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Climate activists have their next target: The DNC debates

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This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

No city better embodies the challenges of climate change than the setting for the first Democratic debate in June. At least 10 candidates who meet the DNC’s set of polling and grassroots fundraising criteria will take the stage in Miami, a city that will face the threat of encroaching seas on a daily basis in the next 25 years. Many of the climate activists who have spent their time recently urging presidential hopefuls to embrace the Green New Deal and reject donations from fossil fuel industries are preparing for their next battle: pushing for a future presidential debate focused entirely on climate.

Environmental and progressive groups including 350.org, Greenpeace, Sunrise movement, Credo Action, and Friends of the Earth plan to ramp up campaigns in the coming weeks and months calling on the Democratic National Committee, as well as the major networks and individual 2020 candidates, to dedicate one of the dozen official debates to a subject that has never gotten its due in primetime.

“We’re seeing a shift in people’s consciousness,” Janet Redman, Greenpeace USA’s climate program manager, told Mother Jones. “We need to see that starting to be reflected in our politics—that it’s not an isolated set of incidents or phenomenon. The public is craving politicians to have a conversation on this. They want to know real solutions.”

It’s not the first cycle activists have tried to persuade the DNC to give climate change some attention in the debates. The DNC itself doesn’t control the questions that are asked—that’s up to the networks that wind up partnering with for the events—but there have been debates focused on broad themes like national security and the economy. But through a combination of bird-dogging, protests, online campaigning, and the increasing prevalence of climate in the national conversation—not to mention burgeoning scientific evidence of its severity and grave consequences—activists have become more ambitious, seeking to have a full 90 minutes focused on the finer points of climate action.

The hyperpartisan nature of the climate debate tends to obscure the fact that there is a huge spectrum of proposed solutions for addressing the problem. “It’s like saying we shouldn’t have a debate on health care because all Democratic candidates agree more people should have access to health care,” says Evan Weber, political director of Sunrise Movement. In the past, when candidates are asked about this at all, the questions tend to be about whether a candidate believes in climate change, thinks of it as a priority, or has any plan for action.

Even now, it’s easy to imagine how candidates will express their commitment to a Green New Deal and deflect specifics with some applause line about climate change as an existential threat, a national security threat, or an opportunity to show American leadership. Moderately talented politicians could avoid addressing the many challenges and paths forward on climate. For instance, beneath the generally universal enthusiasm for the Green New Deal vision, there are huge fractures about whether the traditional gold standard of a carbon tax championed by economists should be included, or how to handle nuclear power, or how to handle fracking and the continued leasing of lands for fossil fuels.

“My fear is there will be some softball climate questions that aren’t specific, aren’t digging deep, [and] therefore make it hard for us to make any candidate who is elected accountable,” Redman says. “What we’re trying to do by focusing on primaries is pulling the entire field of candidates to bolder positions.”

One of those bolder positions would be to force candidates to take a clear stand on where fossil fuel leasing and production fits into their climate plans. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have taken definitive positions saying they would reject new leasing on public lands, but Beto O’Rourke, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris have not shared their opinion on the future of natural gas despite voicing their support for the Green New Deal. Another question would be how climate fits into the candidates’ priorities. Should Washington Governor Jay Inslee make the stage, he is likely to ask other candidates to demonstrate that this is a priority by promising specific action during their first 100 days in office.

Climate has always faced an unnaturally high bar to make it to the debate stage, considered in the past as a niche issue rather than a central concern, despite tens of thousands of Americans losing their homes to fires, mudslides, and floods. That was clear in 2012 when Mitt Romney and Barack Obama appeared at the CNN debate and its moderator replaced a question “for all you climate change people” with one about the national debt. There were no direct questions on solving the climate crisis that cycle, nor were there any questions in the general election debates in 2016 (the Democratic primary featured a little more debate centered around fracking).

But this year is likely to be different. After another year of record wildfires and extreme weather, capped off by alarming headlines from the normally staid Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Democratic primary voters have never been more concerned about climate. According to a Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom poll in March, 80 percent of those polled said candidates should spend “a lot” of time talking about climate change, placing this issue only second to concerns about health care. And the vision for the Green New Deal, when stripped of partisan context, has polled at astoundingly high rates across partisan lines.

Thus far, the DNC has no plans for any issue-specific debates, other than providing a “platform for candidates to have a vigorous discussion on ideas and solutions on the issues that voters care about, including the economy, climate change, and health care,” DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa emailed Mother Jones. Unlike Republicans stuck in climate denial, “Democrats are eager to put forward their solutions to combat climate change, and we will absolutely have these discussions during the 2020 primary process.”

Greenpeace’s Redman counters that promise “absolutely falls short.”

“I think it’s night and day,” says Brandy Doyle, climate campaign manager for the progressive advocacy organization Credo Action. Grassroots activists and climate campaigners “worked really hard to inject the idea of climate change in the conversation in 2016, to even push for a question on climate change in the debates.”

For activists, the key to forcing these debates is to be able to hold the nominee accountable if he or she wins, which becomes impossible within a general election that will be entirely about drawing a contrast to Trump. “If you can’t articulate the urgency of the climate crisis and your vision for addressing it,” Doyle says, “you’re not qualified for president.”

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Climate activists have their next target: The DNC debates

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Bernie Sanders is the reason why a pro-coal senator is about to take over a powerful energy post

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This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In a strange twist of fate, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who once fired a shotgun at a climate bill, is expecting to be promoted to a leadership position in a key Senate committee that conducts environmental oversight.

Progressive environmental groups have pressured Minority Leader Charles Schumer (a Democrat from New York) to pick someone, anyone, else to be ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Schumer isn’t the real reason Manchin is next-in-line, though. If filling the position had proceeded through the normal line of succession, it would go to the most senior senator on the committee, and four other senators outrank him. But in the fray of the post-midterms jostling for committee assignments, none of them want the position.

Washington state’s Maria Cantwell, the current top Democrat, has indicated she wants to replace departing Senator Bill Nelson (a Democrat from Florida) as ranking member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation panel. Senators Ron Wyden (a Democrat from Oregon) and Debbie Stabenow (from Michigan) want to keep their ranking slots on the Finance and Agriculture committees respectively.

And then there’s Bernie Sanders, who just organized a climate change town hall at the start of a likely presidential bid. He could be ranking member on a committee that oversees the Energy and Interior departments and debates issues related to public lands, energy infrastructure, and the nation’s electrical grid, but he refuses to move from his post on the powerful Budget Committee, where he can stay focused on economic priorities.

“I am proud of the work I have done on the Budget Committee over the last 12 years,” Sanders said in an emailed statement to Mother Jones. “As Ranking Member I have helped fight for budget and national priorities, which represent the needs of working families and not just the 1 percent. I look forward to continuing the fight in the new session for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.”

Thus far, Sanders hasn’t faced much public pressure to prevent Manchin from getting the post, potentially because the most outspoken groups protesting Manchin have had long standing ties with Sanders going back to his 2016 presidential campaign. Bill McKibben, co-founder of environmental group 350.org, has campaigned for Sanders and spoke at his town hall Monday night. Instead, these groups have done an end run to Schumer and pressured him directly to block Manchin’s promotion.

On Monday, members of the Sunrise Movement, a left-leaning environmental advocacy group, protested outside Schumer’s New York office, calling on him to reject “those who are in the pockets of the fossil fuel CEOs” from overseeing environmental policy. “We’re asking people to do something that’s admittedly difficult but we really want Schumer to step up and do the right thing for his party and these issues,” 350.org policy director Julian Noisecat said.

Democratic donor Tom Steyer and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, both 2020 presidential hopefuls, have also spoken out against Manchin. Inslee, whose campaign would center in part around climate change, is organizing a petition that lays out the argument: “Look, Joe Manchin has been a champion for affordable health care for every American. He’s been a leader on issues you and I care deeply about. But on climate, he’s simply wrong.”

As a leader on Energy and Natural Resources, Manchin would work with Chair Lisa Murkowksi (a Republican from Alaska) who has not been shy about noticing the impacts of climate change in her home state. Even if global warming itself has not been a primary focus of the committee’s interests of late, that could change next year, when Murkowski has said she expects the committee to lead “a rational conversation” on the topic.

Since 2012, the committee has not held a single hearing fully devoted to climate change, in contrast to 2009 when it held nine in that year alone. Most major climate bills, including cap-and-trade legislation, have gone through either the Finance committee or Environment and Public Works, which considers nominees to the Environmental Protection Agency and convenes hearings on topics like air pollution and toxic waste.

Nonetheless, the Trump administration’s most controversial initiatives, like a draft proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants, did not come directly before the Energy panel. But it still dominated the committee’s debate over whether to advance the nomination of Bernard McNamee, an ex-DOE staffer who helped develop the idea, to a position on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Manchin, who has voted in line with Trump’s policies 60.8 percent of the time, originally voted for McNamee’s nomination to advance out of committee, but then switched course and opposed him on the Senate floor. The controversial nominee was ultimately confirmed by one vote.

Coming from West Virginia, Manchin’s close ties to the coal industry are a given. Since his arrival in the Senate eight years ago, Manchin has taken nearly $750,000 in donations from the mining industry and more than $419,000 from oil and gas firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. His voting scorecard from the League of Conservation Voters, which assigns a rating based on a lawmaker’s voters for or against environmental legislation, is lower than all other Democratic senators but higher than all but one Republican.

Manchin’s office declined to comment to Mother Jones, and when confronted by reporters at the Capitol this week, he avoided any mention of the controversy. “Come in and talk to me, the door’s open,” he said. “I want to do whatever I can to help my country and my state.”

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Progressive freshman lawmakers like incoming New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have expressed concern with West Virginia’s senior senator being granted a leadership role on environmental issues, but some of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate have closed ranks around the nominee, downplaying Manchin’s record and the damage he could do to climate priorities. “I think Joe gets and understands we need to move forward on a diverse set of energy needs,” Cantwell told Bloomberg‘s Ari Natter.

“On climate, we’re going to make decisions collectively as a caucus. Nobody in our caucus has a veto over climate policy — whether they’re a ranking member on a committee or not,” Senator Chris Murphy (a Democrat from Connecticut) told Politico.

But activists argue there’s a lot at stake, especially if Democrats were thinking beyond the immediate legislative session.

“It would be an even bigger concern looking ahead if we do take back the senate in 2020 or in the future,” Noisecat says. “I don’t think that anyone who’s looking at the current makeup of Congress right now believes we can get ambitious climate legislation through both chambers of Congress. [But] Manchin is a huge problem if you want to do that in the long term.”

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Bernie Sanders is the reason why a pro-coal senator is about to take over a powerful energy post

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Landmark children’s climate lawsuit hits new roadblock

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This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

A high-profile lawsuit aiming to hold the federal government accountable for not curbing climate change has encountered yet another roadblock. After the Supreme Court permitted the case to proceed last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals delayed the case again on Thursday.

The case, Juliana v. United States, has its roots in a lawsuit filed against the Obama administration in August 2015 by 21 plaintiffs—all between the ages of 11 and 21. The teenage activists claimed that the federal government had violated their constitutional rights by not curbing climate change and asked the court to “develop a national plan to restore Earth’s energy balance, and implement that national plan so as to stabilize the climate system.”

The trial had been scheduled to begin in federal district court in Eugene, Oregon, on October 29, but several interventions by higher courts kept the case in limbo.

“What these young plaintiffs are being put through just to have their day in court is disgraceful,” Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement to Mother Jones. “This trial would finally hold the Trump administration accountable for its climate denial and destructive agenda. The court shouldn’t let the Trump administration use absurd legal claims to weasel out of it.”

After the Trump administration inherited the defense of the case, the government’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to dismiss it in July, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction and calling the plaintiffs’ request to have the executive branch phase out carbon dioxide emissions “groundless and improper.” The court rejected the administration’s “premature” motion, even as the justices acknowledged that the “breadth” of the plaintiffs’ claims was “striking.” Ten days before the trial was set to begin, Chief Justice John Roberts put the case on hold pending the plaintiffs’ response to the government’s request to significantly narrow the case. While the full court reviewed the new filing, the plaintiffs rallied in the rain with hundreds of students outside the federal courthouse in Eugene, Reuters reported.

“The Brown v. Board of Education case was all about school districts inflicting harm on children because of the ‘separate but equal’ policies. Our case is about the federal government knowingly inflicting harm on children through fossil fuel emissions,” plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel Phil Gregory told Mother Jones last month. “If you substitute a word like ‘segregation’ for ‘climate change,’ there’s no way the Supreme Court would stop this case.”

Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization aligned with the plaintiffs, made a similar argument in a press release. “This is not an environmental case, it’s a civil rights case,” the group stated.

On November 2, the Supreme Court vacated Roberts’ previous decision and allowed the case to proceed over the objections of Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. But the government requested another delay, this time petitioning the district court directly. In a motion on November 5, the administration argued that it would be impossible to “develop and implement a comprehensive, government-wide energy policy” without breaking the constitutional imperative to vest legislative power in Congress and executive power in the White House. Three days later, the Ninth Circuit halted the case for another 15 days.

Once the Ninth Circuit makes a decision, district court Judge Ann Aiken said she will set a new date for the trial to begin.

“The Court told us to continue getting our work done for trial so that we are all ready when the Ninth Circuit rules. That’s exactly what we will do,” said Julia Olson, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust, in a statement. “Our briefs to the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit … will show that there is no basis to grant the Government’s request of an appeal before final judgment.”

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Landmark children’s climate lawsuit hits new roadblock

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Scott Pruitt can’t escape his investigations just because he resigned

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Scott Pruitt may be out at the EPA, but he left in the midst of more than a dozen federal investigations into his conduct. The bulk of these investigations are audits that the EPA’s Office of Inspector General agreed to take on. A week after Pruitt’s resignation, the OIG confirmed that these investigations won’t be ending just because Pruitt is no longer in office.

The independent EPA office will continue work on at least five audits, “all of which focus on programmatic, systemic, and/or operational agency issues,” Kentia Elbaum, a spokesperson for the OIG office, wrote in an email to reporters. Some of these audits were already examining issues that predated Pruitt’s arrival, but they have all expanded in scope to include revelations about how Pruitt deployed EPA resources. That includes whether the EPA adhered to its policies on Pruitt’s first-class flights and travel through December 2017; Pruitt’s approval of raises for two employees using the Safe Drinking Water Act; and reports of his staff deleting records that should be preserved under the Freedom of Information Act. And the two others pertain to his 24/7 protective security detail.

Three of these audits could be completed as soon as August, according to Elbaum.

Now, audits are not the same as criminal investigations. Once the office issues its findings, Pruitt would only face public embarrassment since he’s no longer employed by the agency and can’t be directly reprimanded. But a number of Pruitt’s critics have said that he is worthy of a criminal probe, given the reports that he used his public office to find a job for his wife. OIG would not comment on whether Pruitt faces a criminal investigation. “While the EPA OIG announces nearly all of our audit work, we cannot confirm or deny the existence of criminal investigations, which look for violations of law,” Elbaum said. “We can say that any criminal investigations that may have existed at the time of Mr. Pruitt’s resignation will continue.”

In May, Pruitt confirmed that he established a legal defense fund to help him through his investigations. As head of the EPA, he would have had to walk a fine line to not run afoul of ethics law in collecting his donations. Now, he’s free from those restraints.

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Scott Pruitt can’t escape his investigations just because he resigned

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Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, French President Emmanuel Macron made headlines for poking fun at his American counterpart’s well-documented history of climate change denial.

Now, remarks from President Donald Trump on the issue, which were also recorded in Davos but aired in Britain Sunday evening, are providing additional context to Macron’s spot-on mockery.

“There is a cooling and there’s a heating,” Trump told Piers Morgan in an interview with Britain’s ITV. “I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”

He then addressed the subject of polar ice cap melting. “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records,” Trump said. “They’re at a record level.”

In reality, human-made global warming has far outpaced any short-term cooling. Nevertheless, climate change skeptics regularly cherry-pick such data points that fail to account for long-term trends, which consistently show that the planet’s temperature is rising.

Like Trump’s past musings on global warming, his latest observations fly in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. They also recall a May Politico report in which Trump fell for a hoax Time magazine cover that supposedly warned about a coming ice age. K.T. McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, reportedly snuck the fake cover onto Trump’s desk with the intention of irritating Trump on the topic of climate change.

A White House official defended McFarland, saying that the cover was “fake but accurate.” Whatever that means.


Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

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2017 is officially one of the hottest years on record, surprising no one

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

It’s official: 2017 was one of the hottest years ever recorded on Earth. On Thursday, NASA reported that only 2016 was warmer.

Every year, NASA collects data on the planet’s temperature record and releases a report that explains climate trends. On average, the planet’s surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit during the last 100 years, a change that can be blamed on the increasing amount of human-made emissions, such as carbon dioxide. “[T]emperatures over the planet as a whole continue the rapid warming trend we’ve seen over the last 40 years,” Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies that conducted the study, said in a press release.

Notably absent in 2017’s climbing temperatures was the presence of El Niño, a weather pattern that warms up the Pacific Ocean and contributed to 2016’s record-setting heat. Still, in 2017, the U.S. spent a record $306 billion on climate-fueled catastrophes, including 16 billion-dollar disasters such as the California wildfires and Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also follows the Earth’s temperatures but uses a different method from NASA, concluded that 2017 was the third warmest year — after 2016 and 2015.

This new data means that 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2001. “What we’re seeing is an increasing string of years of temperatures more than 1 degree above the pre-industrial era,” Schmidt told the New York Times, “and we’re not going to go back.”

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2017 is officially one of the hottest years on record, surprising no one

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Scott Pruitt took a $14,000 flight to Oklahoma to talk about closing EPA offices

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned on Friday, following revelations that he had taken at least two dozen private and military flights at taxpayer expense since May. But who hasn’t been taking private flights among the members of President Trump’s Cabinet? We now know that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have all flown on noncommercial or government planes rather than commercial ones, collectively racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs to taxpayers. Zinke went so far as to fly on a plane owned by oil and gas executives after giving a motivational speech to Las Vegas’ new National Hockey League team.

For Pruitt, the news comes as he’s found himself battling several other mini-scandals from his short tenure. He’s faced congressional inquiries for having an 18-person, 24-hour security detail, building a nearly $25,000 secure phone booth for himself, and taking frequent trips to his home state of Oklahoma. But the most jarring aspect of his plane controversy is how it looks against the Trump administration’s proposal to cut one-third of the EPA budget.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Pruitt has taken at least four trips on chartered and government flights since his confirmation, at a cost of $58,000, according to documents provided to a congressional oversight committee. The EPA has defended Pruitt’s travel by saying the four noncommercial flights were for necessary trips to meet stakeholders around the country and that there were special circumstances that prevented commercial flying.

But what exactly was Pruitt up to on these trips? On one of them, his only public meeting in Oklahoma, he and six staffers took an Interior Department plane from Tulsa to Guymon, a town in Oklahoma’s panhandle, at a cost of $14,400. The trip’s stated purpose was to meet with landowners “whose farms have been affected” by a federal rule making more bodies of water subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. Pruitt has argued for overturning the rule since before his arrival at the EPA, and he has begun the process of reversing it.

One of the things Pruitt reportedly talked about in his meetings with farmers in late July was closing the EPA’s 10 regional offices and reassigning staff to work in state capitals. According to an affiliate of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau that helped organize the event and was tweeting about his remarks that day, Pruitt floated the idea to an audience of farmers assembled in Guymon.

A screenshot of the tweet provided to Mother Jones. The original tweet appears to have been deleted.

The farm policy publication Agri-Pulse took note of the tweet and requested comment from the EPA at the time. Agency spokesperson Liz Bowman told the publication that Pruitt “believes it is his responsibility to find the best and most efficient way to perform environmental protection” but repeated that there weren’t plans to close any regional offices “in the foreseeable future.”

Politico reported earlier this year that the White House was looking at shutting down two of the EPA’s 10 regional offices in its budget request. A Chicago Sun Times columnist reported that the Chicago EPA office, where 1,000 people work, could be on the chopping block. Though the agency quickly denied the rumors, there were protests not just from EPA staff, but from Democratic and Republican politicians representing areas that would be affected. By June, the idea appeared to be off the table. That month, Pruitt told members of the House Appropriations Committee that he did not intend to close regional offices. He dismissed the reports that he was considering closing the Chicago office as “pure legend,” saying, “It is not something that is under discussion presently.”

The EPA employs roughly 15,000 people, many of whom work across the country in regional offices, carrying out day-to-day environmental oversight and delivering grants to fund state environmental programs. In early May, Democratic senators who sit on the oversight committee for the EPA wrote to Pruitt, “Whether reviewing discharge permits for compliance with Federal pollution standards and state water quality standards, or inspecting facilities to see if they are operating in compliance with their permits, we count on regional staff to provide guidance to state pollution control staff, the public and regulated entities.” Regional staff, for instance, have played a key role in the response to recent hurricanes, analyzing soil and water samples for contamination. It’s unlikely that Pruitt would seek simply to move the EPA’s regional office staffers to state offices. He has already sought to cut more than 1,000 positions from the agency through buyouts, and the closure of regional offices could be an additional pretense to eliminate jobs.

On Thursday, the EPA declined to give Mother Jones more context on Pruitt’s remarks about regional offices that day or why he would be floating the idea well after denying it was under consideration. Instead, EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox offered this statement: “Anyone that takes time to read President Trump’s budget will realize that no money is allocated to close down regional EPA offices.”

The president of the EPA employees union, John O’Grady, commented that closing regional offices and moving the regulators into state capital buildings would be “a whole ball of wax” that the administration hasn’t thought through.

“If they do that, I’m going to come out and say quite frankly we’re thrilled that the administration has decided to put U.S. EPA employees at the state office,” he said. “Now we can tell for sure that the states are following federal laws correctly.” He added, “They’re trying to dilute the EPA as a cohesive unit. They’re trying to get rid of us.”

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Scott Pruitt took a $14,000 flight to Oklahoma to talk about closing EPA offices

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Friday Cat Blogging – 19 May 2017

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First things first: the answer to the origin of yesterday’s lunchtime photo. It’s a picture of the neon-lit Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier. It’s a 1-second exposure at night, one of several I took where I deliberately moved the camera while the shutter was open. Then I ran it through the dry brush filter in Photoshop.

And now for catblogging. Here is Hopper trying to leap from one branch to another on one of our trees. It looks touch-and-go, but it actually wasn’t. She immediately chinned herself onto the target branch, but the camera just happened to catch her mid-swing. I assure you that no cats were harmed in the making of this photo.

However, you’re all lucky I didn’t make this into some variation on “donate to Mother Jones or the cat gets it.” That would have been totally tasteless, and I’d never do that. But I could do it if I were that kind of person—and maybe I will if we don’t make the $500,000 goal for our muckraking fund to investigate the Trump-Russia connection. We’re getting close, but we’re not quite there. So donate! Read more about it here. Or go straight to the donation page here.

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Friday Cat Blogging – 19 May 2017

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Tens of Thousands of People All Over the World Are Marching for Science

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Amid the Trump administration’s plan to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, cut billions in scientific research, and eliminate science advisers’ role in the government, thousands of people around the world participated in marches for science Saturday to defend the role of science and evidence-based policies.

The marches, which coincided with the annual Earth Day celebration, have sparked debate within the scientific community over whether scientists should be actively engaged in political actions. Organizers for the marches say the event is nonpartisan—there is no mention of Trump on its website—but assert silence is no longer an option amid the threats posed by Trump and many of his advisers.

Mother Jones has three reporters on the scene, Pema Levy in DC, Jaelynn Grisso in New York, and Karen Hao in Los Angeles. For up-to-the-minute news on the marches, be sure to follow them, along with our rolling collection of updates below:

4:45 pm ET A few more scenes from the march in Los Angeles before we sign off:

4:35 pm ET We’ll leave you with some final thoughts from—who else?—Bill Nye the Science Guy:

4:32 pm ET Humans weren’t the only animals marching for science today, as the dogged reporters at Buzzfeed revealed:

4:05 pm ET Here’s what scientists and their supporters had to say about the March of Science in New York, via Mother Jones digital fellow Jaelynn Grisso:

3:07 pm ET Trump weighs in on Earth Day for the second time today:

2:30 pm ET Mother Jones fellow Karen Hao is on the ground in Los Angeles:

2:03 pm ET The crowds in Chicago, where more than 40,000 demonstrators are expected:

1:30 pm ET Trump releases the following statement honoring Earth Day. While there was no direct mention of March for Science, the statement claimed “rigorous science” is essential to the president’s agenda.

1:21 pm ET The scene from San Francisco, via Mother Jones publisher Steve Katz:

1:05 pm ET While climate is the overwhelming topic of the day, many participants are also hoping to highlight other scientific issues at stake in the Trump era, including federal funding for medical research and the Flint water crisis:

12:48 pm ET Mother Jones reporter Pema Levy talks to scientists at the DC march:

Mike Khan is a microbiologist at Washington State University. He said scientists are looking at issues like global warming and realizing they need to speak out publicly about the problem. “Science says we are going in some awfully bad places, and a lot of politicians are not willing to accept that,” he said. “I’m out here in the rain because I think that’s a problem.”

Dr. Laura Anderko studies the effects of mold, pesticides, lead, climate change, and other environmental hazards on children’s health, but says her funding is threatened. “Everything that we’ve done to save humanity goes back to science: clean water, clean air, all of that,” she said.

12:08 pm ET Despite the rain, many are still lining up in DC. The official march doesn’t kick off for another two hours:

12:00 pm ET More scenes from DC:

11:37 am ET Scenes from New York:

11:12 am ET While we wait for the march in New York to get started, here’s some suggested reading to supplement your March for Science activities:

10:47 am ET More scenes from DC, via Mother Jones senior news editor Jeremy Schulman:

10:20 am ET Marches from outside the US:

9:37 am ET Crowds are beginning to gather in DC and other cities on the East Coast:

9:25 am ET Happy Earth Day! Here are some greetings from underwater to kick off today’s events:


Tens of Thousands of People All Over the World Are Marching for Science

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Enormous Crowds Expected at Women’s Marches Around the World

Mother Jones

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On Saturday, January 21, more than 200,000 women are expected to march in Washington, DC, to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump. The organizers predict that they’ll be joined by more than 2 million women in more than 600 marches worldwide. Want to find a march near you? Use this tool.

Mother Jones reporters will be on the scene at the marches. Check back here Saturday for the latest.


Enormous Crowds Expected at Women’s Marches Around the World

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