate change is “a waste of your money” The budget would also eliminate or zero out programs including Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds clean energy research; Global Climate Change Initiative; Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; Chesapeake Bay funding; National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; NASA’s Office of Education; and TIGER transportation grants, a program included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that funds innovative transit projects. Tyson isn’t the only scientist taking action against Trump’s war on science. The March for Science  is scheduled for Earth Day, April 22nd in Washington, D.C. and cities across the country. The mission statement posted on the March for Science website calls for “robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.” Via Huffington Post Image 1 , 2 via Wikimedia

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Neil deGrasse Tyson: Trump’s anti-science budget will make America stupid again

The no-brainer case for saving fuel economy standards

March 17, 2017 by  
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4 reasons why the Trump administration should reconsider dismantling our current automotive fuel standards.

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The no-brainer case for saving fuel economy standards

The no-brainer case for saving fuel economy standards

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

4 reasons why the Trump administration should reconsider dismantling our current automotive fuel standards.

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The no-brainer case for saving fuel economy standards

Trump to purge climate change from federal government

March 15, 2017 by  
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Al Gore tried to convince President Donald Trump about the importance of acting on climate change. So did Leonardo DiCaprio . Elon Musk joined Trump’s tech council . German Chancelor Angela Merkel reportedly is going to bring up climate change at her White House meeting with the president. But it all appears to be in vain as the Trump Administration begins to purge the federal government of any association with global warming. The president is expected to sign an executive order possibly as soon as this week that would drop climate change from environmental reviews and rescind other Obama-era climate policies — dramatically reducing the role that climate change plays in government decision-making. The directive will also urge the US Environmental Protection Agency to dismantle the Clean Power Plan , which has yet to be implemented because of legal challenges from conservative states. Regulators will be directed to rescind Obama-era regulations limiting methane emissions — a potent greenhouse gas that escapes into the atmosphere from various points along the natural gas supply chain. Related: Trump tries to keep 21 kids’ climate change lawsuit from going to trial The order will also ask the government to reconsider using the “social cost of carbon” metric when considering new regulations. In what was described by The Daily Beast as the “most historic climate change decision” ever taken by the federal government, for the first time in US history the government put a price on carbon at $36 per ton. Conservatives, including Republican elder statesmen who wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal recently supporting a revenue neutral carbon tax, should be discouraged by the fact that Trump does not want the federal government to factor carbon pollution in the rule-making process. Trump is also determined to revive the dying coal industry that has been replaced by cheap natural gas and renewables such as solar and wind. The president is expected to lift the coal leasing moratorium the Obama Administration put in place January 2016. When he was running for president, Trump pledged to end what he described as a “war on coal” and put coal workers back to work. Last September, Trump said that he would “rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration.” Via Reuters Image 1 , 2 via Wikimedia

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Trump will give architects just five days to submit proposals for a Mexican border wall

February 28, 2017 by  
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Donald Trump is pushing ahead with his campaign promise to build a massive border wall between the US and Mexico, disregarding criticisms about the cost and physical feasibility of the project. Despite the fact that the wall will be a massive infrastructure project, the administration seems to be in a rush to begin work as soon as possible – last week, the Department of Homeland Security issued an open call for designs – but architects have just five days to submit their proposals. There’s won’t be a lengthy period to prepare for the open call period, either – submissions open soon, starting on March 6th and closing on March 10th. The administration plans to choose a set of finalists by March 20th and to make final contract awards in mid-April. In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 24th, Trump claimed construction would begin as soon as possible, calling the project “way, way, way ahead of schedule.” Related: Mexican designers envision Trump’s border wall in “all of its gorgeous perversity” Architects and designers have, of course, already published numerous plans for the border wall online, although none of their suggestions are likely to please the new President. One Mexican design firm suggested a hot pink wall that would cut through cities, across rivers, and through mountain ranges. Another suggested building it out of recycled shipping containers . One other tongue-in-cheek suggestion involved an Ikea-style instruction booklet for building the 1,000-mile barrier. Related: Trump plans to officially order Mexico border wall Despite an estimated price tag of potentially billions of dollars , it’s still unclear exactly how the wall is going to be funded . The rush to award a contract seems a bit premature in light of the budgeting issues involved. Via Dezeen Images via Wikipedia and EdmondMeinfelder

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Trump will give architects just five days to submit proposals for a Mexican border wall

New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties

February 23, 2017 by  
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Email already hobbled one politician; could it prove to be the downfall of another? The writing might be on the wall for Scott Pruitt , longtime foe of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , as well as its newest administrator. While serving as attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt regularly colluded with oil and gas producers and electric utilities with ties to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch to oppose federal environmental regulations, according to 7,500-plus pages of email that were made public on Wednesday. “The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry, with frequent meetings, calls, dinners and other events,” said Nick Surgey, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy , which sued to obtain the documents. Indeed, the correspondence portrays a rapport that isn’t just amicable, but downright cozy. Devon Energy , an oil and gas exploration firm based in Oklahoma City, for instance, drafted—and redrafted—letters for Pruitt to sign and send to federal officials in opposition of regulations designed to limit greenhouse-gas emissions and ozone pollution. “Attached is a potential first-cut draft of a letter a (bipartisan if possible?) group of AGs might send to the acting EPA administrator and some others in the Administration in response to the NE states’ notice of intent to sue for more E&P emission regulation,” William Whitsitt, executive vice president for public affairs at Devon, wrote in 2013. Related: Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of Months later, Clayton Eubanks, a deputy solicitor general, asked Whitsitt for advice on a draft the letter was preparing to send to the EPA regarding proposed regulations of methane emissions. “I would like to get the letter out in the morning,” Eubanks wrote. “Any suggestions?” Whitsitt was quick to respond. “Here you go. Please note that you could use just the red changes, or both red and blue (the latter being some further improvements from one of our experts) or none,” he wrote back. Hope this helps.” “I sent the letter today,” Eubanks emailed the next day. “Thanks for all your help on this.” Communications reveal a similar fraternity between his office and Koch Brothers-funded conservative political groups such as Americans for Prosperity , which emailed the offices of Pruitt and an Oklahoma congressman thanking them for helping “push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states.” The emails’ release comes just days after Pruitt was promoted from EPA critic to EPA overseer. The road to his appointment was a rocky one, to say the least. Senate Democrats, environmental groups, and former and current members of the EPA staff launched a vociferous campaign against Pruitt, even calling for a delay on his confirmation vote until after the emails were made public. It was mostly for naught, however. Susan Collins from Maine was the sole Republican who voted against him, and Pruitt was confirmed by a 52-to-46 vote on Friday. Making his first speech at EPA headquarters in Washington on Tuesday, Pruitt told employees that he was here to “listen, learn, and lead.” Related: Scott Pruitt attacks critics and EPA employees in first speech Pruitt said the EPA needed to respect states’ roles in enforcing standards, and that “regulations ought to make things regular.” He also insisted that there shouldn’t be a disconnect between environmental protection and energy production. Nor should regulations hamper job creation. “We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment,” Pruitt said. “That we don’t have to choose between the two. I think our nation has done better than any nation in the world at making sure we do the job of protecting our natural resources and protecting our environment while also respecting the economic growth and jobs our nation seeks to have.” Pruitt’s words did little to smooth staffers’ hackles, however. “Pruitt’s talk [was] as bad as expected,” one anonymous employee told Mother Jones . “Not one word about public health. And talking about the rule of law as if we didn’t do everything with the realization that it will end up in court. It was condescending and hypocritical.” + Center for Media and Democracy Photos by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties

Oil pipelines destroy jobs, too

February 22, 2017 by  
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Sure pipelines are good for oil companies, but what about jobs related to preserving nature and culture?

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Oil pipelines destroy jobs, too

Trump to sign executive orders rolling back Obama’s climate protection policies

February 21, 2017 by  
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The environment could be the next victim of President Donald Trump’s executive orders. The Washington Post reported  that according to individuals briefed on the measure, Trump is seeking to curtail some of President Barack Obama’s policies on water pollution , coal and the environment through upcoming executive orders . Signing such orders would signal the Trump administration will work to champion the fossil fuel industry , regardless of the economic growth the country could see through renewable energy . According to The Washington Post, people familiar with the proposals who asked to remain anonymous said Trump is currently preparing executive orders and could announce them later this week. The orders largely target rules put in place under Obama to protect the environment. It could take a while to actually implement the orders, but they would serve as a reminder the Trump administration is dead set on promoting fossil fuels. Related: Insider says Trump could pull America out of Paris deal within days One order could direct the Environmental Protection Agency to start rewriting a 2015 regulation limiting greenhouse gas emissions of electric utilities. Under the same order the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management could rescind a freeze on federal coal leasing. Another order could change the 2015 Waters of the United States rule, which provides authority for the federal government over rivers, wetlands, and streams that feed into large water bodies. The rule impacts some development that could pollute the smaller waterways. Trump has said such regulations aiming to safeguard the environment hurt economic growth. He’s condemned rules put in place to reduce the use of fossil fuels as an attack on the coal industry. While the president’s moves could face legal battles, the lifting of the coal leasing freeze could take effect immediately. Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and U.S. Department of the Interior on Flickr

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Self-sustaining island eco-lodge in Florida has its own desalination system

February 21, 2017 by  
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For those looking to get away from the chaos of modern life, a stunning luxury eco-lodge is currently on the market. The solar-powered Melody Key Lodge is a timber home located on 5.24 acres of secluded island paradise, just 25 miles from Key West, Florida. But if you’re on a tight budget, you might not want to read on. The breathtaking lodge previously owned by an undisclosed rockstar comprises a three-story timber structure with three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. The top open floor, which houses the gourmet kitchen, dining area, living and lounge space, offers beautiful 360-degree views of the ocean. Lucky guests will be able to choose between a dip in the pristine beaches or the adjacent freshwater pool. Related: For $2.3 million, this breathtaking self-sufficient Scottish island could be yours The home, which is listed for $6,900,000, is perfect for wealthy folks looking to go off grid . In addition to its integrated solar system and backup generator, there’s also a desalination water system. Add in all-you-can-eat seafood, and off-grid living has never been so luxurious. + Engel & Völkers Florida Keys Via Uncrate  

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