Monday, March 13, 2017

Those “devastating” EPA reductions

Budget and personnel cuts reflect environmental progress and essential regulatory reforms

Paul Driessen

The Trump White House wants significant reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency: two dozen or more programs, including a dozen dealing with President Obama’s climate initiatives; a 20% downsizing in EPA’s 15,000-person workforce; and a one-fourth reduction in its $8.1 billion budget.

The plan requires congressional approval, and thus is hardly a “done deal.” Not surprisingly, it is generating howls of outrage. Former U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the proposal would be “crippling,” and “devastating for the agency's ability to protect public health.”

One employee resigned because the cuts would prevent him from serving “environmental justice” and “vulnerable communities.” A congressman claimed EPA is “already operating at 1989 staffing levels,” and the reductions could mean “cutting the meat and muscle with the fat.”

A deep breath and objective assessment are in order.

1) Since EPA was created in December 1970, America’s environmental progress has been amazing. Our cars now emit less than 2% of the pollutants that came out of tailpipes 47 years ago. Coal-fired power plant particulate, mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions are 10-20 % of their 1970 levels. The white plumes above factory and power plant “smoke stacks” are 90% steam (water vapor) and plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide (which Obama EPA officials disingenuously called “carbon pollution”).

Our lakes, rivers, streams and coastal areas are infinitely cleaner and far safer to drink from or swim in. The notorious lead contamination in Flint, Michigan water occurred under Gina McCarthy’s watch, because her agency didn’t do its job. It was her EPA officials who also triggered the infamous Gold King Mine blowout that contaminated hundreds of miles of river water with arsenic and other toxic metals.

So much for “protecting public health,” ensuring “environmental justice,” and safeguarding our most “vulnerable communities.” It’s as if we’ve come full circle, and now need to be protected from EPA. In truth, that goes all the way back to the agency’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, who ignored his own scientists, banned DDT, and sentenced tens of millions of Africans and Asians to death from malaria.

2) EPA became bloated, incompetent and derelict in its fundamental duties largely because it became ideological, politicized and determined to control what it was never intended to regulate. Through mission creep, sue-and-settle lawsuits, and an eight-year quest to help “fundamentally transform” America’s energy and economic system, it attempted to regulate every rivulet, puddle and other “Water of the US,” stuck its nose in numerous local affairs – like the road to a nickel mine in Michigan – and colluded with environmentalists to block Alaska’s Pebble Mine before a permit application had even been submitted.

Most egregious was the agency’s use of alleged “dangerous manmade climate change” to justify its “war on coal,” its “Clean Power Plan,” and its determination to slash fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions by regulating nearly every factory, farm, hospital, mall, drilling project and vehicle in America.

EPA’s other chief climate crusade target was methane, which it called “an extremely powerful climate pollutant” and absurdly claimed is responsible for “a fourth of all global warming to date.” Methane is a tiny 0.00017% of Earth’s atmosphere – equivalent to $1.70 out of $1 million (and compared to 0.04% for CO2) – and U.S. energy operations account for less than a tenth of all annual natural and manmade methane emissions. To control that, EPA wanted industry to spend billions of dollars per year.

It also demanded that cars and light trucks get 54.5 mpg by 2025. To meet that standard, automakers would have to downsize and plasticize vehicles, making them less safe and causing thousands of serious injuries and deaths – a reality that EPA ignored in its cost/benefit and environmental justice analysis.

When states, industries or experts raised questions about EPA’s “CO2 endangerment” decision, its biased and dishonest “social cost of carbon” analysis, or its use of “secret science” and highly suspect computer models to justify “climate chaos” claims – the agency railed about “intimidation” and “interference” with its mandate to “protect public health and welfare.” It’s time to take those questions seriously.

3) EPA obviously has too many anti-energy, anti-development staff, programs and dollars looking for more activities to regulate and terminate, to justify their existence. As these programs are properly and necessarily cut back, EPA budgets and personnel should likewise be reduced.

4) Complying with EPA and other government regulations inflicts staggering costs that reverberate throughout our economy, as businesses and families struggle to read, comprehend and comply with them. The Competitive Enterprise Institute calculated that federal regulations alone cost $1.885 trillion per year – prior to the epic regulatory tsunami of 2016 – with the Obama era alone generating $800 billion to $890 billion in annual regulatory burdens, the American Action Forum estimated.

EPA alone is responsible for well over $353 billion of the cumulative annual federal regulatory bill, CEI’s Wayne Crews estimated, based on 2012 data from the first four years of the Obama presidency. Just as disturbing, the total federal regulatory bill is equal to all individual and corporate tax payments combined.

Even more frightening, embedded in those federal regulations are fines and jail terms for some 5,000 federal crimes and 300,000 less serious criminal offenses. An absence of intent to violate the law, even failure to know and understand millions of pages of laws and regulations, even the mistaken assumption that no agency could possibly implement such an absurd rule, is no excuse. You’re still guilty as charged.

These regulatory burdens crush innovation, job creation, economic growth, and business and family wellbeing. They kill jobs, raise the cost of energy, food, products and services, reduce living standards, harm health and shorten lives. They violate any honest concept of “environmental justice.” Poor, minority, working class and other vulnerable families are hardest hit.

5) In fact, environmental justice is little more than a meaningless, malleable, phony concoction whose primary purpose is promoting progressive programs. Whatever EPA seeks to do advances justice and protects the vulnerable. Whatever an industry does or wants is unjust. Whenever anyone criticizes an agency action, it reflects racism or callous disregard for public health.

Only the effects of government regulations, and the actions of government regulators, appear to be exempt from recrimination, intimidation and penalties imposed in the name of environmental justice.

6) Fully 98% of all counties in the United States voted for Donald Trump and his vision for a less regulated, more prosperous nation, with fewer diktats from a Washington, DC that exempts itself from rules it inflicts on others. They did not vote for rolling back real environmental progress – and know full well that President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are doing no such thing.

They also know there is ample room – and abundant need – for the proposed EPA reductions. That’s why a CNN/ORC poll after Mr. Trump’s February 28 speech found that 70% of Americans who watched felt more optimistic about the nation’s future, and his policies and priorities were what the country needs now.

7) If President Trump’s program, budget and personnel proposals for EPA are approved, many highly paid agency employees will lose their jobs. That’s always painful, as thousands of coal miners, power plant operators and other employees in communities impacted by heavy-handed EPA regulations can attest – and as the powerful new documentary film “Collateral Damage” demonstrates.

However, downsizing is often essential to the survival of a company – or a country. As President Obama was fond of saying, elections have consequences. Let’s hope Congress and the Trump Administration move forward on EPA restructuring, stand firmly in the face of the predictable forces of professional outrage, and do a good job explaining why these changes are absolutely essential.

Ricevuto per e-mail

Sanders attacks EPA head using debunked talking points

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Socialist-Independent from Vermont, went on a tear yesterday when he learned the EPA's new head #Scott Pruitt said on CNN he didn't think CO2 was the predominant cause of #Climate Change. Sanders told CNN's Wolf Blitzer it was "pathetic" to have an EPA administrator who held these views and called him a “denier.”

The debate was over, he thundered, and "90 percent of scientists" agree that human activity and CO2 emissions are causing problems around the world. He also railed that emissions were causing "devastating problems already in the U.S." and across the globe. Sanders also said Pruitt was a "threat to the well-being" of everyone on Earth.

But Pruitt said measuring with precision the impact human activity had on the climate was “very challenging” and there was "tremendous disagreement" on the degree of its influence. He said he didn't believe CO2 was the primary driver behind the one degree Celsius of global warming that's occurred since the planet exited the Little Ice Age in 1850.

If Sanders had been keeping up with the scientific literature, he'd know the atmosphere gets heated from multiple sources: some natural and some man-made. Even the Washington Post weighed in and said scientists can’t measure how much warming occurs after CO2 is added to the atmosphere.

But the strongest greenhouse gas on Earth is water vapor, not CO2. There are other climate drivers that are also entirely natural: the sun’s heat and magnetic variations, volcanic activity, oceanic currents, the planet’s tilt and wobble, methane from wetlands/animals, plate tectonics, elevation of land masses, albedo effect, flora and fauna, and atmospheric circulation.

Climate science is one of the most complicated fields that rely largely on global computer models (GCMs), projections, and far-flung scenarios that incorporate al the variables above and a few not listed. To date, the GCMs the UN IPCC relies on have been running too hot and diverging further and further from observed data. That's a problem for those seeking more research and grant money.

Sanders also stated there were devastating climate-related problems across the U.S. despite a dearth of evidence to back up those claims. A recent study showed that there was actually more extreme weather in the first half of the 20th century than the second half. Droughts, floods, precipitation (rain and snow), tornados and more are all within norms. Sanders is pushing alarmism by linking naturally occurring weather events to global warming.

For example, as March rolled in with pleasant weather along the East Coast, a Wall Street Journal editor wrote, "Yet Trump & his administration still deny there's a problem." As did a host of other journalists. A few mild days in March is proof of weather, not climate change. It allows us to use less fuel to heat our homes, which incidentally lowers CO2 emissions. #Bernie Sanders


G-20 Poised To Signal Retreat From Paris Climate Deal Pledge

Finance ministers for the U.S., China, Germany and other members of the Group of 20 economies may scale back a robust pledge for their governments to combat climate change, ceding efforts to the private sector. Citing “scarce public resources,” the ministers said they would encourage multilateral development banks to raise private funds to accomplish goals set under the 2015 Paris climate accord, according to a preliminary statement drafted for a meeting that will be held in Germany next week. --Joe Ryan, Bloomberg, 11 March 2017

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States signals the beginning of the end of international climate alarmism. Trump’s victory has shaken the green movement to its core and will almost certainly lead to the Paris climate agreement’s unraveling. Obama and European leaders have pledged to create for it an annual US$100-billion climate fund, which is what attracts most of the signatories to the Paris agreement, who expect to be its beneficiaries. There is now zero chance the U.S. will pay them the reward they were expecting. Even in the unlikely event that the green lobby were to succeed in converting Trump into a supporter of Obama’s Paris agreement, Republican senators would continue to block all funding for its implementation, including any funds for the $100-billion Green Climate Fund without which the Paris agreement would ultimately unravel. --Benny Peiser, Financial Post, 21 November 2016


Massive oil discovery in Alaska is biggest onshore find in 30 years

Greenie prophecies of shortages once again prove the opposite of the truth

Some 1.2 billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Alaska, marking the biggest onshore discovery in the U.S. in three decades.

The massive find of conventional oil on state land could bring relief to budget pains in Alaska brought on by slumping production in the state and the crash in oil prices.

The new discovery was made in just the past few days in Alaska's North Slope, which was previously viewed as an aging oil basin.

Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY) and its privately-held U.S. partner Armstrong Energy announced the find on Thursday, predicting production could begin as soon as 2021 and lead to as much as 120,000 barrels of output per day.

The oil resources lie in a well, called Horseshoe, that's 75% owned by Denver-based Armstrong. Repsol owns the rest of this well.

The discovery is 20 miles south of where the two companies have already found oil in a project known as Pikka. That northern project is already in early development and is 51% owned by Armstrong, which is the operator on both developments.

"The interesting thing about this discovery is the North Slope was previously thought to be on its last legs. But this is a significant emerging find," Repsol spokesman Kristian Rix told CNNMoney.

Of course, this news won't ease rising concern among investors about the stubborn glut of oil in the U.S. There are increasing signs that shale oil producers are preparing to ramp up output after surviving a two-year price war with OPEC.

Repsol has been actively exploring in Alaska since 2008 and has an additional presence in the Gulf of Mexico. Shares of the oil and gas company jumped nearly 3% in Madrid trading on Friday.

The North Slope find comes less than six months after Caelus Energy and private-equity giant Apollo Global Management announced a massive Alaska oil discovery in the waters of Smith Bay.

All of this is a big win for Alaska, which last year had to freeze hiring and limit state employee travel due to trouble in the oil industry. Alaska, which relies on oil and gas taxes for the vast majority of its state revenue, has been hit by the one-two punch of shrinking production from its mature fields and the fact that oil prices have been cut in half in recent years.

Things have gotten so bad that the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is barely being used these days.

"This is also great news for the State of Alaska," Alaska Governor Bill Walker said in a statement. "We must all pull together to fill an oil pipeline that's three-quarters empty."


Fake News: Whipping up a media frenzy over bizarre “records” before they occur

Australia’s “leading climate scientists” can’t predict the climate but they are very good PR operatives. Here in Perth we’ve had a cool year — for the last twelve months it’s been nearly a whole degree cooler than the average for the last 20 years.

But last weekend in Perth, news stories told us we’d had an “autumn stinker” and wait for it, we might get Perth’s second hottest first eight days of March. Call that a HFEDOM record and write in the Guinness Book of records. It’s a permutation “record” almost as important as the longest distance run by a man holding a table in his teeth. Except it’s not even a record, it’s a news story about a record that “might happen”, but didn’t.

Let’s name Neil Bennett (BOM) and Will Steffen (ANU) as the Propaganda-in-Chiefs dumping meaningless climate-trivia on the people in order to generate FEAR and screw more money from the public.

Straight from the New Climate PRAVDA Manual:

Invent contrived trivial permutations in order to use the word “record”

Don’t bother waiting for real data, use forecasts

If record includes the word “cool”, “cooler”, or “cold”, send to trash.

When wrong, crickets.

So science serves its purpose as a tax revenue generator and source of support for parasitic industries that need government money and government propaganda to keep them alive. (Yes, I’m talking about renewable energy).

The public is hammered with record hot stories, even before they’ve happened in this case, yet there are no BoM announcements or media stories detailing WA’s remarkable run of well below average temps since about April last year.

Last week the Climate Council report on summer mentioned Perth had record rainfall and the second hottest December day on record at 42.4C on 21 December, but they didn’t mention 9 February when Perth had by far its coldest February maximum daily temp since records began in 1897, smashing the previous record by a whopping 1.6C.    



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12 March, 2017

An information-light editorial from New England

See below:  They have had the brainwave that Trump climate skepticism  is now the GOP climate position.  They are apparently unaware that conservatives generally have for a long time thought global warming is a crock. It didn't need Trump.

They then proceed to do the impossible: Prove a generalization from a few specific instances.  You can "prove" anything that way.  For a global theory you need global evidence and all they offer in that regard is temperature rises -- now gone -- which were associated  with El Nino. Those rises were associated with FLATLINING CO2 levels so we KNOW that the rises were not a CO2 effect.

But they do make some specific assertions.  They say that completing the Dakota oil pipelie "will lead to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and global warming".  How so?  THey do  not say.  Moving oil and gas by pipeline instead of rail actually reduces CO2 emisions.

But I suppose we should give them credit for at least a nodding acquaintance with science.  They say: "Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, from 25 to 84 times worse by one estimate".  It is true that methane does in the laboratory absorb a lot of electromagnetic frequencies but that is a red herring.  Water vapour also absorbs those frequencies and there is a lot more of that in the atmosphere.  So adding methane to the atmosphere adds nothing to what water vapour has already done!

Nice try but no cigar

Republicans are killing the planet. We say that because President Donald Trump was their nominee and they own him – golden locks, who knows what stocks and barrel of childish tweets.

Yesterday brought the news that 52,000 square miles of permafrost – an area about six times as large as New Hampshire – in Canada’s Northwest Territories has melted, choking rivers with sediment and releasing vast volumes of methane.

Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, from 25 to 84 times worse by one estimate.

What did the Trump administration do as the permafrost was melting? It stopped requiring that the oil and gas industry, a powerful emitter of methane on its own, submit comprehensive data on the amount of methane it is releasing.

Last month, some 50 American cities set all-time-high February temperatures. On Feb. 24 it was 72 degrees in Boston; on Feb. 23 it was 65 in Concord, a record for the capital city. In each of the past three years the planet has set a new record average annual temperature.

What did Trump do? Pick career EPA foe and climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt to head the environmental agency and climate change denier Ryan Zinke to head the Interior Department.

Trump and his allies are gnawing away on the Clean Power Plan designed to curb carbon emissions from power plants, lifting or weakening regulations on coal mining and mountain top removal, and rolling back auto industry emission standards.

Trump’s promise to put the nation’s coal miners back to work, the New York Times says, is as likely to happen as the return of Nantucket’s whaling fleet.

Somalia, Kenya and other East African nations are suffering their worst drought in half a century. Millions are threatened by famine and the death toll is growing. Climate change is believed to be a factor.

Trump proposed cutting foreign aid and the State Department’s budget. He wants to reduce the EPA’s workforce by 20 percent and defund the agency’s climate change and clean energy programs.

Last year, the Alaskan village of Newtok voted to relocate. Rising sea levels, raging storms and melting permafrost had made its existence tenuous. Rising sea levels and more intense storms threaten many of the world’s coastlines and coastal cities, including Portsmouth.

What does the Trump administration do? Speed the permitting of the Dakota Access Pipeline to carry oil to Midwestern refineries and order the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in the south.

Both measures will lead to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

The horrific condition of the nation’s air and water caused a public clamor that led to the creation of the EPA in 1970. Insidiously, the Trump administration wants to silence critics and prevent public outcry by controlling the information the public can see or not collecting it in the first place.

Trump issued a gag order barring EPA employees from releasing any data or studies to the public prior to their review by political appointees. Similar prohibitions were imposed on other agencies.

Gone from the White House website is any mention of climate change. Nationally, banks of researchers, data experts, computer code writers, librarians and other volunteers are working to archive as much of the agencies’ research and scientific data, paid for with public funds, as they can before it’s hidden or destroyed.

Trump’s war on the environment and information itself is under way. Republicans own that, too.


Scientists alarmed after Great Barrier Reef is hit by a SECOND year of coral bleaching

Note that both the GBRMPA and AIMS below have NOT attributed the event to global warming.  Only ratbag outfits like Greenpeace and WWF have done that.  And there is a reason for that circumspection. Cape Grim tells us that CO2 levels have been plateaued on 401ppm since last July (midwinter)  So anything thst has happened in the recent summer is NOT due to a rise in CO2.  And NASA/GISS tell us that the December global temperature anomaly is back to .79 -- exactly where it was in 2014 before the recent El Nino event that covered the second half of 2015 and most of 2016.  So there has been no global warming in the recent Southern summer and there was no CO2 rise to cause anything anywhere anyway.  The claim that this summer's bleaching was an effect of global warming is a complete crock for both reasons.  The data could not be clearer on that

Scientists in Australia have revealed unprecedented damage to the Great Barrier Reef, warning 'we are entering uncharted territory'.

Surveys have shown the coral reef is entering its second year of year bleaching for the first time.

Bleaching happens when algae that lives in the coral is expelled due to stress caused by extreme changes in temperatures, turning the coral white and putting it at risk of dying.

The first aerial survey of 2017 has found shocking levels of bleaching in the central part of the reef, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said.

Marine Park Authority director of reef recovery Dr David Wachenfeld said: 'Mass bleaching is occurring on the Great Barrier Reef for the second consecutive year.

'How this event unfolds will depend very much on local weather conditions over the next few weeks.'

He said not all bleached coral would die, and last year revealed bleaching and mortality could be highly variable across the vast marine park, a World Heritage Site which covers an area larger than Italy.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 mollusc species, and is the habitat of wildlife such as the dugong – sea cow – and the large green turtle.

Conditions on the reef are part of a global coral bleaching event over the past two years, as a result of unusually warm ocean temperatures due to climate change and a strong El Nino weather phenomenon which pushes temperatures up further.

Dr Neal Cantin, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), said the recurrence of widespread coral bleaching in back-to-back summers indicated there was not enough time since 2016's extreme heat event for the corals to fully recover.

'We are seeing a decrease in the stress tolerance of these corals,' he said. 'This is the first time the Great Barrier Reef has not had a few years between bleaching events to recover.

'Many coral species appear to be more susceptible to bleaching after more than 12 months of sustained above-average ocean temperatures. 'We are now entering uncharted territory.'

John Tanzer, from WWF International, said: 'What is unfolding before our very eyes is the starkest evidence that climate change is already wreaking havoc on the ocean.

'Coral reefs are a beloved natural wonder but less appreciated is that they also directly support the jobs, livelihoods and food supplies of many millions of people. What will happen to these people as large areas of coral die?'

He called for a major lift in action to bring down carbon emissions, and scaled efforts to reduce local pressures on reefs so they have the best chance of withstanding climate change.

Brett Monroe Garner, a conservation photographer and marine biologist documenting the bleaching with Greenpeace, said: 'I've been photographing this area of the reef for several years now and what we're seeing is unprecedented.

'Just a few months ago, these corals were full of colour and life. Now, everywhere you look is white. The corals aren't getting the chance to bounce back from last year's bleaching event. If this is the new normal, we're in trouble.'


Greenie corruption at EPA under attack

House lawmakers introduced legislation to block the EPA from appointing science advisers who are currently taking money from the agency

The bill stipulates EPA advisers “shall have no current grants or contracts from the [EPA] and shall not apply for a grant or contract for 3 years following the end of that member’s service on the Board.”

“This bill would ensure that scientists advising EPA on regulatory decisions are not the same scientists receiving EPA grants,” said Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Smith also introduced a bill to prevent EPA from using “secret science” to develop major regulations. Republicans argue EPA and other agencies shouldn’t be able to base regulations on non-public scientific data.

EPA and environmentalists traditionally argued such science should be kept non-public to protect confidential patient data — though it’s not clear why that can’t be redacted.

“Suffice it to say it will not make the EPA great again; it will gut the EPA at the expense of public health and safety,” Andrew Rosenberg, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, told InsideClimate News in February when Smith scheduled a hearing on EPA “secret science.”

Scientists sitting on EPA advisory panels are charged with evaluating the research used to justify regulations, but Republicans have increasingly called into question the true “independence” of advisers benefiting from federal funding.

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute sued EPA last summer to prevent its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee from meeting based on data showing 24 of the 26 members of a clean air advisory panel had gotten, or are the current recipients of, EPA grants.

In total, panel members received more than $190 million from EPA, according EELI attorney Steve Milloy.

Milloy also found 17 of the 20 scientific advisers sitting on EPA’s ozone panel received a total of $192 million in EPA grants over the years.

Smith has long been a critic of EPA’s scientific process, which he says doesn’t have proper checks against bias. Smith noted in 2014 that EPA science panel advisers often reviewed regulation based on their own research without disclosing this to the public.

Smith’s bill prevents EPA advisers from reviewing rules based on their own research unless they publicly disclose this and their research has already been peer-reviewed.

“As both of these bills move forward, our committee is working hard to preserve EPA’s scientific integrity and to help strengthen EPA’s internal review process,” Smith said.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe has also called into question how EPA chooses its scientific advisers.

“I have observed EPA, under the Obama Administration, cherry-picking the same allies to serve on this advisory committee and its subcommittees at the expense of having an open and robust process for selecting external advisers,” Inhofe wrote in a letter sent to the EPA in February 2016.

“The majority of CASAC members have also received considerable financial support from EPA, which calls into question their independence and therefore the integrity of the overall panel,” Inhofe wrote.


Trump cuts EPA office of ‘environmental racism’

Mustafi Ali, head of the EPA’s environmental justice program, has resigned. This is fantastic news, and here’s why:

    Environmental justice, for the unaware, is defined by the EPA as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and polices.”

    That’s the bureaucratic speak. Now, for the layman’s: It’s the government’s way of controlling the people by linking environmental degradations to civil rights — specifically, to the civil rights of minorities and the poor.

    What does water quality have to do with skin color?

If you ask Ali, water has has a lot to do with skin color — in fact, it’s precisely the reason he stepped down. According to Ali’s resignation letter, the EPA’s new leaders have not shown “any indication that they are focused or interested in helping” minority communities, so he feels it would be “best if I take my talents elsewhere.”

Good riddance. Here’s more about how “environmental justice” works:

    The way it works is this: Clean air is a human right. Wealthy people often enjoy clean air because their paychecks allow them to live in homes with decent ventilation, free of roach residue and geographically distant from carbon dioxide-releasing power plants, dirty factories, and areas of high vehicular traffic — meaning, areas of high pollution. Poor people, on the other hand, are forced by their lower incomes to jam into housing that’s roach-infested, nearby trains, transportation hubs and high-pollution buildings and facilities.

    So taxpayers need to cough up money for poorer people to move to wealthier neighborhoods.

So basically it’s the Department of Housing and Urban Development with a fun environmental twist.

Poverty doesn’t discriminate, and neither does clean water. If Trump achieves nothing else during his presidency, getting rid of this race-baiting program is a huge success.

Now to just get rid of the EPA altogether.


Mass. is enforcing its environmental rules less

If super-correct Mass. is losing momentum, it suggests that  less environmental zeal may be coming across the board

Over the past decade, the state Department of Environmental Protection’s enforcement of air and water quality rules has fallen off sharply, as the agency’s workforce shrunk by nearly a third, according to a Globe review of state records.

Enforcement actions for serious violations have dropped by more than half, statistics show, as inspections also declined. Fines collected from violators plummeted during the same period by nearly 75 percent.

“We’ve been working very, very hard to keep a healthy level of inspections,” Martin Suuberg, the agency’s commissioner, said in a telephone interview. “But our numbers reflect that we’ve lost people.”

Reduced oversight at the DEP — historically one of the nation’s best funded and most progressive environmental agencies — comes as the Trump administration is considering major cuts to the federal EPA budget while transferring some responsibilities to the states. Governor Charlie Baker introduced legislation Wednesday to give the state oversight of pollution in Massachusetts’ waterways, now a federal responsibility.

“This should be a wake-up call for Congress and the Trump administration,” said Ken Kimmell, who served as DEP commissioner during Governor Deval Patrick’s administration. “Cutting EPA’s budget will mean less environmental cops on the beat, and states are in no position to pick up the slack.”

During his tenure, staff reductions hindered a number of programs, Kimmell said. For example, the agency had to cut back on the labor-intensive work of testing rivers for the illegal dumping of sewage and fecal matter, he said.

“We just didn’t have the staffing to deal with it,” said Kimmell, now president of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge.

Matthew Beaton, the state’s energy and environmental affairs secretary, declined to answer questions. His office noted that the administration’s latest budget proposal calls for a 4 percent increase for the DEP, which would boost its budget to $53.7 million. Some of that money is earmarked to hire 15 new compliance officers.

The agency’s budget peaked in 2009 at $62.3 million.

In a statement, Beaton said, “The Baker-Polito administration was pleased to propose increased funding for MassDEP . . . to ensure that safe drinking water, clean air, and land protection remain top priorities.”

But over the past decade, the reductions have been stark.

 *  Between 2006 and 2016, the number of agency employees devoted to enforcement, compliance, and environmental monitoring — everywhere from landfills to gas stations — has fallen by nearly 25 percent. At the same time, the number of annual inspections has fluctuated but generally declined.

 *  Inspections have fallen more steeply since Baker took office in 2015. Since then, the agency has conducted about 5,800 annual inspections, more than 1,000 fewer than the median of the past decade.

 *  In the same time, enforcement actions have also declined more significantly than in previous years. Since 2015, the agency engaged in 2,500 enforcement actions — also about 1,000 fewer than the median over the past decade.

‘The cause of the falloff is the depletion of staff.’

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 *  Fines from cases referred to the state attorney general’s office fell by more than half.

 *  Last year, the agency issued just $1.8 million in penalties, the lowest total of the past decade.

Suuberg said the administration wasn’t purposely reducing its enforcement of environmental regulations, although Baker issued a controversial executive order in 2015 that required state agencies to ensure their regulations don’t exceed federal mandates, as many environmental directives do.

Suuberg said the order hasn’t changed the agency’s work. But environmental advocates have raised concerns, contending it could lead to the dismantling of the state’s strict regulations on water and air quality.

George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said he didn’t think the reduced oversight is intentional, but was the inevitable result of chronic budget cuts.

“The cause of the falloff is the depletion of staff,” he said.

He said the agency’s job has become more challenging since 2008, when the state Legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions and Green Communities acts, which required new efforts to cut carbon emissions, increase energy efficiency, and promote renewable energy.

“DEP staff bravely soldiers on, saying they can do the same with less; but the truth is they can only do less with less,” Bachrach said. “As a result, we are not cleaning contaminated sites that could make way for new development and jobs. We’re not as aggressively monitoring pollution and protecting our rivers and open spaces.”

The reduced staff of compliance officers first emerged as a concern in the late 2000s, when DEP Commissioner Laurie Burt presided over the first round of significant layoffs.

Burt said she began to realize she didn’t have the staff or money to perform tasks such as monitoring storm-water runoff from agricultural areas, which can cause toxic algae blooms in surrounding rivers and lakes, and using helicopters to observe the encroachment of development on wetlands.

“It was very difficult not to have those resources,” she said.

By the time David Cash took over as commissioner in 2014, the agency had lost more than 400 employees from its peak of 1,173 employees in 2000. Today, there are about 655 employees.

Those cuts, he said, made it harder to conduct a range of inspections, particularly for a new, high-profile program to remove food scraps from the trash, an effort designed to lower municipal waste costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“At the time, we already had inadequate staffing to adequately carry out inspections in our waste program, so inspections to assure compliance of the new organics program were not as robust as they should have been,” Cash said.

The agency’s challenges come as the Baker administration looks to expand its responsibilities.

The legislation Baker introduced Wednesday would allow the state to take over the so-called National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

The administration has already proposed adding $1.4 million to the agency’s budget to pay for a dozen employees to oversee the program, significantly fewer than environmental officials in the Patrick administration had estimated it would take.

Suuberg said the added responsibilities wouldn’t further compromise the agency’s oversight capacity.

“We’ll continue to focus our resources on high priority public health and environmental issues,” he said.



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