Weekend Reader:  Handing out medals in the Battle of Pruitt

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)

Former coal plant near Pittsburgh is poisoning groundwater: Report

Groundwater near the site contains arsenic levels 372 times higher than safety threshold. Coal ash sites across the U.S. are seeing similar contamination.

PITTSBURGH—The site of a former coal-fired power plant northwest of Pittsburgh is leaking coal ash and poisoning surrounding groundwater, according to a new report.

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Peter Dykstra: Environmental takeaways from Election Day

The midterms came and went. And because we have to, you know, count all of the ballots, some things are still unresolved. However, here are some quick environmental takeaways.

There were only two major state initiatives on energy and the environment this year.

First, a $4.2 billion measure in New York state split up this way:

  • $500 million to electrify school buses;
  • $400 million for green building projects;
  • $1.1 billionto restoration and flood risk reduction and rehabilitation and shoreline restoration projects;
  • $650 million toward open space land conservation and recreation;
  • $650 million for water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure.

New York state voters approved this measure on Tuesday.

California voters rejected Proposition 30, which would have fundedinfrastructure for zero-emissions vehicles and a Wildfire Prevention Initiative by imposing additional income taxes on top-earning Californians.

Green governors 

new york governor hochul

Kathy Hochul (center), governor of New York.

Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority/flickr

Re-elected governors who have vowed aggressive action on climate change include:

  • Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.)
  • Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.)
  • Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.)
  • Janet Mills (D-Maine)
  • Michelle Lujan Gresham (D-N.M.)

And then there are the newcomers: Wes Moore (D-Md.) and Maura Healey (D-Mass.)

Climate ignored in key races

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the Warnock-Walker clash (headed for a runoff scheduled for Dec. 6) had cost the two campaigns and their worldwide financial backers a quarter billion in campaigns rooted in negative advertising. But not a word about America’s climate future — not even a hopeful one — entered the media strategy of either man.

Nor did climate draw much water in Florida, where the homes of roughly 10 million residents are in communities projected to be underwater later this century. Republican Ron DeSantis, just re-elected as governor, and re-upped Republican Senator Marco Rubio both had principal residences in doomed Dade County, just down the freeway from equally doomed Mar-A-Lago.

Uber-denier Inhofe retires

senator inhofe climate change

Oklahoma Repulican Senator Jim Inhofe, a long-time climate change denier, retired.

Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Few would dispute retiring Republican Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe his unofficial title as Capitol Hill’s Alpha Dog of climate denial. But I’m holding him to his promise of an interview on Nov. 18, 2034, his 100th birthday. We’ll check in with Inhofe to see how his climate “hoax” is working out. Inhofe turns 88 next week and has been a senator for 28 years.

Democrat Pat Leahy also retires in January when the current Senate session ends. He’s been a pro-environment stalwart on acid rain and other issues for 48 years.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher Environmental Health Sciences.

California Climate Measure Fails After ‘Green’ Governor Opposed It in a Campaign Supporters Called ‘Misleading’ - Inside Climate News
insideclimatenews.org

California Climate Measure Fails After ‘Green’ Governor Opposed It in a Campaign Supporters Called ‘Misleading’ - Inside Climate News

The only statewide climate measure on California’s ballot Tuesday failed, even though it would have raised billions to help meet the state’s ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets by subsidizing electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, among other things. Its downfall resulted largely from the high-profile opposition of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has arguably worked harder […]
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