EPA now requires political aide’s sign-off for agency awards, grant applications

Sep 6, 2017

By Juliet Eilperin

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience.

In this role, John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued. According to both career and political employees, Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for “the double C-word” — climate change — and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.

Konkus, who officially works in the EPA’s public affairs office, has canceled close to $2 million competitively awarded to universities and nonprofit organizations. Although his review has primarily affected Obama administration priorities, it is the heavily Republican state of Alaska that has undergone the most scrutiny so far.

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4 comments on “EPA now requires political aide’s sign-off for agency awards, grant applications

  • @OP- In this role, John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued.
    According to both career and political employees,
    Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout
    for “the double C-word” — climate change

    and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.

    Konkus, who officially works in the EPA’s public affairs office,
    has canceled close to $2 million competitively awarded to universities and nonprofit organizations.

    No! No! No!
    For Trump appointees, “the double C-word” is CLUELESS CLOWN!
    It is an essential qualification for Trump appointments!



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  • @OP- Although his review has primarily affected Obama administration priorities,
    it is the heavily Republican state of Alaska
    that has undergone the most scrutiny so far.

    Given that the temperature rises and rapid thawing of ice are greatest in the Arctic, and are having large effects on local Arctic populations, the desperate need for denialist suppression of evidence is at a maximum in the US state of Alaska!
    Those scientists must be prevented from measuring the evidence and exposing Trumpies as scientifically illiterate fools who are babbling their made-up “alternative facts”, if deceiver-dummies are to keep their jobs and keep their electors conned!!



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  • @OP – In this role, John Konkus, reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued.
    According to both career and political employees,
    Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for “the double C-word” — climate change
    and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.

    Konkus, who officially works in the EPA’s public affairs office,
    has canceled close to $2 million competitively awarded to universities and nonprofit organizations.

    America last???
    So while the science-illiterate John Konkus tries to take the US to the bottom of the world climate information and innovation league. . . . .

    Europe moves on without him!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41604186

    A UK-assembled satellite has launched from Russia on a mission to monitor air quality around the globe.

    Its Dutch-designed instrument will make 20 million observations daily, building maps of polluting gases and particles known to be harmful to health.

    Called Sentinel-5P, the spacecraft is a contribution to the EU’s Copernicus Earth-monitoring programme.

    The EU, with the help of the European Space Agency (Esa), is developing a constellation of satellites as part of its Copernicus programme.

    Five of the platforms are already up; many more will follow in the next few years.

    All called Sentinels, they are tasked with taking the pulse of the planet and gathering data that can inform the policies of member states – everything from fisheries management to urban planning.

    The Sentinels, in number and capability, dwarf anything planned elsewhere in the world, and Sentinel-5 Precursor, to give it its full title, is one of the big UK contributions to the whole endeavour.

    The satellite’s TROPOMI instrument has been developed by a consortium led from the Netherlands’ national meteorological agency (KNMI), and will build daily global maps of key gases that contribute to pollution.

    These include nitrogen dioxide, ozone, formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide.
    All affect the air we breathe and therefore our health, and a number of them also play a role in climate change.




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  • Anyway, for the present, NASA’s previous efforts are bearing fruitful data on CO2 and global climate effects.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41604760

    **A Nasa satellite has provided remarkable new insights on how CO2 is moved through the Earth’s atmosphere. **

    The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) tracked the behaviour of the gas in 2015/2016 – a period when the planet experienced a major El Niño event.

    This climate phenomenon boosts the amount of CO2 in the air.

    The US space agency’s OCO satellite was able to show how that increase was controlled by the response of tropical forests to heat and drought.

    The forests’ ability to draw down carbon dioxide, some of it produced by human activity, was severely curtailed.

    The science has significant implications because the kind of conditions associated with El Niños are expected to become much more common under global warming.

    “If future climate is more like this recent El Niño, the trouble is the Earth may actually lose some of the carbon removal services we get from these tropical forests, and then CO2 will increase even faster in the atmosphere,” explained Scott Denning, an OCO science team member from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. That would amplify warming, he told reporters.

    Technical papers describing OCO’s work have just been published in Science Magazine.

    Normally, the concentration of the gas in the atmosphere goes up each year by about two parts per million by volume (ppmv) of air molecules – the equivalent of four gigatonnes of extra CO2. The current total is just over 400ppmv.

    But in this extraordinary El Niño period, the jump was 3ppmv, per year – or six gigatonnes.

    It is a rate of increase not seen on Earth in at least 2,000 years.

    They are clearly showing climate feed-back effects of a hotter and in some places drier climate!

    What was remarkable, however, was that human emissions of carbon dioxide were thought to have been relatively static over the same period, meaning something strikingly went wrong with the processes that would normally scrub CO2 from the atmosphere.

    OCO’s ability to track the gas and sense the rate of photosynthesis in plants provided the answers.

    In South America, it could show that the biggest drought in 30 years limited vegetation’s ability to consume CO2.

    In Africa, hotter than average temperatures increased decomposition of plant material, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

    And in Asia, tinder-dry conditions fed rampant fires, particularly in Indonesia. “The fires released peat carbon that had accumulated over thousands of years,” said Junjie Liu, an OCO research scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    “This is the gold star for OCO: we wanted to understand what happened in different regions of the world,” said Nasa deputy project scientist Annmarie Eldering.



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