🏭 Trump's rollbacks on clean air, climate action keep coming 🏭
|Emily J Gertz||May 11, 2018|
Apologies for being one day late with this week's (de)regulation nation. But the delay (brought on by three back-to-back days of public presentations in the Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism Fellowship) has allowed me to get compelling items into this week's issue, one bad and one great.
Thanks much 🙏 to those who have shared their coping methods for our bad news era. I'd love to get a few more of your tips and shared wisdom before running the responses. Please email email@example.com with whatever keeps you reasonably calm these days, and let me know if it's okay to use your name.
bad: Nation's top clean air regulator wants weaker pollution rules
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that he wants to fundamentally alter how his agency sets national standards for air quality.
For decades the sole standard for setting limits on six especially noxious air pollutants has been: Based on the best available science, does the standard protect even the most vulnerable people?
Pruitt wants to put more emphasis on how much it will cost to implement pollution controls, as well as how they affect the energy industry.
It's his latest in a number of efforts to separate science from the EPA's regulatory process.
"This has been the dream of the polluter since the '90s," an American Lung Association official told a reporter, "and it's the nightmare particularly of parents of kids who have asthma or other chronic lung disease."
also bad: Trump ices vital NASA climate pollution monitoring project
NASA's Carbon Monitoring System is an important component in global efforts to measure changes in climate-warming greenhouse gas pollution.
Congress did not fund CMS in the final spending bill it passed in March.
That was fine with Trump administration, which—as part of its broad attack on federal climate science and related programs—has repeatedly targeted CMS for elimination in its budget requests.
Now NASA says that once remaining grantees complete their work, the 8-year-old, $10-million-a-year project will fully shut down.
With its demise, "leadership will pass to Europe" on monitoring carbon pollution, says one Harvard atmospheric chemist.
Without CMS, the U.S. may be left behind as other countries develop the technologies needed worldwide to create a low-carbon global economy.
CMS is fading out just a few weeks after the Senate, on a party-line vote, confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to lead NASA. Bridenstine has a record of denying that human activities have caused climate change.
better: Reporters discover how hard Trump's EPA chief is working...to avoid their questions
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt does not give the press advance notice of his travel schedule.
All past chiefs of the EPA have given press advance notice of their official travel plans. Even other members of Trump's cabinet do so.
Emails between Pruitt's staff, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show that they work hard in advance of meetings and other events to guarantee that the only questions asked of their boss are pre-scripted items, provided to attendees "industry-friendly and supportive of Mr. Pruitt and his efforts."
"He sees himself as both a proponent of, you know, oil and gas and coal and homebuilding and agricultural uses, and as someone that is regulating them," Times reporter told NPR's Terri Gross. "Traditionally, the EPA is simply the regulator, not the promoter. But he sees himself as both the promoter and the regulator."
good: Congress tells Pentagon to stop burning toxic munitions outdoors
For about a century, the Department of Defense has disposed of old munitions by burning them outdoors, releasing millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air.
Congress wants the military to develop a plan for ending the polluting practice.
To underscore that it takes this seriously, Congress has written the mandate into the $717 billion defense spending bill for 2019.
Medical experts believe thousands of U.S. soldiers have been sickened by open-pit burns at overseas bases.
Read more: ProPublica
great: Solar energy required on new homes in California
All new single-family homes built in California after 2019 will have solar panels.
The rule, which the California Energy Commission passed this week, also applies to multi-family homes of three stories or fewer.
The commission also set stricter standards for indoor air filtration and insulation.
The home-building industry supports the mandate.
The solar provision will raise the cost of a single-family home around $9,500, or $40 per monthly mortgage payment, according to a commission analysis.
But it will shear around $80 a month from homeowners' utility bills, adding up to around $19,000 over the lifespan of a 30-year mortgage.
Read more: Los Angeles Times