EPA staff told to prepare for Trump executive orders

Feb 17, 2017

By David Shepardson, Timothy Gardner and Richard Valdmanis | WASHINGTON

Staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been told that President Donald Trump is preparing a handful of executive orders to reshape the agency, to be signed once a new administrator is confirmed, two sources who attended the meeting told Reuters on Wednesday.

A senior EPA official who had been briefed by members of the Trump administration mentioned the executive orders at a meeting of staffers in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel on Tuesday, but did not provide details about what the orders would say, said the sources, who asked not to be named.

“It was just a heads-up to expect some executive orders, that’s it,” one of the sources said.

The second source said attendees at the meeting were told Trump would sign between two and five executive orders.

Trump administration officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump has promised to cut U.S. environmental rules – including those ushered in by former President Barack Obama targeting carbon dioxide emissions – as a way to bolster the drilling and coal mining industries, but has vowed to do so without compromising air and water quality.

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8 comments on “EPA staff told to prepare for Trump executive orders

  • Inside Climate News

    A Pulitzer Prize-winning, non-profit, non-partisan news organization dedicated to covering climate change, energy and the environment.

    Trump’s Repeal of Stream Rule Helps Coal at the Expense of Climate and Species
    The stream protection rule finalized under President Obama would have reduced emissions and the harmful effects of coal mining on thousands of waterways.


    FEB 16, 2017


    When he signed an unusual act of Congress rolling back a regulation to protect streams from mining pollution on Thursday, President Donald Trump made good on his promise to ease up on coal mining.

    The repeal will mean more greenhouse gas pollution from burning coal. It’s also bad news for scores of little-known imperiled species, such as nearly 50 types of freshwater mussels that live in waters affected by mining.

    So far, several of the dozen or so rules being targeted for repeal via the Congressional Review Act, a form of legislative veto of regulations, involve fossil fuel development.

    From OP: “Trump has promised to cut U.S. environmental rules – including those ushered in by former President Barack Obama targeting carbon dioxide emissions – as a way to bolster the drilling and coal mining industries, but has vowed to do so without compromising air and water quality.” [Emphasis addded.]

    Bull shit! Trump and his appointees, and Bannon and Miller and all the rest of them, and the corporate executives and the Republicans that are colluding and cooperating with this administration, are a bunch nefarious gangsters and degenerates dressed up in business suits! Anyone who places profit over nature, our eco-systems, the environment and living things (and this includes human life), suffers from moral turpitude, is, at the very least, spiritually and emotionally impoverished. Is there no one who can stop this assault? What gives them the right?

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  • @OP- Trump has promised to cut U.S. environmental rules
    including those ushered in by former President Barack Obama
    targeting carbon dioxide emissions –
    as a way to bolster the drilling and coal mining industries,
    but has vowed to do so without compromising air and water quality.

    . . . .because he is an inveterate liar, who is so uncaring and pig-ignorant about what constitutes air and water quality, or environmental issues, that he has no problem with making promises which contradict each other in the same paragraph!


    America’s Biggest
    Mercury Polluters
    How Cleaning Up the Dirtiest Power
    Plants Will Protect Public Health

    Coal-fired power plants are a major source of airborne mercury pollution.
    •The Big Brown Steam Electric Station and Lignite
    Coal Mine in Fairfield, Texas, emitted 1,610 pounds of mercury pollution into our air in 2010, the most of any industrial facility in the nation.

    •This amount is significant because mercury is so potent. Distributed over a wide area, just fractions of an ounce of mercury can contaminate local and regional water bodies, making resident fish unsafe to eat. All 50 states currently have advisories warning women and children
    not to eat local fish due to mercury contamination.

    Of the top 10 biggest mercury-polluting power plants in the country, six are located in Texas, with one each in Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri
    and Ohio. Table ES-1 lists these top 10 biggest mercury polluters.

    Among all states nationwide, Texas ranked first in terms of overall airborne mercury pollution produced by power plants in 2010.
    Ohio ranked second, followed by Pennsylvania in third.

    (See Table ES-2.)

    Just five companies were responsible for more than one-third of all power plant mercury emissions in 2010, led by American Electric Power with 6,200 pounds. (See Table ES-3.)

    As we can all see – the present levels of pollution in air and water are just TOO clean for Americans – and especially Texans, if the present regulations are kept!! 🙂

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  • Rachael Maddow started her show last night with a segment on Scott Pruitt and his involvement in a gruesome botched execution of a prisoner. Pruitt was responsible for choice of drug that would kill the prisoner. No medical advice was sought. The prisoner suffered an agonizing death that amounts to torture. This guy Pruitt is going to run the EPA. Disgusting.


    Pruitt the executioner.

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  • Trump does seem consistent in picking the worst candidate for each department!


    President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency has been confirmed by the Senate.

    Scott Pruitt has been a fierce critic of the agency he will now be running.

    A judge in Oklahoma on Thursday ordered him to release, by Tuesday, emails he exchanged with oil and gas executives while Oklahoma attorney general.

    In a contentious confirmation process, Democrats boycotted an earlier vote over his email refusal and claimed he was too close to energy companies.

    They held the Senate floor through the night to put pressure on the chamber to delay the confirmation vote until the emails were handed over.

    But the Republican-controlled Senate voted in favour of his confirmation by 52 to 46.

    Mr Pruitt had refused to hand over the emails, at the request of a liberal watchdog, for more than two years.

    Environmental groups said they feared he will loosen the regulations on energy companies.

    During his confirmation hearing he said he disagreed with Mr Trump saying climate change was a hoax, but he has previously cast doubt on the overwhelming evidence that changes in the earth’s temperature are down to humans.

    Matt McGrath, BBC environment correspondent

    Mr Pruitt is perhaps the most controversial appointment in the history of the EPA – the Oklahoma attorney general has spent years fighting the role and reach of the organisation he now heads.

    Hundreds of former EPA staff members wrote an open letter against his appointment, some calling him an “unqualified extremist”.

    Environmental campaigners see him as an oil and gas industry stooge who is “lukewarm” on the threat posed by climate change – they fear that hard-won environmental regulations will be overturned.

    Key among them is the 2009 ruling that greenhouse gas emissions endanger both the environment and public health. This underpinned many of the actions taken by President Obama to curb CO2.

    With Mr Pruitt in place, it’s likely that President Trump will rapidly push ahead with orders to overturn Obama’s Clean Power Plan and his “Waters of the US” rule, something conservatives also see as an over-extension of federal power.

    Perhaps Trump voters thought that some hurricane would miraculously assemble a new economy from the wreckage in scrapyard America – after Trump has dismantled the working parts! ! . .. But hey! I bet Putin is applauding this!

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  • @OP – Trump has promised to cut U.S. environmental rules
    including those ushered in by former President Barack Obama targeting carbon dioxide emissions –
    as a way to bolster the drilling and coal mining industries,
    but has vowed to do so without compromising air and water quality.

    His order liberating coal mines enabling them to dump waste in streams, suggests this “vow” is cosmetic twitter babble, rather than a serious commitment to avoid pollution.

    The next issue is water contamination from fracking and drilling!


    Up to 16% of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill liquids every year, according to new research from US scientists.

    They found that there had been 6,600 releases from these fracked wells over a ten-year period in four states.

    The biggest problems were reported in oil-rich North Dakota where 67% of the spills were recorded.

    The largest spill recorded involved 100,000 litres of fluid with most related to storing and moving liquids.

    Higher numbers

    The rapid growth in the extraction of oil and gas from unconventional sources in the US has had a massive impact on the production and consumption of energy over the past ten years.

    The key to this expansion has been the use of hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting fluids with chemical additives under pressure to crack underground rock and release the trapped resources.

    However, environmental campaigners have long been troubled by the potential for this process to contaminate water supplies and the environment through leaks and spills.

    A study carried out by the US Environment Protection Agency on fracking in eight states between 2006 and 2012 concluded that 457 spills had occurred.

    But this new study, while limited to just four states with adequate data, suggests the level of spills is much higher. The researchers found 6,648 spills between 2005 and 2014.

    “The EPA just looked at spills from the hydraulic fracturing process itself which is just a few days to a few weeks,” lead author Dr Lauren Patterson from Duke University told BBC News.

    “We’re looking at spills at unconventional wells from the time of the drilling through production which could be decades.”

    The state reporting the highest level of spills was North Dakota, a hot bed of activity in both oil and gas recovery.

    The data recorded 4,453 incidents in the state, much higher than Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Mexico.

    This can be explained by reporting requirements. In North Dakota, any spill bigger than 42 US gallons has to be reported while in Colorado and New Mexico the requirement was 210 gallons.

    Most of the spills occurred in the first three years of operation. Around 50% of spills were related to the storage and movement of fluids via pipelines. The underlying causes were difficult to determine because of different reporting requirements.

    “The causes are quite varied,” said Dr Patterson.

    “Equipment failure was the greatest factor, the loading and unloading of trucks with material had a lot more human error than other places.”

    A surprising number of spills occurred at wells which had recorded a previous incident, over half in the case of North Dakota.
    This suggests that targeted inspections on these sites might have a significant impact in reducing spills.

    For the authors the underlying message is that better and more uniform data collection and reporting across different states would allow the industry and environmentalists to better assess the impact of fracked wells on the environment.

    “Analyses like this one are so important, to define and mitigate risk to water supplies and human health,” said Kate Konschnik, another author on the paper from Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative.

    “Writing state reporting rules with these factors in mind is critical, to ensure that the right data are available – and in an accessible format – for industry, states and the research community.”

    The study has been published in the journal, Environmental Science & Technology.

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  • @OP – a way to bolster the drilling and coal mining industries,
    but has vowed to do so without compromising air and water quality.


    Undoing Obama-era waterway regulations

    Surrounded by farmers and Republican lawmakers, Mr Trump signed an order on 28 February directing the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers to reconsider a rule issued by President Obama.

    The 2015 regulation – known as the Waters of the United States rule – gave authority to the federal government over small waterways, including wetlands, headwaters and small ponds.

    The rule required Clean Water Act permits for any developer that wished to alter or damage these relatively small water resources, which the president described as “puddles” in his signing remarks.

    Opponents of Mr Obama’s rule, including industry leaders, condemned it as a massive power grab by Washington.

    Scott Pruitt, Mr Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, will now begin the task of rewriting the rule, and a new draft is not expected for several years.

    Immediate impact: The EPA has been ordered to rewrite, or even repeal the rule, but first it must be reviewed. Water protection laws were passed by Congress long before Mr Obama’s rule was announced, so it cannot simply be undone with the stroke of a pen. Instead the EPA must re-evaluate how to interpret the 1972 Clean Water Act.

    The value of Trump double-talk assurances on “clean water” and “clean air”, are becoming evident!

    Coal waste

    A bill the president signed on 16 February put an end to an Obama-era regulation that aimed at protecting waterways from coal mining waste.

    Senator Mitch McConnell had called the rule an “attack on coal miners”.

    The US Interior Department, which reportedly spent years drawing up the regulation before it was issued in December, had said it would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests.

    Years of planning undone in a few minutes, by a Twitter-head – who gives himself a self assessed “A” grade for his incompetent antics and self-contradictions, when realistically he rates “Z -” for quality checks of outcomes and responsible researching of the pollution issues!!

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  • I see Trump’s poor choice of Team who can’t or won’t give straight answers, just keeps coming back again and again!


    Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions under fire over Russia meetings

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions met Russia’s ambassador during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, despite telling his confirmation hearing he had “no communications with the Russians”.

    The justice department confirmed he met Sergei Kislyak in July and September last year as part of his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Mr Sessions on Wednesday said his comments at his confirmation related to his role on the Trump campaign team.

    Democrats accused him of lying on oath.

    They said he must resign, and also called on him to step aside from an investigation by the FBI – which he oversees as attorney general – into alleged Russian interference in the US election, including contacts between Russian officials and those involved in campaigning.

    The US intelligence community has concluded that alleged Russian hacking of Democratic organisations was carried out to help Mr Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    Mr Trump’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, allegedly regarding sanctions against Moscow.

    As reported in the Washington Post and confirmed by the justice department, Mr Sessions met Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee twice last year.

    The Post reports that they held a private conversation in Mr Sessions’s office in September and had spoken earlier in the summer at a meeting with several other ambassadors.

    Mr Sessions had meetings with more than 25 foreign ambassadors in the course of the year.

    But his meetings with Mr Kislyak came while he was a prominent part of Mr Trump’s campaign team – a so-called surrogate – and amid growing reports of Russian meddling in the US election.

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  • It seems Michael Flynn was not the only member of the Trump team to have meetings with Sergei Kislyak, and there would clearly be conflicts of interest in anyone involved or on the fringes who might be involved, being involved in setting up an “independent” investigation – especially after all of Trump’s denials of the issue!


    Top Republicans are urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remove himself from an FBI probe into alleged Russian interference in the US election.

    Mr Sessions is under fire after it emerged he had met Russia’s ambassador during the election – despite telling his confirmation hearing he had “no communications with the Russians”.

    Democratic politicians say he misled the hearing and should resign.

    Mr Sessions has called the accusations “unbelievable” and “false”.

    Claims of Russian interference in the election have dogged President Donald Trump.

    The US intelligence community believes the alleged Russian hacking of Democratic organisations was carried out to help Mr Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    During his confirmation hearing on 10 January, Mr Sessions was asked: “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government, in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

    Mr Sessions responded: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it.”

    But his meetings with Mr Kislyak came while he played a prominent part of Mr Trump’s campaign team – the so-called surrogate – and amid growing reports of Russian meddling in the US election.

    His spokeswoman says there was “absolutely nothing misleading about his answer” because the meetings were in relation to his role on the Armed Services Committee, rather than as a member of the Trump campaign.

    The White House has also backed him, while Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said there was no evidence that anyone in Mr Trump’s campaign had been involved in Russian election meddling.

    However, several top Republicans have broken rank to say he should step aside from overseeing the FBI investigation into Russian hacking allegations.

    Russian envoy Sergei Kislyak was at the centre of the scandal that brought down Mike Flynn

    House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said he “lied under oath” and that “anything less than resignation or removal from office is unacceptable”.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, has called for an investigation into whether Mr Sessions perjured himself.

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