Environmental News Round-Up

I promised myself I would write a blog entry every day for a month. I missed three days over the weekend and I do want to keep on track. However, today's news left me feeling omnipotent with rage and I feel incapable of expressing myself coherently. After finishing work, I spent two hours blasting Nine Inch Nails and reorganizing my bedroom. I seethed and I read every article I could on what was happening to the EPA. Also, Badlands National Park you guys are my heroes today for resisting the media blackout on the Department of the Interior. 

Instead of a post on travel or a specific environmental issue, I am giving you an environmental news round-up. For a great source of environmental news please go to High Country News. They will continue to report on climate change in the west even as our federal government transitions into an administration of denial. 

  • EPA required to temporarily halt all contracts, interagency agreements, and grants pending review. The EPA awards over $4 billion in grants and other assistance agreements. 
  • Media blackout on EPA, USDA and Department of Interior. Staffers at the EPA's public affairs office must forward all inquiries to the Office of Administration and Resource Management. The memo sent out to some EPA staff read: "No press releases will be going out to external audiences.No social media will be going out. A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media. Existing, individually controlled, social media accounts may become more centrally controlled. No blog messages. The Beach Team will review the list of upcoming webinars and decide which ones will go forward. Please send me a list of any external speaking engagements that are currently scheduled among any of your staff from today through February. Incoming media requests will be carefully screened. No new content can be placed on any website. Only do clean up where essential. List servers will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press." While freezes on government agencies during a presidential transition is not unprecedented, the breadth of the freeze is something that people at the agency say they've never experienced before. The freeze is supposed to be over by the end of the week. 
  • Keystone XL and DAPL are to move forward, and Trump owned stock in Energy Transfer Partners, which he claims to have sold in June, but we have no way of knowing this until he releases his tax and financial records. 
  • Ryan Zinke, the president's pick for heading the Department of the Interior, when asked about the cause of climate change responded, "There's a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle." To which, Bernie Sanders quipped, "Actually, there's not a whole lot of debate now. The scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is real and causing devastating problems." Zinke continues to support the oxymoronic clean coal. Forty percent of American coal comes from the Powder River Mine, located mostly in Montana, where Zinke is from, and Wyoming. Scott Pruitt answered in a similar manner when Sanders put the question to him. 

  • Flint no longer has lead levels over the federal limit. 

  • Trump's convoluted energy plan claims to erase the 2013 Climate Action Plan, which was designed to slash greenhouse gases by 30 percent. Additionally, he plans to undo the Clean Water Rule. Why? Because it will increase worker wages' by $30 billion over 7 years. Does he have data to back this up? Of course not, we're living in the world of alternative facts. His plan includes increasing natural gas production, which is the leading cause of reduced demand in the coal industry, another energy industry Trump plans on revitalizing. Contradictory much?