Trump begins process of rolling back Obama-era clean water rule

March 1, 2017 by  
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As part of his ongoing campaign to repeal and undermine many of Barack Obama’s environmental accomplishments, yesterday President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA to roll back a 2015 regulation known as “Waters of the United States” rule. The regulation gives the federal government the authority to limit pollution in major bodies of water, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Trump’s executive order, on its own, can’t repeal the rule. However, he’s directed the controversial new EPA head, Scott Pruitt, to begin the complex legal process of rescinding and rewriting the rule, which the New York Times writes could take longer than Trump’s first term to actually carry out. The rule was originally created to clear up confusion about the federal government’s authority in regulating streams, wetlands, and major bodies of water after a series of court decisions created legal confusion. Related: New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties Though the rule was put forward jointly by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, many business owners in industries including property development, oil and gas , and fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing claim it stifles economic growth. Environmentalists, on the other hand, contend that it will help provide healthier drinking water and cleaner natural areas to people around the nation. This isn’t the only environmental executive order Trump’s expected to sign in the near future. Reports are also circulating that in the coming week he’ll sign a similar order directing the EPA to dismantle Obama’s 2015 climate change regulations as well. Via NRDC Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Trump begins process of rolling back Obama-era clean water rule

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

Scott Pruitt attacks critics and EPA employees in first speech

February 22, 2017 by  
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In this first address to the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency , newly-appointed chief Scott Pruitt didn’t give any rousing remarks about fighting global warming or protecting the planet. Instead, he used the opportunity to strike back at everyone who opposed his controversial candidacy for the position over recent weeks, and laid out a vision that seems to undermine everything the agency stands for . In an address lasting less than 20 minutes, Pruitt described his vision of an EPA that works closely with industrial companies before enacting anti-pollution regulations in order to make it easier for them to comply. (That sound be simple for Pruitt’s EPA – it’s much easier to comply with regulations that simply don’t exist, such as the stream protection rule recently repealed by Congress.) He made no mention of climate change or environmental destruction at all. He did, however, address one unsurprising topic: the EPA’s staff and their opposition to the Trump administration . He bashed the agency for its past actions, which he sees as outside of its legal mandate, and for denying states the right to set their own legislation. Considering that Pruitt has made his name suing the agency 13 times , the verbal assault was more or less to be expected. Related: PA workers openly fight against potential Pruitt confirmation EPA staffers aren’t taking their new boss’s word lying down. One has already blasted it as “condescending and hypocritical” in an anonymous interview with Mother Jones . One Obama-era communications staffer, Liz Purchia, agreed, saying, “Accomplishing agency priorities was no easy task when the administrator had staff’s back and politicals and careers agreed the majority of the time, so let’s see how well Trump’s EPA does getting staff to follow them when they feel disrespected. These are professionals with years of experience, who have been made to feel like their leader doesn’t trust their judgment.” Considering that EPA workers are already in open revolt against Pruitt’s leadership and have already been talking anonymously to the press to undermine Trump’s pollution-friendly agenda, it should be interesting to see his approach over the next four years. Via Huffington Post Images via Gage Skidmore

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Scott Pruitt attacks critics and EPA employees in first speech

How this photographer escaped the grid with her tiny Teardrop Trailer

February 22, 2017 by  
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Photographer Mandy Lea won’t let anything stop her from seeing the world. In order to fulfill her “insatiable desire to explore and document the beauty all around us through photography”, Lea packed up her photo gear and hit the road eight months ago in her tiny teardrop trailer – and she hasn’t looked back since. Like many intrepid travelers, Lea decided to change her lifestyle after getting burned out at her job. Deciding to live life on her terms and pursue her passion for photography, she purchased a tiny teal T@G teardrop camper to use as her home on wheels . “It simply called to me,” Lea says. “I couldn’t explain the reasoning; I just knew I had to have it. That. Exact. One.” https://youtu.be/NUjWSHzpg6k Unfortunately, that trailer was stolen shortly after buying it. It was found later thanks to an online plea by Lea that went viral, but, to her dismay, the trailer had been completely trashed. Although heartbroken at the loss, Lea was encouraged by the overwhelming support of total strangers during the ordeal, and decided to follow through on her dreams to travel, this time in her newly-bought, orange-swirled camper she named “The Phoenix”. Related: Italian woman restores old van to travel the world with her rescue dog The camper has all the comforts of a tiny home : indoor shelving, custom-made cabinets and an open kitchen space at the rear of the compact camper . For personal touches to make her feel at home, Lea added a comfy bed, curtains, custom wooden knobs, and a tv. Lea has been on the road for 8 months and has explored 28 states and three countries. In that time, she has photographed some amazing landscapes and come in contact with bears, eagles, coyotes, elk, and even scorpions! You can keep up with Mandy’s travels on her website as well as Facebook , Instagram and YouTube . + Mandy Lea Photo Via Treehugger Images via Mandy Lea

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How this photographer escaped the grid with her tiny Teardrop Trailer

Scott Pruitt confirmed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency

February 17, 2017 by  
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In a major loss for the planet, the US Senate confirmed climate denier Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency that Pruitt has sued numerous times and has promised to render toothless . With no irony at all, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated about Pruitt: “He’s exceptionally qualified. He’s dedicated to environmental protection.” Unfortunately, that’s anything but true. Pruitt calls himself “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” and true to his word, he has worked hard to allow mercury pollution into the environment and coal plants to poison the planet, and has attempted to stop the efforts to clean the Chesapeake Bay. He recently called climate change ” a religious belief ” and has worked to undermine efforts to stop climate change. “Scott Pruitt is the most unqualified and dangerous nominee in the history of the EPA, and the Senators who voted to confirm him have betrayed the American people,” said Tom Seyer of NextGen Climate . According to the Sierra Club , “Pruitt has a long record of ignoring science, assaulting public health safeguards, and holding the agency he now leads in contempt. His confirmation is an environmental and public health disaster.” Related: EPA workers openly fight against potential Pruitt confirmation Thousands of activists have fought to delay Pruitt’s confirmation after a judge ruled that the Oklahoma attorney general office must turn over thousands of emails linking Pruitt to oil and gas companies. Despite their efforts, Pruitt was confirmed along a party-line vote. “Scott Pruitt is a dangerous and cynical choice to head the EPA. He’s a wholly-owned representative of polluters and Audubon will be vigilant as Pruitt sets out to dismantle the agency he heads,” said David Yarnold, Audubon’?s president and CEO. Via CNN images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Scott Pruitt confirmed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency

EPA workers openly fight against potential Pruitt confirmation

February 17, 2017 by  
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With Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt ‘s installation as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head seeming more likely, current EPA employees have taken to their phones and the streets to resist his potential confirmation. They’ve contacted their senators and protested; one expert said he “can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this.” EPA scientists, policy experts, and environmental lawyers are openly opposing the confirmation of a man who’s sued the EPA 14 times – sometimes working with large fossil fuel companies – and can’t come up with even one EPA regulation he supports. The EPA’s union has sent emails and posted on social media exhorting members to take action. EPA employees in Chicago protested on the streets. Related: Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of TechCrunch reported yesterday the EPA posted a snapshot of what their website looked like the day before Donald Trump’s inauguration after receiving numerous requests for the information. Two Democrat senators, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp , said they’ll vote for Pruitt, and only one Republican, Maine’s Susan Collins , said she’ll oppose him. EPA lawyer Nicole Cantello, who’s also the Chicago area union leader, told The New York Times, “It seems like Trump and Pruitt want a complete reversal of what EPA has done. I don’t know if there’s any other agency that’s been so reviled. So it’s in our interests to do this.” Should Pruitt be confirmed, it would be difficult to fire those workers who opposed him due to Civil Service protections, meaning there could be a lot of internal dissension against actions Pruitt aims to take, like dismantling the Clean Power Plan . Former EPA employee Judith Enck told The New York Times, “EPA staff are pretty careful. They’re risk-averse. If people are saying and doing things like this, it’s because they’re really concerned.” Via The New York Times Images via Lorie Shaull on Flickr and Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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EPA workers openly fight against potential Pruitt confirmation

Missouri community is building 50 tiny homes for homeless veterans

February 17, 2017 by  
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The epidemic of homeless veterans has hit numerous communities across the country, but one Missouri town is about to tackle the large problem with a tiny solution. Working with the non-profit Veterans Community Project (VCP), a Kansas City neighborhood is in the process of creating the Veterans Village, a neighborhood of 50 tiny homes built by fellow veterans in order to house their homeless brothers and sisters. As reported by Fox 4 KC , land for the new neighborhood has already been cleared. Working in collaboration with the Veterans Community Project, several local organizations are helping put the tiny home community together. The building team is made up of fellow veterans who are currently constructing 50, 20-foot-long and 240-square-foot tiny homes that will make up the new community. The process is currently on going, but they are shooting for a move in date in late 2017. Related: Tiny House Nation’s Zack Giffin will teach veterans to build their own homes VCP founder and Marine Corps veteran Kevin Jamison explained the inspiration for the initiative to Fox4, “These are my brothers and sisters out there on the streets. We didn’t want to see any veteran suffering. We want to give them something they can stay in, call it their own and then socialize and re-integrate at their own pace.” + Veterans Community Project Via Country Living Images via Veterans Community Project

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Missouri community is building 50 tiny homes for homeless veterans

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