Inhofe’s Flying Monkeys Attack, Poisoning Air, Water, Climate
March 15, 2017
Snowstorm. Proof there can’t be any global warming. We’ll be looking for Senator Jim Inhofe to bring another snowball into the Senate.
As I posted yesterday, public concern about environment and climate has never been higher- just as the flying monkeys of the Putin/Trump administration are setting about to turn back the clock to the 1930s.
It’s similar to the rising popularity of ObamaCare, coming just as the Republican congress sets about to dismantle it. There may be some fundamental contradictions here.
There is still some question as to whether the monsters unleashed by Trump’s election can really do everything they have promised their wealthy donor, but it won’t be from lack of trying.
It all comes down to whether people have the will to resist.
For more than a decade, Sen. James M. Inhofe has raged against the scientific consensus that humans are fueling climate change, calling it “the greatest hoax” ever perpetrated on Americans. The Oklahoma Republican has blasted the Environmental Protection Agency as an “activist organization” that has unfairly burdened everyone from farmers to fossil-fuel companies.
Now the man critics once dismissed as a political outlier has an unprecedented opportunity to shape the nation’s energy and environmental policies. And he has helped populate the upper ranks of the agency he has derided with several of his closest confidants.
At least half a dozen former aides to Inhofe — and counting — have been hired into top positions at the EPA and the White House. The chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a fellow Oklahoman and longtime friend of Inhofe, spent years working for the senator. Pruitt’s senior advisers on air, climate and legal issues are Inhofe alumni. In addition, two former Inhofe aides have become top domestic and international energy and environmental advisers to President Trump.
“It gives me a level of comfort to know that we have a bureaucracy that’s actually going to be serving instead of ruling,” Inhofe said in an interview this week, describing his former staffers as qualified professionals who will protect the environment. “They are going to be very realistic. They’re going to do it in a way that will not be punitive. The previous administration was almost looking for ways to punish people.”
President Trump will travel to Detroit on Wednesday to announce a rollback of stringent fuel economy standards for cars and trucks that were put in place by the Obama administration — a welcome message to American automakers but one that could slow the push for a new generation of efficient vehicles.
The fuel-economy rules, aimed at cutting heat-trapping carbon dioxide, were one of the two main pillars of President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy. Put forth in 2012, they would have required automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, forcing automakers to speed development of highly fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrid and electric cars.
The rules have been widely praised by environmentalists and energy economists for reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and its greenhouse pollution. If put fully into effect, the fuel efficiency standards would have cut oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels and reduced carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of all the cars affected by the regulations.
That would have been a little more than the amount of oil consumed and carbon pollution produced by the United States in a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
It’s pointed out here that this is not a one step process, and given the timeline needed, there is plenty of room for public pressure to affect the process. And, a year from now, – it will be an election year.
But the official cautioned that the Trump administration is not committing to roll back the standards at this point. Any changes would require a formal rulemaking process, which would likely take a year or more and could be subject to lawsuits from environmentalists and other opponents.
The order will be the latest in a line of orders and actions from Trump to repeal or weaken Obama environmental regulations.
Trump last month ordered the EPA to begin the process of repealing Obama’s Clean Water Rule. EPA head Scott Pruitt has canceled a regulation on chemical plant safety and an effort to gather data for a potential methane emissions rule for oil and natural gas drilling.
Trump has proposed cutting a quarter of the EPA’s budget, and is expected to sign an order as soon as this week to start undoing the Clean Power Plan, the coal leasing moratorium on federal land and other climate change programs.
The president’s announcement alone will not be enough to roll back the standards; that will take more than a year of legal and regulatory reviews by the E.P.A. and the Transportation Department. The Trump administration will then propose its replacement fuel-economy standards by April of next year, according to a senior White House official.
The Motor City announcement is the first of an expected one-two punch from Mr. Trump aimed at undercutting Mr. Obama’s climate change policies. Mr. Trump is also expected to announce in the coming weeks that he intends to direct the E.P.A. to dismantle Mr. Obama’s regulations on planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants.
The announcements follow public remarks last week by the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, that he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary driver of global warming, a statement at odds with the global scientific consensus on climate change.
“These announcements mean that Mr. Trump is going to live up to his campaign vows, reversing course on climate, destroying much of the Obama legacy in this realm, and increasing these levels of harmful emissions,” said Richard Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard University.
Mr. Stavins and other experts noted that these policies would make it impossible for the United States to meet Mr. Obama’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the landmark accord that committed nearly every nation to reducing greenhouse pollution. Mr. Obama’s pledge that the United States would reduce its emissions about 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 was dependent upon the enactment of the stringent regulations on tailpipe and smokestack pollution.
Meanwhile, for those that have the inclination, EPA still has a page of climate data – that is, hint, hint, downloadable.