From hunters of African elephants to an election in Pennsylvania
|Emily J Gertz||Mar 19, 2018|
Welcome to the first issue of (de)regulation nation.
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Offering selected news out of the Trump administration, emphasizing issues and people over personalities and White House intrigue. Think water fountain, not firehose.
Amplifying reporting that holds the White House, EPA, Department of Interior and other agencies accountable as they try to unravel protections for air, water, wildlife, communities, public lands and more, and cut the best science and scientists out of the policy picture.
Showcasing good news alongside the depressing and disturbing. (Yes, there's good news.)
This week in (de)regulation nation:
A new Trump administration wildlife advisory board is stacked with big-game hunters and gun industry advocates.
The “International Wildlife Conservation Council” is tasked with advising Interior Department head Ryan Zinke on how to make it easier for hunters to bring elephant and other trophies home to the U.S. from overseas hunting trips. The administration's stance is that promoting international big-game safari tourism to protect for these species will help fund programs in the destination countries.
Ten of the council’s 16 members are connected in some way with Safari Club International, including Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who became world-famous in 2015 for killing Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. Another member, Peter Horn, apparently co-owns a private hunting preserve in New York with Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Wealthy hunters spend tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal-and-controlled hunts. But what's the point of hunting elephants, lions or other big animals if you can't bring a piece of them home? Happily for Trump's safari hunter base, he's moved to overturn the Obama-era ban on elephant and lion trophy imports, despite having claimed to support them.
The New York Times
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Two dozen countries across Latin America and the Caribbean—the world's deadliest region for environmental organizers—have committed to protecting environmentalists from threats and assassinations. To give the agreement legal force, the legislatures of each nation will need to ratify it. But activists who have worked for years to get to this moment say they're encouraged that so many countries have signed on.
Hurricane Maria heavily damaged Puerto Rico’s corals and forests, putting the island’s crucial tourism economy on the line. Now a massive effort is underway to restore those natural wonders. Thanks to $1.5 million in combined U.S. government and non-profit funding, the Force Blue team of retired U.S. military divers is striving to restore thousands of coral reefs; while inland, volunteers and non-profit workers are over 2,000 trees into an effort that will attempt to plant 750,000 new trees by 2025.
Last week a centrist Democrat won a U.S. House seat in a Pennsylvania special election, beating the Trump-backed Republican candidate in a deep-red voting district.
Conor Lamb claimed Pennsylvania’s 18th district by just over 600 votes. Observers credit Lamb for focusing on locally-resonant issues instead of national politics. Since this is southeastern Pennsylvania this included support for natural gas fracking jobs, not a universally lauded position among environment and climate advocates.
But Lamb believes those jobs should come with strong environmental protections, according this position statement to his website:
Government should not be an impediment to energy development and job creation, but we rely on government to enforce the law and hold companies accountable if they endanger workers or pollute our air or water. For purely political reasons, this administration wants to undermine our government's ability to perform basic inspection and law enforcement activities...(T)hat's a mistake, and I'll work to ensure that our government has the necessary resources to do its job, keep workers safe, and protect our air and water.