Welcome to (de)regulation nation, the newsletter tracking Trump administration environmental rollbacks, along with who’s fighting back and what’s going right.
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The Trump administration has drastically slowed the pace of new endangered wild plant and animal species listings, The Hill reports. Just 21 species have been granted federal protections, compared to 71 by the end of President Obama’s third year in office, 25 by George W. Bush, and 146 by George H.W. Bush.
Also at The Hill, news that Trump’s 2018 tariffs on solar panel imports (mostly from China) have cost the industry more than 62,000 jobs “and nearly $19 billion in new private sector investment … (T)he nearly 25 percent tariff applies to all imported solar photovoltaic cells and modules, the main technology on panels that convert solar energy into electricity."
In 2018 the White House took law enforcement rangers out of national parks, and sending them to patrol the US-Mexico line instead. This year is seeing more of the same, reports The Guardian, with Trump’s Interior Dept. redirecting rangers “from US national parks such as Zion, Yosemite and the National Mall … to Organ Pipe Cactus national monument on the Arizona and Mexico border as well as Big Bend national park on the border in south-west Texas.”
Federal environmental regulators will not ban the use of lethal gas bombs to kill coyotes and other wildlife that sometimes prey on livestock, reports the AP. It is tweaking the rules to require that trappers set the sodium cyanide bombs no closer than 600 feet from homes and public roads; and that they post a couple warning sites within 15 feet of the bombs’ location. (In a 2017 Idaho incident, a sodium cyanide bomb injured a 14-year-old out walking near his home, and killed his pet dog.) Activists had hoped for an end to this decades-long program, which in 2018 alone killed “6,579 animals … including more than 200 other nontargeted animals, including bears,” AP notes.”
EPA’s inspector general has castigated the agency for breaking federal law when it tried to rush out a rollback on regulations to slash tailpipe spew from super-polluting cargo (or “glider”) trucks. “Agency officials at the time of the effort, done under former EPA chief Scott Pruitt, told the watchdog office’s investigators of ‘fast and loose’ rulemaking,” reports the AP, possibly with the assistance of White House budget officials. EPA now says it will do the required study on public health and economic impacts of the rule change.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a delegation of over dozen Congressional Democrats to the annual international climate change conference in Madrid this week, reports E&E News. Why? To undercut the Trump administration’s moves to withdraw from the international Paris climate action accord. “Virtually the entire Democratic primary field has pledged to return to the agreement if elected,” notes E&E, “and House Democrats passed a bill, H.R. 9, earlier this year that would force the administration to rejoin Paris.”
“One of the goals we have is to make sure that all of those who are in the Paris accord know that the Democratic majority in the Congress of the American people are very concerned about the climate issue,” Speaker Pelosi told Bloomberg Environment, “understand that we have to set goals and have a plan on how to achieve them, and to talk about some of the things that we have done.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has put a hold on a Senate vote to confirm an offshore drilling advocate to the second-highest position in the Interior Department, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Rubio wants assurances that the nominee, Katharine MacGregor, will not green-light drilling off Florida’s Atlantic coast, and will push a drilling moratorium off Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast out to 2027. The Trump administration has attempted to roll back back an Obama-era ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, but so far a federal judge has blocked the move.
If you like giving gifts, but agonize (or even worry just a little) about the environmental toll of late-stage capitalism, then Grist has you covered with a fresh list of 79 suggestions “intended to make a more climate-conscious life easier and more enjoyable.” The ideas range from a gift card to Amtrak to enable travel-lovers to lower the carbon load of their adventures, to “a subscription to a print magazine that does great reporting on the climate, like High Country News, California Sunday, The New Yorker, or Mother Jones.” Endorsed!
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Emily J Gertz founded and writes this newsletter. I’m environmental journalist whose work has appeared in HuffPost, Audubon, The Guardian, SIERRA, Popular Science, and more. I’m also a contributing reporter to the Drilled podcast.
Find links to my reporting and books at www.emilygertz.com.
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This week’s quote is by Greta Thunberg, criticizing world leaders gathered in Madrid for the 25th annual international climate conference. (Yes, these meetings have been happening for a quarter-century.) "We have been striking for over a year, and basically nothing has happened," Thunberg told fellow youth activists, reports CNN. "The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power, and we cannot go on like this."