Weekend Reader:  Handing out medals in the Battle of Pruitt

Whistleblowers, investigative reporters, and NGO's in line for commendations

To start, the photo is from Energy Department HQ, with DOE Secretary Rick Perry and, closest to him, coal baron Bob Murray. I don't know the next person to the right, but in this 2017 photo, Mr. Murray had come a-lobbyin' with veteran DC insider and mouthpiece Andrew Wheeler (beneath the red arrow). More on the photo later.


Scott Pruitt's 17-month EPA Scandal-Palooza is over, but here are a few who helped expose his tawdry reign:

-- Strong investigative journalism from the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN, among others; the Times just won Columbia's Oakes Award for Environmental Journalism for its EPA work.

-- Internal whistleblowers, most notably former Deputy Chief of Staff Kevin Chmielewski, a self-described Trump supporter;

-- Dogged pursuit of internal agency documents by NGO's, notably the Sierra Club;

Back to the photo: Simon Edelman was a photographer for the Department of Energy. He took the picture in question, and released it to the public.

Murray has earned a rep as the most unhinged of the coal barons. He and Wheeler hatched a plan to rescue the foundering domestic coal industry via a DOE mandate for major utilities to invest in coal. On June 1, 2017, President Trump, citing vague and unspecified national security concerns, put Murray's and Wheeler's scheme in play, ordering DOE to bail out not just economically failing coal plants, but failing nuclear plants as well.failing coal plants, but failing nuclear plants as well.

Perry's DOE fired Edelman for releasing the photo, not only making him a martyr in the Battle of Pruitt, but perhaps the first martyr in the Battle of Wheeler. Now Mr. Wheeler has replaced Scott Pruitt as EPA chief on an interim, but possibly a permanent, basis. As befits America's Grand Experiment with a two-tens-for-a-five form of government, many are expressing hope that he'll be a cut above Pruitt's venality. Even Sheldon Whitehouse, the Senate's conscience on climate action, wished in a prepared statement that Wheeler could bring "clear-eyed leadership" to the wounded agency.

Thank you for your service, one and all.

And one last citation for fragging your own side: David Schnare is a former EPA employee turned activist climate denier. He's made a name for himself of late by sandbagging climate scientists with onerous Freedom of Information Act requests. But now one of his colleagues and ideological soulmates, Chris Horner has accused him of financial mismanagement of their nonprofit, the Freemarket Environmental Law Clinic.

With Schnare as a close second, Horner has emerged as the virtuoso among climate science harassers-- beginning with his years-long torment of Michael Mann during Mann's tenure at the University of Virginia. Horner had petitioned Mann's emails, internal correspondence, text messages and more in an effort to find discrediting correspondence.

Now, he's applying his finely-honed grief-making skills against an ally.

Fetch me the popcorn, and may the best man win!!

Top Weekend News

In The Guardian, John Abraham examines the staggering future costs of sea level rise and coastal inundation.

Eric Holthaus on how this year's severe storms season could set records. (Grist)

In an introductory speech to EPA employees, acting EPA boss Andrew Wheeler said risk communication would be a high priority. (E&E Daily)

What to expect on environmental cases from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Steve Curwood's Q&A with U. of Vermont Law Professor Patrick Parenteau. (PRI's Living On Earth)

More on Kavanaugh from Marianne Lavelle at Inside Climate News.

If coral reefs disappear, some tropical fish will lose their only protection. (Hakai)

Rancher Dwight Hammond, Jr.'s imprisonment inspired the armed takeover of a National Wildlife Refuge. Sprung from prison by President Trump's pardon he discussed how prison has changed his outlook. And how it hasn't. (Oregonian)

Opinion pieces and editorials

Eric Holthaus throws some anti-shade on Trump and environment: He'll be terrible, but he's not everything.

Podcasts of note

Quick Instagram post from Planet Forward, George Washington University's J-School, on "The Last Straw" -- plastic drinking straw bans popping up everywhere.

More Trump Rollbacks

ExxonMobil becomes the latest corporation to exit the anti-regulatory American Legislative Exchange Council. (Reuters)

Alex Kaufman reports on Andrew Wheeler's first week as interim EPA boss-- and his first two potential scandals. (HuffPost)

Beyond the “silver lining” of emissions reductions: Clean energy takes a COVID-19 hit

With job loss and stifled development in the renewable energy sector, economists, politicians, and advocates say policy action is necessary to stay on track.

In early March, the Washington state legislature passed a community solar incentives bill meant to help meet renewable energy goals and increase low-income communities' access to solar technology.

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