Trump waives dozens of environmental laws to speed construction of his wall

August 3, 2017 by  
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An anonymous official revealed two weeks ago that Trump intends to decimate the “crown jewel” of the national refuge system in order to build his border wall. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has announced it would disregard dozens of environmental rules in order to rush construction, which could start as soon as January. Workers have already been on site to prepare for building. The government is allowed to waive environmental requirements in order to build infrastructure, including skirting the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. In order to avoid dealing with private land owners, Trump’s wall is slated to start in the Santa Ana refuge, and while building in any refuge would be awful for the environment, the Sant Ana refuge is particularly devastating because it is home to the endangered ocelot, jaguar and jaguarondi. It is also one of the most cherished bird refuges in the US. “The lower Rio Grande is a national treasure for birds,” said Michael J. Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy . Related: “Crown jewel” wildlife refuge to be decimated as Trump starts building border wall Funding for the wall has already been approved by the House and now it is heading to the Senate for approval. It includes a provision for rebuilding the wall in San Diego, which was built just a decade ago. “Replacing the San Diego border wall only a decade after it was built shows that the border wall has always been stupid, ineffective and incredibly expensive,” Brian Segee, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said. “Trump’s border wall would compound this travesty by dividing and destroying more communities, wildlife and wild places.” Meanwhile, one of the most incredible bird watching refuges in the US stands to be split in half by the wall unless the Senate is convinced to kill funding. Via Grist Images via Flickr , Wikimedia and Wikimedia

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Trump waives dozens of environmental laws to speed construction of his wall

US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change

July 21, 2017 by  
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Is the Donald Trump administration reassigning employees who speak out on the dangers of climate change ? Joel Clement, former Office of Policy Analysis director at the Department of the Interior (DOI), seems to think so. He penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post saying he was moved into an “unrelated job in the accounting office.” He said he’s a scientist and policy expert, not an accountant – “…but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up.” Clement said he began working in the DOI almost seven years ago, and worked with communities in Alaska to help them prepare for the impacts of climate change. On June 15, he received a letter informing him of his reassignment to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration.” He was one of around 50 senior employees to receive a letter, and was shuffled to the role of senior adviser in the Office of Natural Resources Revenue – an office he said gathers royalty checks from fossil fuel companies. Related: Trump launches “witch hunt” for government employees who worked on climate change policy Clement’s background is not in accounting. He has a Master of Environmental Studies degree in Forest Sciences and Canopy Biology from The Evergreen State College . But he said he spoke out on the challenges stemming from climate change that Alaska Native communities face in the months before his reassignment, even bringing the threat up with White House officials. Clement said in his op-ed, “It is clear to me that the administration was so uncomfortable with this work, and my disclosures, that I was reassigned with the intent to coerce me into leaving the federal government.” Indeed, a few days following his reassignment, new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before Congress that reassignments might be used to eliminate employees. Clement suggested Zinke might think fed-up employees might quit, and said he has colleagues who are being moved to other locations in the country, at taxpayer expense, to jobs that don’t align well with their skill set. Clement said the Kivalina, Shishmaref , and Shaktoolik villages are “one superstorm from being washed away.” He wrote, “I believe that every president, regardless of party, has the right and responsibility to implement his policies. But that is not what is happening here. Putting citizens in harm’s way isn’t the president’s right…The threat to these Alaska Native communities is not theoretical. This is not a policy debate.” Read Clement’s full piece here . Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change

"Crown jewel" wildlife refuge is about to be decimated as Trump starts border wall

July 19, 2017 by  
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A 2,000 acre wildlife area known as the “crown jewel” of the national refuge system is about to be gutted as Trump begins construction on his border wall . US Customs and Border patrol has quietly been preparing to start the 18-foot tall border wall in the Santa Ana National Refuge in southern Texas, according to an anonymous official. The refuge is home to 400 bird species and hundreds of animals, including the endangered ocelot – but if the wall is constructed as planned, it will decimate the sanctuary. UCB has been working quietly under the radar to start the project. One official, however, felt that the project shouldn’t start without public input. “This should be public information,” the official told the  Texas Observer . “There shouldn’t be government officials meeting in secret just so they don’t have to deal with the backlash. The public has the right to know about these plans.” Related: Mexican architect proposes stunning purple bridge in defiant response to Trump’s border wall The Department of Homeland Security picked the refuge as the place to start the border wall because it is already owned by the federal government, so there is no conflict with private land owners to worry about. This week, workers have been drilling to extract soil samples in order to prepare for construction, would could begin in January. The wall will be 18-feet-tall and 3-miles-long through the refuge. In order to accommodate a road along the south of the wall, along with light and surveillance towers, the refuge land will be cleared, devastating all fauna and flora. “Republicans are making a grave mistake supporting Trump’s bizarre fantasy of a border wall,” said Brian Segee, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Throwing billions of dollars at the border wall boondoggle and demolishing an iconic wildlife refuge won’t make our country safer. But it will be a disaster for people and communities, and tragically sacrifice the fragile borderlands environment and endangered species like jaguars and ocelots.” Via the Texas Observer images via the US Fish and Wildlife Service

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"Crown jewel" wildlife refuge is about to be decimated as Trump starts border wall

Trump approves new pipeline that will go right under the US-Mexico wall

June 30, 2017 by  
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As if President Trump’s promise to build a wall on the United States-Mexico border wasn’t controversial enough, he recently approved the construction of a new pipeline destined to go “right under” the dividing landmark. The New Burgos Pipeline will carry up to 108,000 barrels of refined petroleum products each day between McAllen, Texas and Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. A joint venture between NuStar Energy LP and PMI, the project has, unsurprisingly, drawn plenty of criticism from environmental groups. According to The Hill , Trump remarked on the New Burgos Pipeline on Thursday at the Department of Energy’s “Unleashing American Energy” event. “[The pipeline] will further boost American energy exports, and that will go right under the wall, right?” said Trump, glancing at his cabinet for confirmation. “We have to dig down a little deeper under that section,” he added. President Mike Pence, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, Energy Sec. Rick Perry and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt also joined the President on stage. Though President Trump’s 17-minute speech focused on America’s “ energy dominance,” he failed to mention the rapidly growing renewable energy sector. Not even once did he mention his infamous “solar” border wall proposal . Rather, he paid homage to “clean, beautiful coal” and celebrated the newly approved pipeline. As EcoWatch points out, Trump also dismissed concerns about fossil fuels , calling them “a big beautiful myth.” In his speech, Trump also mentioned the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, falsely stating that no opposition exists to their development. Noticeably perturbed by the new development, David Turnbull, campaigns director at Oil Change International , said: “The ‘energy dominance’ tagline should be called out for what it is: another manifestation of the president’s misogynistic, hyper-masculine, abusive outlook on the world. It reveals an attitude toward our environment and energy policy that would destroy communities and our climate in order to feed his own desire to feel powerful over others.” “Want to know what Trump’s idea of energy dominance looks like? Look no further than his crony cabinet,” Turnbull continued. “Thanks to this administration, Washington is more dominated by Big Oil, Gas and Coal executives and their shills than ever—and they’re having their way with American democracy. Someone should put the leash back on Donald Trump, while the rest of us keep working to make America the leader it needs to be in renewable energy innovation and job creation.” Related: Trump actually wants to build a border wall covered in solar panels Tim Donaghy, Greenpeace USA’s senior research specialist, had similar sentiments. He said, “People in this country demanded that President Obama protect public lands and waters from offshore oil and gas development, and communities from Alaska to South Carolina will do it again. Research shows that expanding offshore oil drilling will lead to increased global greenhouse gas emissions and higher costs that will be borne by Americans for decades to come.” In response to the news, Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch , asked local governments to invest in clean energy development. She said, ”A better vision for American energy exists, but it isn’t coming from the White House. Climate leadership and the transition to renewable energy will come from the local and state level, and we must continue to pressure elected officials around the country to commit to a transition to a clean energy future, starting now.” Via The Hill , EcoWatch Images via Sky News , Pixabay

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Trump approves new pipeline that will go right under the US-Mexico wall

Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO before denying pesticide ban

June 28, 2017 by  
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If anyone is still hoping the Donald Trump administration will put the environment before industries, new reports should put that to rest. Back in March the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided they wouldn’t ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos , a big cash cow for Dow Chemical that’s also been shown to harm children’s brains in health studies, including an EPA review. But apparently there was no chance the EPA would prioritize children above businesses. The Associated Press (AP) recently learned EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met privately with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris shortly before the decision to not ban the pesticide . Polluting industries champion Pruitt met with Liveris on March 9 for around half an hour in Houston, according to Pruitt’s schedule. EPA spokesperson Liz Bowman said they were “briefly introduced” and did not talk about chlorpyrifos. But 20 days later the EPA announced they wouldn’t ban that brain development-interfering pesticide after all. Related: Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers Scientists have repeatedly shown chlorpyrifos can have a negative impact on child brain development, according to Gizmodo. EPA scientists also said even in small doses the chemical can interfere with child brain development – and they also said levels of the chemical found in food were higher than what would be deemed safe. As if that wasn’t enough, federal scientists found chlorpyrifos – along with two other chemicals Dow manufactures, diazinon and malathion – are harmful for nearly 1,800 endangered or critically endangered species. And the AP found out lawyers representing Dow and two other pesticide-manufacturing companies sent letters to the EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Department of Commerce requesting they set aside those study results as they were “fundamentally flawed.” In 2016 Dow Chemical spent over $13.6 million on lobbying. They sell around five million pounds of chlorpyrifos in the United States every year. They also donated $1 million for Trump’s inauguration festivities, although Dow’s director of public affairs Rachelle Schikorra told the AP the idea the donation was meant to influence decisions is “completely off the mark.” Guess they gave that $1 million donation out of the goodness of their hearts then. Via the Associated Press ( 1 , 2 ), Gizmodo , and Vanity Fair Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO before denying pesticide ban

Trump’s EPA moves to kill Obama’s Clean Water Rule

June 28, 2017 by  
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In the battle of Trump vs the environment, the latter is definitely losing. Regulations giving the federal government better ability to protect our precious streams and wetlands were essentially killed yesterday after Trump’s EPA took the first step in repealing the Clean Water Rule set into motion by Obama in 2015. The rule would have protected the navigable waterways and  drinking water of 1 in 3 Americans. Oil ally Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, said: “We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses.” However, the Rule was passed in 2015 specifically to address regulatory certainty. Before the Rule, the federal government’s ability to regulate pollution in certain waters was unclear. Related: EPA chief says carbon dioxide is not a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming The Clean Water Rule was put in place to help clarify those convoluted regulations that inadequately protected the nation’s waterways. The Obama administration put the regulation in place after 1,200 peer reviewed studies were completed, and recommendations were formed to protect the country’s waterways from pollution. But industry chafed at the regulation, claiming it was onerous, and it was put on hold after 13 states sued the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Trump ordered the EPA to review the rule, calling it, in his typically eloquent style, “horrible, horrible” and a “massive power grab.” Via ThinkProgress images via Unsplash and Gage Skidmore  

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Trump’s EPA moves to kill Obama’s Clean Water Rule

Cities rebel against Trump by posting climate data his EPA took down

June 26, 2017 by  
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Around two months ago the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Donald Trump took down climate change information that had been on their website. American cities decided to reinstate the archived data, which has been painstakingly curated for decades, on their own websites – including major urban areas like Chicago , Atlanta, and Houston. Chicago got the Climate Change is Real party started by reposting EPA climate change data on a new city website in May. The banner of their site acknowledges the EPA and other federal agencies for decades of labor on environmental issues, stating, “While this information may not be readily available on the EPA’s website, in Chicago we know climate change is real. We are joining cities around the country to make sure citizens have access to information on climate change. We will continue to take action to adapt to climate threats while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels .” Related: Trump to purge climate change from federal government The city also posted a guide on GitHub enabling other cities to post the data as well, and so far 14 other cities have followed suit. Burlington, Vermont recently became the 14th city to post the data; Mayor Miro Weinberger said in a June 19 statement, “Climate change is real, and deleting federal web pages that contain years’ worth of research does not alter this global, scientific consensus.” The EPA reportedly took the information down for review. Chicago’s GitHub guide for other cities offers “copies of the climate change websites, data, and other information that was unceremoniously removed from the Environmental Protection Agency.” St. Louis, Missouri; New Orleans, Louisiana; and San Francisco, California are among the 14 other cities that have since posted the information. You can see if your city is on the list here . Via Grist Images via Ferdinand Stöhr on Unsplash and screenshot

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Cities rebel against Trump by posting climate data his EPA took down

Trump nominates BP oil spill lawyer as DOJ environmental attorney

June 8, 2017 by  
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Who better to stand for the environment than a lawyer who represented BP after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy? At least, that appears to be President Donald Trump’s logic. This week he nominated Jeffrey Bossert Clark , who has consistently worked against climate action , for the role of Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources at the Department of Justice . Clark is a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C. Over his career he’s challenged the scientific basis of climate policies , according to InsideClimateNews. His career is littered with work against the environment, not for it. He successfully defended BP after Louisiana parishes challenged the company over their multi-billion settlement of claims over Deepwater Horizon. But representing BP after America’s worst oil spill is just part of it. Related: Trump budget proposes 31% cut to EPA funding Clark represented the United States Chamber of Commerce in lawsuits attacking the government’s power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions . He’s argued in court multiple times it’s inappropriate to form government policies based on scientific consensus given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change . InsideClimateNews said Clark was prominently involved in challenges from industry to the Environmental Protection Agency’s endangerment finding offering a scientific basis for efforts to regulate greenhouse gases . Natural Resources Defense Council Director of the Climate & Clean Air Program David Doniger said of Clark, “He has a long history of opposing climate action for corporate and ideological clients. I would expect that history would require him to recuse himself from cases as over the Clean Power Plan , where he filed an amicus brief against the rule.” In the George W. Bush administration Clark served as deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department, from 2001 to 2005. Senate confirmation is required for him to serve in the Trump administration . Via InsideClimateNews Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Trump actually wants to build a border wall covered in solar panels

June 7, 2017 by  
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For all of the crazy concepts that people have come up with for Trump’s border wall , Trump’s own design might just be the most surprising of all. The climate change-Denier-in-Chief recently pitched to congressional Republicans the idea of building a renewable power-generating border wall covered in solar panels. According to Trump, the barriers would be “beautiful structures” that will pay for themselves. When Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate agreement , he claimed that it would somehow continue to be the greenest country in the world. According to Axios , Trump intends to do that by proposing a border wall that will generate clean energy. The energy that will be generated by the wall will be used to pay for itself. Related: Donald Trump would probably hate this crossable border wall Trump pictures the wall as a 50-foot high structure covered in solar panels . Realistically, a solar wall along the southern border has a lot of logistical challenges, though it could be possible to build a one that pays for itself. During the meeting, Trump told congressional representatives that they could talk about the solar wall as long as they mentioned that it was his idea (it wasn’t). While this latest concept may be an improvement on the border wall in general, talking about the wall is really just a distraction from the conversation about whether or not there should be a wall at all. On the bright side, at least we know now that Trump thinks solar is a viable and cost-effective technology for government projects, right? Via GTM Images via Gleason Partners and Flickr

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Trump actually wants to build a border wall covered in solar panels

Giant glass orb in Paris is wrapped with a rotating solar sail that follows the sun

June 7, 2017 by  
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Architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines teamed up to create the stunning, solar-powered Seine Musicale located on Seguin Island in Paris. The shimmering glass globe is framed within by Ban’s beloved timber , and its exterior is wrapped with a massive solar panel “sail” that rotates around the building to follow the sun. Located in Paris’ Boulogne-Billancourt suburb, the urban project is part of Jean Nouvel’s Island Master Plan for Seguin Island . The multi-use building comprises a concert seating hall with a capacity of 4,000, a classical music hall that seats 1,150, along with various rehearsal and recording rooms. Additionally, the building is surrounded by ample green space for visitors and practicing musicians. Related: Elliptical Music Pavilion in Austria is made from locally-sourced silver fir Although the exterior is clad in glass panels, that doesn’t mean that timber-loving Ban has forsaken his green building material of choice. The hexagonal globe frame, including the building’s beehive ceiling, is made out of timber. However, the star feature of the design is undoubtedly the massive triangular sail covered in solar panels. The sail will constantly rotate, following the path of the sun in order to provide the building with optimal solar energy throughout the day. The large covering also acts as a solar shield for the building’s all-glass Grand Foyer. A spokesperson from Shigeru Ban Architects explained that the building’s design was carefully crafted to fit into Nouvel’s urban plan for the area, hopefully becoming an eco-friendly icon for the developing area, “This environmentally friendly sail will ultimately become a new identity for the complex. It is expected to become a new symbol as the western gate into Paris.” + Shigeru Ban + Jean de Gastines Via Arch Daily Photographs via Luc Boegly & Sergio Grazia

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Giant glass orb in Paris is wrapped with a rotating solar sail that follows the sun

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