48 thoughts on “Trump’s climate obstruction, inspired by Big Oil

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  5. The Kids Suing the Government Over Climate Change Are Our Best Hope Now (Slate)

    Meet the kids suing the US government for ruining the earth for future generations (Business Insider)

    After Obama, Trump May Face Children Suing Over Global Warming (Bloomberg)

    Landmark U.S. Federal Climate Lawsuit (Our Children’s Trust)

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  7. Friday 9th June 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    Reneging on the Paris Agreement will be trickier than Trump thought, says DOMINIQUE NOTH

    ON JUNE 1, US President Donald Trump announced something he really can’t do overnight — pull out of the Paris Accord — and he dumped a ton of erroneous statistics on listeners that came from a front group for the coal industry.

    The day before, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker patiently tried to explain to Trump “that’s not how it works.”

    “The Americans can’t just leave the climate protection agreement,” he said in a speech. “Mr Trump believes that because he doesn’t get close enough to the dossiers to fully understand them. It would take three to four years after the agreement came into force in November 2016. The law is the law and it must be obeyed.”

    Legal experts actually cite November 2020 as the earliest day of departure, though announcement of his intent does huge damage to the climate change accord.

    It has already been formally ratified by 144 out of 195 agreeing countries and now it looks like China, India and the EU are going to step up to be the leading ships, which might translate into more jobs and technology advances for their countries, leaving the US swimming in their wake.

    The psychological damage as well as the economic repercussions remain immense. Some smaller countries may pull back because the US is not taking the lead. But, even aside from that, the working group Trump has assembled to leave the accord has several problems.

    Former US president Barrack Obama signed an executive order but the underlying root was a convention the US Senate reaffirmed under president George HW Bush. It is known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    The Paris Accord stems from that and is totally voluntary — except for legal requirements that countries publicly monitor, verify and report what they are doing, and also put forth updated plans on their initial pledges.

    There was clearly a shaming pressure to not seem the international laggards, which Trump has now enthusiastically embraced. Any suggestion by him that he’ll renegotiate was immediately scotched by Europe’s biggest powers in a joint statement.

    As the New York Times noted in 2015, there was a political shrewdness in Obama’s involvement. The hybrid legal structure of the Paris Agreement was explicitly designed to accommodate the political reality in the United States.

    A deal that would have assigned legal requirements for countries to cut emissions at specific levels would need to go before the Senate for ratification. Such language would have been dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate. So Obama set standards to match or lead the world.

    Trump can pull back on those standards, but not on the five year reporting agreement, so his failures will be universally seen and shamed.

    To get out, he has assembled a working group under Scott Pruitt, his bizarre climate-denialist choice to head the Environment Protection Agency, that has to decide whether to just pull out of the Paris Accord, which takes years to unwind, or try to pull out of the underlying UNFCCC treaty, which would technically require advice and consent from a Senate growing uneasy about Trump’s machinations.

    In his speech, Trump wielded a much outdated and debunked report by the National Economic Research Associates, which researchers have long uncovered as funded by a front group for the coal industry.

    Coal, incidentally, doesn’t benefit from Trump’s pullout — its problems are economic competition. But Trump is exploiting the industry’s fears.

    The statistics Trump pounded out as justification in a rambling speech offered paragraph after paragraph about job losses and economic costs that have been refuted since by respected studies on both the left and the right — as well as by scientific groups directly. Many scientists actually thought the Paris Accord not strong enough.

    From California to New York to the mayor of Pittsburgh, there were initial reactions from many businesses and states that despite Trump they are moving ahead with action on greenhouse gas emissions.

    Obama could have expressed anger at the attack on one of his prime achievements, but he took the high and thoughtful road.

    “The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” he said.

    “I believe the United States should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of [US] leadership — even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future — I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

    In contrast, when criticising the US commitment to improve the climate globally, Trump seemed most concerned at being jeered at. “We don’t want other countries laughing at us anymore,” he said. But they are only getting warmed up.


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  13. http://www.routefifty.com/infrastructure/2017/08/white-house-sea-level-rise-infrastructure/140271/
    > The White House Doesn’t Think Sea Level Rise Is Important to U.S. Infrastructure
    > August 15, 2017
    > In New York City, Far Rockaway, Queens, was flooded by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Shutterstock
    > The latest climate change rule on President Trump’s chopping block: preparing for a rise in sea level.
    > Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday (Aug 15) that rescinds an Obama-era order requiring government agencies to take into account future sea-level rise when building federal infrastructure.
    > The intent is to “streamline the current process” for infrastructure permits, one official told Reuters . But experts say the move is likely to result in more federal spending on disaster relief and infrastructure repairs down the line.
    > per source, WH has confirmed they will rescind Obama order that flood-prone infrastructure be built with sea-level rise in mind

    > — Zack Colman (@zcolman) 8:27 AM – Aug 15, 2017
    > Obama’s order required federal agencies take into account the “best-available science” on sea-level rise when designing new buildings and public works, and to elevate infrastructure in flood-risk areas by two feet above the height a major flood in that area might reach. More critical infrastructure, like hospitals, would need to be elevated three feet.
    > The National Association of Home Builders were among the groups that balked at the order, saying it would raise construction costs. But revoking it would be “a fiscally irresponsible decision that is a disaster for taxpayers,” Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank that advocates for free-market solutions to climate change, told Bloomberg .
    > Many expected Trump to nix the flood-resilience order back in March, when he issued his first climate change executive order. According to an E&E News reporter , the rollback was in the draft of that order, but was cut at the last moment, perhaps after pushback from experts .
    > “I think they will meet a lot of resistance from agencies that will have to live with these facilities for decades to come,” Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, told me in March. “The Navy, by definition, has nothing but coastal facilities. Some of them already have water lapping up on their shores.”
    > He’s right. A 2016 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that three feet of sea- level rise—an amount NASA considers inevitable —threatens to submerge 128 military bases by 2100 .
    > At Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia, an uptick in flooding has already caused officials to shut off electricity supplies to docks during high-water events. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recorded 15 inches of sea-level rise in that area since 1927—the most extreme sea-level rise on the East Coast, according to North Carolina Public Radio .
    > “The administration can revoke federal orders but they can’t revoke the laws of physics,” Gerrard said. “It’s deeply fiscally irresponsible to put taxpayer funded facilities at risk like that.”

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  15. Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:19 pm (PDT) . Posted by:
    “raccoon” redwoodsaurus
    > http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-administration-continues-to-bulldoze-environmental_us_599b1651e4b0ac90f2cba8f2?section=us_green
    > Trump Administration Continues to Bulldoze Environmental Regulations
    > Amid the global outcry over President Trump’s remarks that sought to legitimize white supremacists at a press conference earlier this week, we almost missed the fact that Trump rolled-back Obama administration rules to improve the resilience of federally-financed buildings and infrastructure in flood-prone areas and to update important flood risk management standards. In 2015, President Obama required new infrastructure to be built two feet above the 100 year flood plain and three feet for critical infrastructure like hospitals and evacuation centers, and also updated standards that guide flood insurance rates. Beyond undoing these regulatory actions, President Trump announced a new effort to streamline environmental review processes for new infrastructure projects.
    > The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates flooding has caused some $260 billion in damages from 1980 to 2013. And in the past decade, flood insurance claims now total $1.6 billion annually, putting further pressure on the already deeply-indebted flood insurance system . As climate change increases both inland flooding and coastal sea level rise, scientists expect flooding to only worsen.
    > To address increased risks, the Obama administration required federally-financed projects to factor in climate change projections. Now, with a stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has not only put communities at greater risk, but likely reduced the lifespan of infrastructure in flood-prone areas, and their financial efficiency and effectiveness as well.
    > Former FEMA official Rafael Lemaitre, told Reuters the Obama-era rules were “‘the most significant action taken in a generation’ to safeguard U.S. infrastructure. ‘Eliminating this requirement is self-defeating; we can either build smarter now, or put taxpayers on the hook to pay exponentially more when it floods. And it will.’”
    > And in New Jersey, which was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, there was disbelief. John Miller, New Jersey Association of Flood Plain Management, told NJ Spotlight the Obama-era rule was a “solid idea.” He added: “We are going to have worsening conditions. We have to build to future conditions.’’
    > According to Reuters, both the American Petroleum Institute and the National Association of Home Builders praised the move to roll-back the flood risk management standards to the earlier version established by President Carter in 1977, arguing that the Obama-era rules on managing flood risk increased housing costs.
    > The Obama administration stated that the new standards would only raise housing costs by 0.25 to 1.25 percent, but Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham, from Louisiana, who sponsored legislation that would have blocked Obama’s flood standard, told The New York Times the new rules “would have increased the cost of a new home in Louisiana by 25 percent to 30 percent, because most of the state would be put in a federal flood plain.” The overall effect, however, may be to increase risk, as communities continue to live and build in flood plains not be characterized as risky, and then fail to qualify for federal assistance when disaster invariably strikes.
    > The Morning Email
    > Wake up to the day’s most important news.
    > In a new fact sheet on infrastructure that lays of the Trump administration’s vision for investing $200 billion in the 2018 budget, Trump administration officials took aim at what they describe as onerous environmental review processes for infrastructure projects. “The environmental review and permitting process in the United States is fragmented, inefficient, and unpredictable. Existing statutes have important and laudable objectives, but the lack of cohesiveness in their execution make the delivery of infrastructure projects more costly, unpredictable, and time-consuming, all while adding little environmental protection.”
    > At his shocking press conference, Trump said a complex highway project can take up to 17 years (but didn’t cite an actual example of this). He called the current approach a “disgrace.” His goal is to reduce environmental reviews for a project to two years and centralize management through a “one Federal review” in which one government agency takes the lead on a project.
    > Trump said: “It’s going to be quick. It’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if [a project] doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it — very simple.”
    > According to BloombergPolitics , the new order “allows the Office of Management and Budget to establish goals for environmental reviews and permitting of infrastructure projects and then track their progress — with automatic elevation to senior agency officials when deadlines are missed or extended. The order calls for tracking the time and costs of conducting environmental reviews and making permitting decisions, and it allows the budget office to consider penalties for agencies that fail to meet established milestones.”
    > Environmental groups were uniformly opposed to the effort to streamline federal environmental reviews, arguing that a two-year time frame may result in more wasteful and risky projects with damaging environmental impacts.
    > Republicans argue that excessive regulations are holding up infrastructure projects, while Democrats may agree that some regulations could be streamlined, but, really, the primary issue is there isn’t enough public investment. ABC News reports that a Treasury Department report released earlier this year found “a lack of public funding is by far the most common factor hindering completion” of infrastructure projects.
    > In other federal environmental and climate news: Scientists from 13 federal agencies released a draft of the National Climate Assessment , which Congress mandates be updated every four years. The New York Times writes: “The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change. The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, the authors write, making recent record-setting years ‘relatively common’ in the near future.” Perhaps the best that can be hoped for with this administration is the draft review process will be allowed to continue on auto-pilot without political interference.
    > At the department of interior, The Nation writes, a purge of climate experts is underway, while the word “climate” is being scrubbed from program titles.
    > And at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): the agency is now implementing national ambient air quality standards, rules created by the Obama administration in 2015, after 15 states and a number of leading organizations sued . Still, there are other worrying developments: Administrator Scott Pruitt’s agenda to reduce regulations and cut staff is largely happening in secret . But that may change: the California attorney general just sued the EPA in attempt to force them to explain how Pruitt will handle conflicts of interest with the fossil fuel industry.

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