(de)regulation nation: 2018 midterm elections special

"I don’t think anyone’s anger is going away anytime soon. So use it. Vote every chance you get. Scream into a void if you must, but also do it on a ballot."

Welcome to (de)regulation nation, the newsletter tracking environmental news in the Trump era. Each issue features updates on Trump administration rollbacks of conservation, environmental, and public health protections, as well as news from across the political spectrum about what’s going right and who’s fighting back.

Send your feedback and story tips to emily@deregnation.com.

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Some eco-political philosophies argue that the motivations for over-exploiting the environment flow from the same sources causing human oppression, exploitation, and bigotry.

Whether you agree with that or not, it’s clear the current moment’s outpourings of bigotry, misogyny, and extreme environmental degradation are tangled together, because the same people at our government’s highest levels have endorsed all three: President Trump and the Republican lawmakers who support him. Their words, amplified by social and news media, propelled several terrible acts of murder and attempted murder in the past week.

Those events didn’t surprise me (because stochastic terrorism), but that hasn’t made them any less shocking, enraging, and frightening. I’ve done a lot of staring into space lately, my mind blank and my feelings numbed out.

I created this newsletter because under Trump, the federal government is rejecting the valid climate and environmental science; rushing to expand oil, gas, and coal energy instead of ramp them down; gutting the Endangered Species Act and protections for public wild lands; and weakening curbs on air and water pollution that have improved and protected public and ecological health (although unevenly) for decades.

These extreme policies are predictable outcomes of free market economic theories and political beliefs rooted in 20th century anti-communist fervor. So the eco-feminists and eco-socialists are on to something when they say it’s all connected.

When it comes to doing the day-to-day work, though, these two practical adages of the news trade help me take a deep breath, clear my head, and get back to it: “who benefits?” and “follow the money.”


bad: millions of Americans who care about the environment don’t vote

  • In poll after poll, Americans say they care deeply about climate change, air quality, safe drinking water, and wildlife protection.

  • But candidates for office often give environmental issues low priority because millions of these same people fail to vote, according to political consultant Nathaniel Stinnett.

  • Stinnett founded the Environmental Voter Project, which uses social messaging strategies to transform these green-minded folks into voters.

  • “We live in a world where it’s increasingly hard to get people to change their minds,” Stinnett told a reporter. “But if we’re talking about finding people who are already with us and slightly tweaking their actions, it’s a little bit easier.”

  • Read more in The Revelator

better: A governor’s record of environmental deregulation haunts his run for Senate

  • In Florida’s Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott (R) is steadily losing public support in his campaign to unseat incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D).

  • Some Republican voters say they’re flipping to Nelson because they blame Scott for the massive onslaught of deadly red algae along the state’s coastline.

  • The toxic algae bloom is killing scores of fish, dolphins, sharks, manatees, and sea turtles, increasing respiratory health problems for residents, and driving away tens of millions of dollars in tourism revenues.

  • The crisis has earned the two-term governor a new nickname: “Red Tide Rick.”

  • During his first term as gov, Scott quashed state-led efforts to curb inland freshwater pollution that contributes to coastal red tides. He also slashed the budget and staffing for enforcing environmental protections.

  • Read more in The Washington Post and Mother Jones

Related: Florida voters told NBC’s Meet the Press that solving the state’s water problems should be the top priority of their next senator and governor.

good: a carbon tax measure gains ground in Washington State

  • Washington State’s Initiative 1631 would put a $15-per-ton-and-rising fee on carbon dioxide pollution, starting in 2020.

  • This surcharge will incentivize a quick drop in human-caused emissions of climate-heating CO2, say its proponents.

  • Oil giants (led by BP America) are outspending supporters of the measure (which include Seattle-based tech firms like Amazon and Microsoft) roughly $2-to-$1 to defeat the measure.

  • Still, a recent Crosscut Elway Poll/Cascade Public Media poll shows 50 percent of voters support the fee, while 36 percent oppose it and 14 are undecided.

  • Read more in InsideClimate News and Geekwire.

great: there’s lots of environment-related coverage of the midterm elections

  • Westword digs into Colorado’s Amendment 74, which would, under the guise of protecting property rights, change the state constitution to “[shield] oil and gas corporations from all public-interest regulations that may emerge as population growth and energy development collide in the Rocky Mountain West.”

  • The Revelator rounds up important environmental and energy ballot measures around the country.

  • OPB’s issue-centric coverage of Oregon’s race for governor includes this item on where each candidate stands on carbon cap-and-trade.

  • “Clean energy’s future could rise or fall with these governor’s races,” reports InsideClimate News.

  • The New York Times explores five important climate votes on November ballots nationwide.

  • Grist offers this take on how voters’ environmental worries may affect five competitive House races.

  • Vox explains a new voter’s guide that scores Democratic and Republican candidates for House and Senate, both incumbents and challengers, on their climate change policy bona fides.

  • Even Marie Claire highlights several important environmental ballot measures.

  • Is there enviro, energy, or climate midterms coverage that I missed? Please post a link in the comments.

Reader survey results!

Thank you to everyone who took the reader survey. I’m already using your feedback on what’s working, what could be better, and how to expand this venture in the near future. Also, thanks for all the variations on “you’re doing great, keep it up!”

Here’s what you told me:

  1. If (de)regulation nation expanded from once to multiple times a week, how often should it come out?

  • Answer: 88.24% of you said that you’d prefer an expanded schedule of “two to three times” a week.

  1. Which of the following would make you more likely to pay a small monthly or yearly subscription fee for (de)regulation nation? Check all that apply.

  • Multiple newsletters a week: 0

  • Original reporting in addition to the B2G2 news roundups: 58.82%

  • A weekly interview with a newsworthy person: 52.94%

  • Original photography or illustrations: 29.41%

  • A weekly cartoon: 23.53%

  • Other (selected comments below): 29.41%

  • “I really like the analysis that the newsletter provides. It's not just a compilation of links but a thoughtful digestion of news. I'd pay for that.”

  • “a podcast”

  1. What else would you like me to know?

    Selected comments:

  • “I like the content structure though since it makes the info easier to digest. The design of the site and posts could be improved to make the text more readable".”

  • “I enjoy the relative brevity of this compared to other newsletters, that’s a plus”

  • “I think once a week + original reporting is the sweet spot”

  • “Mon would look ahead to the week and/or showcase original nail reporting; Wed would cover breaking news & Fri would analyze the past week thematically & perhaps look ahead.”

  • “The fact that the header is so long makes it difficult to get to the newsletter itself.” (Good observation. I’ve shortened it.)

Thanks for reading (de)regulation nation, a production of Brooklyn Radio Telegraph LLC.

This newsletter is written by me, Emily J Gertz. I’m an environmental journalist. Learn more about me and see some of my work at my web site.

If you’ve received (de)regulation nation from a friend and like it, please subscribe.

This week’s quote is by novelist Maxine Kaplan. Read her whole essay, “Read and then vote. And, for goodness sake, stop at red lights,” on yainterrobang.com.

Send tips and feedback: emily@deregnation.com