Weekend Reader, Sunday Feb. 25

Weekend Reader, Sunday Feb. 25

What's this? The leading Congressional Benghazi warrior sets his sights on Scott Pruitt?

Funny things happen to some Congressmen when they consider life after Congress.


Trey Gowdy, the angular South Carolinian who rose to fame with his relentless pursuit of the Benghazi investigation, announced he won't run again in 2018. Gowdy came to Congress in the 2010 election by swamping incumbent Bob Inglis in the primary.

In a year when "primaried" became a verb, a moderate like Inglis—who even spoke up about climate change—had no chance.

A former prosecutor who won the nickname "Bulldog," Gowdy took the lead in pressing the Benghazi investigation—credited (or blamed) with helping defeat Hillary Clinton. His strong conservative credentials seemed perfect for Trumpism.

But last week by Trumpian standards, Congressman Gowdy Benghazi'd up the wrong tree. As chair of the House Oversight Committee, he sent a letter Tuesday to EPA, demanding details on Administrator Scott Pruitt's extensive first class travel, and on the size of his entourage.

Pruitt is said to have pulled field investigators off of protecting the environment and into a head-of-state sized personal security detail. Democrats on a second panel, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, have made a similar request.

Then there's the Cone of Silence. Pruitt reportedly spent $25,000 to install a private phone booth for conversations.

This week, another facet of Pruitt's leadership turned up. In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pruitt offered a spiritual angle to his drill-baby-drill policies:

"The biblical world view with respect to these issues is that we have a responsibility to manage and cultivate, harvest the natural resources that we've been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind."

Top Weekend News

Must-read: The New Orleans Times-Picayune and the New York Times are publishing a joint series on Louisiana's disappearing coast. The town of Jean Lafitte waits to be swamped by rising seas and sinking land; and invasive insects compound the unfolding disaster along the vanishing coast.

An EPA report says people of color suffer more from air pollution in 46 states than do white people.

The AP's Seth Borenstein looks at satellite monitoring of the high seas -- and fisheries' huge footprint on ocean ecosystems.

From The Onion: Climate scientists hang it up, advise us to just enjoy the next 20 years. (You know this is satire, right?)

Opinions and Editorials

Former Interior Dept. official David Hayes argues that expanding drilling on public lands is the opposite of "America First."

Pennsylvania's York Dispatch editorializes on Trump's environmental budget cuts, and their impact on Chesapeake Bay.

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman offers a harsh assessment of Scott Pruitt: First-class travel is the least of his problems.

On Living on Earth, Peter Dykstra and Helen Palmer discuss fatbergs -- the gross, sometimes-enormous globs of fat and grease that clog urban sewer systems.

This Week In Trump

After his forced resignation, Trump climate adviser George David Banks called the Paris Accord "a good Republican agreement."

Sometimes, ya just gotta state the obvious: Are Trump's attacks on science meant to sway public opinion? From The Hill.

A just-released EPA study, conducted in the pre-Trump era, found that people of color cope with air pollution more than white people in 46 states.

The Conservative Political Action Conference hosted a climate change panel discussion. They found good news: Increased CO2 will make blue crabs enormous!!

At EPA, enforcement fines in Trump's first year in office total less than half of any recent President.

A Little Bit of Hope from a Garden

Amidst the misery of Syria's three-way Civil War, a garden in a northern Iraq refugee camp provides a ray of hope—and fresh food. NPR's Julia Travers with a great story.

And Some News for EHN/Daily Climate

We welcome Kristina Marusic as our new reporter. Based in Pittsburgh, Kristina will cover environmental health and justice issues in the region.

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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