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Trump & Republicans Are Environmental Disasters


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#161 LFC

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Posted 11 January 2020 - 10:36 AM

The Trump attacks on the National Park System started literally within 24 hours. Part of the reason may be because they said his crowd was (obviously) smaller than Obama's. The rest is, of course, to allow the oligarchs to rape and pillage our lands through extraction that will leave behind a mess after their companies go "bankrupt."

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Even in the dark days of interior secretaries James Watt and Gail Norton, both former attorneys with the anti-environmental Mountain States Legal Foundation, the National Park Service (NPS) was generally left untouched, perhaps because they recognized that some institutions have too much public support or their mission too patriotic to be tossed under the proverbial bus.

This time is different and we should know, as Jon, one of this story’s authors, worked for the last 10 interior secretaries as a career NPS manager, and ultimately led the agency under Barack Obama, and Destry, Jon’s brother and co-author, has worked with the past 12 NPS directors as a conservation advocate. The change began within 24 hours of the inauguration when Donald Trump complained that the NPS was reporting smaller crowds on the National Mall than Obama had drawn. Perhaps this is when the NPS wound up on the list of transgressors. Soon the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, attempted to double the entrance fees, rescinded climate policies and moved seasoned senior national park superintendents around to force their retirements.

After Zinke’s abrupt resignation, secretary David Bernhardt populated too much of the department’s political leadership with unconfirmed, anti-public land sycophants, and announced a reorganization to install his own lieutenants to oversee super regions, realigning NPS from seven regions to twelve in the name of greater efficiency.

Next came the proclamation that career staff in Washington would be sent to the field to be closer to the people they serve, but in reality, to be out of the way and no longer an impediment to his agenda.

Then came the decisions to leave the parks open to impacts during the unfortunate government shutdown, illegally misuse entrance fees, open park trails to e-bikes, suppress climate science, kill wolf pups and bear cubs in their dens to enhance “sport hunting”, privatize campgrounds, and issue muzzle memos to park managers. With a waiver of environmental laws, bulldozers are plowing ancient cacti in national parks along the southern border in order to build a wall. Senior career park managers are likely to be replaced with unqualified political hacks.

These are not random actions. This is a systematic dismantling of a beloved institution, like pulling blocks from a Jenga tower, until it collapses. You ask, why on earth would someone want to do that to the popular National Park Service, the subject of one of Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentaries and often called “America’s best idea”?

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#162 LFC

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:54 PM

Oh, gee. What a shock. I'm knocked over with a feather. Fracking companies are going "bankrupt" and leaving the American taxpayer on the hook for the shutdown and cleanup costs. It's not like any of us could have seen THAT coming.

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In over their heads with debt, U.S. shale oil and gas firms are now moving from a boom in fracking to a boom in bankruptcies. This trend of failing finances has the potential for the U.S. public, both at the state and federal levels, to be left on the hook for paying to properly shut down and clean up even more drilling sites.

Expect these companies to try reducing their debt through the process of bankruptcy and, like the coal industry, attempting to get out of environmental and employee-related financial obligations.

The Bankruptcy of EP Energy
In October, EP Energy — one of the largest oil producers in the Eagle Ford Shale region in Texas — filed for bankruptcy because the firm couldn't pay back almost $5 billion in debt, making it the largest oil and gas bankruptcy since 2016.

EP Energy hasn’t produced a profit since 2014 and Bloomberg reported that the company would need oil to be at “a price closer to $70 per barrel” for EP to be profitable. Oil has not come close to averaging over $70 a barrel since 2014.

Despite its financial struggles at current low oil prices, the company plans to continue operating after restructuring and eliminating up to $3 billion in debt. However, EP has not identified any funds that it would be setting aside for well cleanup, which is not unusual for an oil and gas company.

In response, as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, the U.S. Department of the Interior filed a document arguing that EP Energy is still responsible for its obligations to assure the “decommissioning, plugging, and abandonment” of any of the EP Energy wells that are located on leased federal and tribal lands.

Ideally, that would mean EP Energy sets aside funds for the proper cleanup and end-of-life processes for its oil and gas wells, which number more than 800 in the Eagle Ford region.

However, the federal government hasn't even named a number yet for how much that should be. The Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs “are currently still assessing the status of reclamation and plugging and abandonment obligations across the Debtors’ onshore federal and Indian leases,” writes the Interior Department.

The federal government is only getting around to assessing EP Energy's potential liabilities once the firm is already in the bankruptcy process, revealing one of the flaws in the current system. Federal and state governments have not been holding fracking companies fully liable for the environmental damage and cleanup costs of their drilling activity.

Joshua Caleb Macey, a visiting assistant professor at Cornell law school who specializes in bankruptcy and energy law, told DeSmog that the situation with EP Energy was “frustrating and completely normal.”


Read the rest of the article. It just gets worse. The next section is entitled Including Cleanup Costs Would Make Extraction 'Uneconomic'. Great. These energy companies can't turn a profit unless they externalize costs onto the rest of us. Welcome to the f***ing Randian Paradise. How about the next time we give permission to one of these f***ers to drill we have a law that makes them personally liable with jail time if they can't pay for the cleanup costs. I suspect projects would be more carefully considered.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#163 baw1064

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:59 PM

Since most fracking happens in red states, it's only fair to have the state taxpayers foot the bill (or not) in the name of Federalism.
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#164 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:10 AM

View PostLFC, on 12 January 2020 - 08:54 PM, said:

Oh, gee. What a shock. I'm knocked over with a feather. Fracking companies are going "bankrupt" and leaving the American taxpayer on the hook for the shutdown and cleanup costs. It's not like any of us could have seen THAT coming.

That was going to happen anyway. Oil companies have been incorporating every well they can for decades so that when a well dries up (or is caught dumping waste in someone's pastures) they can just declare bankruptcy and walk away with all of the proceeds while leaving the costs to others. Fracking just does this in a shorter time frame.
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#165 pnwguy

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 11:23 AM

View Postbaw1064, on 12 January 2020 - 08:59 PM, said:

Since most fracking happens in red states, it's only fair to have the state taxpayers foot the bill (or not) in the name of Federalism.
No, they expect Federal help like subsidized flood insurance and other disaster relief. As long as the recipients are melanin-deficient and as long as their taxes don't go up.
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#166 LFC

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 11:28 AM

View PostD. C. Sessions, on 13 January 2020 - 10:10 AM, said:

That was going to happen anyway. Oil companies have been incorporating every well they can for decades so that when a well dries up (or is caught dumping waste in someone's pastures) they can just declare bankruptcy and walk away with all of the proceeds while leaving the costs to others. Fracking just does this in a shorter time frame.

Many home builders do the same. Each development is created by a separate "company" so that they aren't liable for their s*** work 10 years later.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#167 LFC

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 01:42 PM

Trump's DHS has equated people who turned off a valve on oil pipelines coming from Canada with racists who literally murdered people like Dylan Roof.

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A group of US environmental activists engaged in non-violent civil disobedience targeting the oil industry have been listed in internal Department of Homeland Security documents as “extremists” and some of its members listed alongside white nationalists and mass killers, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The group have been dubbed the Valve Turners, after closing the valves on pipelines in four states carrying crude oil from Canada’s tar sands on 11 October 2016 which accounted for about 15% of US daily consumption. It was described as the largest coordinated action of its kind and for a few hours the oil stopped flowing.

The five climate activists, members of Climate Direct Action, cut their way through fencing and turned the valves. The activists notified the energy companies whose pipelines were being disrupted and posted videos of their protest online and waited patiently to be arrested.

They have since been dubbed the “Valve Turners”, profiled in the New York Times magazine and featured in a recent documentary titled The Reluctant Radical. Their trials have also tested the willingness of courts to allow climate activists to make use of the necessity defense – the idea that a criminal action is justified if it helps to prevent greater future harm – as part of a legal strategy.

But the group’s actions attracted the attention of the DHS.

In a recent intelligence bulletin evaluating domestic terrorism threats between 2018 and 2020, the department included the Valve Turners and described the group as “suspected environmental rights extremists”.

The document also listed two of the group’s members alongside violent white supremacists and other extremists who have engaged in mass killings, including the man behind the racist 2015 slaying of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.


Note the convenient bundling of “racial and environmentally themed ideologies.”

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The document also states that “racial and environmentally themed ideologies” were among the primary drivers of terrorist attacks in the United States during this time.

Mike German, a former FBI agent who is now a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote in an email that

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the DHS framing is “highly misleading because white supremacists are responsible for the bulk of this violence and almost all of the fatalities that result”, German said in an email. “There is little evidence,” he added, “that environmentalists have engaged in the types of deadly violence that would meet the statutory definition of domestic terrorism, as codified by Congress”.


This about sums it up. When these environmentalists and locals who just plain don't want their water poisoned start killing people off then we have some level of equivalence.

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Sam Jessup, one of the activists named in the document, said the bulletin sheds light on the role law enforcement and intelligence agencies have played in suppressing dissent.

“Equating mass murder by white supremacists with what Michael and I did is totally obscene,” Jessup said in an email. “This whole infrastructure of so-called security has done little more than secure the future of the fossil fuel industry by terrorizing people into silence.”

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#168 LFC

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 10:01 AM

Since the Trump administration has recently opened up watersheds to polluting how long will it be before they pass laws to protect even more corporate dumping? Here's a company that did it for 15 years ... and paid just $5 million. That's $333,333 per year. Nothing more than a cost of doing business.

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The company that makes Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water has admitted to illegally handling hazardous wastes at its facility in Olancha, California.

On Jan. 9, CG Roxane, LLC, the company behind the bottled water brand, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful storage of hazardous waste and one count of unlawful transportation of hazardous material.

In a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court, the beverage-maker agreed to pay a criminal fine of $5 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The groundwater that CG Roxane sourced from the Sierra Nevada mountains in California contained naturally occurring arsenic, which it filtered out using sand filters.

“To maintain the effectiveness of the sand filters, CG Roxane back-flushed the filters with a sodium hydroxide solution, which generated thousands of gallons of arsenic-contaminated wastewater,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#169 Traveler

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:04 PM

You cannot remove As with sand filters alone. There is some additive to the filters that absorbs As which has to be backflushed with NaOH. So was it discharged, or just stored?

The new wetlands law is a total disaster. That is more important to me than just about anything else nasty this admin does. But I tend to think most CEOs are not going to discharge all of a sudden, assuming it could likely change back in a year under a new regime. Man, did voting ever matter like now.
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#170 LFC

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Posted 06 February 2020 - 03:24 PM

Texans get what they voted for, air pollution for profit.

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An environmental nonprofit has released an analysis of first-of-its-kind air monitoring data that shows benzene levels at 10 U.S. petroleum refineries exceeded limits established in an Obama-era environmental regulation. Six are in Texas.

Eight years ago, two environmental nonprofits sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency was a decade overdue in updating limits on how much hazardous air pollution the country’s oil refineries could emit; the groups hoped a lawsuit would force it to act.
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The result was a regulation that required more than 100 refineries to monitor — and report — levels of cancer-causing benzene along the perimeters of their facilities and to make fixes when concentrations exceed a certain threshold.
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On Thursday, the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project — one of the two nonprofits that sued the EPA in 2012 — released an analysis of the publicly available monitoring data refineries began sending to the EPA in January 2018. It found that 10 of them had reported benzene levels above the established threshold over a one-year period that ended in September. Six of those refineries are in Texas, including three in the Houston metro area.

The Texas refinery that reported the highest concentrations of the hazardous pollutant at its fence line was Total Port Arthur Refinery in Port Arthur, with levels 148% greater than limit, according to the report.

“These results highlight refineries that need to do a better job of installing pollution controls and implementing safer workplace practices to reduce the leakage of this cancer-causing pollutant into local communities,” Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project, said in a statement. “EPA in 2015 imposed regulations to better monitor benzene and protect people living near refineries, often in working-class neighborhoods. Now, EPA needs to enforce these rules.”

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#171 pnwguy

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Posted 06 February 2020 - 04:52 PM

View PostLFC, on 06 February 2020 - 03:24 PM, said:

Texans get what they voted for, air pollution for profit.
Having grown up in the Philadelphia area, I'd visit the area along the Delaware from the lower Schuylkill outlet, down to Marcus Hook. There's a sense of death in the air, when you breathe the output of all of those refineries. It just feels toxic to walk around those plants.
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#172 LFC

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Posted 06 February 2020 - 05:12 PM

View Postpnwguy, on 06 February 2020 - 04:52 PM, said:

Having grown up in the Philadelphia area, I'd visit the area along the Delaware from the lower Schuylkill outlet, down to Marcus Hook. There's a sense of death in the air, when you breathe the output of all of those refineries. It just feels toxic to walk around those plants.

I've done work in those areas. The lower Schuylkill is getting better but the run down to Marcus Hook is still pretty sketchy. Back in the 90s when I worked in continuous air pollution monitoring systems there was an Occidental Chemical plant down there that refused to install monitoring and control venting of a known carcinogen. You know that area so you know that it's surrounded by neighborhoods though most of the people are poor and "pigmentation augmented" so no bid deal, right? The PA DEP hit them with $50,000 fines regularly which was considered to be a cost of doing business. When the Federal EPA landed on them and handed them a $700,000 ticket with threats of future fines they finally cleaned up their act.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#173 pnwguy

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Posted 06 February 2020 - 06:26 PM

View PostLFC, on 06 February 2020 - 05:12 PM, said:

When the Federal EPA landed on them and handed them a $700,000 ticket with threats of future fines they finally cleaned up their act.
You mean those "job killing regulations" that are crippling the righteous Makers? Hair Furor is here to eliminate all of that, to Make America Great (for rich white people) Again.

Volatile organic compounds in the air and water are a Chinese hoax.
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"It all makes sense when you remind yourself that the GOP is no longer a political party but turned into an organized crime family"

"I hope to live long enough that the name Trump is reviled as much as the name Hitler or Stalin"

#174 LFC

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Posted 12 February 2020 - 05:46 PM

Some (many red) states are killing other downwind state residents. This is why we need a real EPA, not Trump's environmental rape department.

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If you're an American made sick by air pollution, pushing your state to clean up its act seems the logical response. However, this will only take you so far because half the early deaths caused by unclean air are the result of toxins that blew across state borders, according to new research, creating a co-ordination problem of the sort the world is generally bad at solving.

The cost of air pollution in human lives and damaged health is as eye-watering as living downwind of a power station. An estimated 3 million to 4.5 million people die each year as a result. On an economic basis alone, clean air legislation pays for itself many times over. Yet so much damage is tolerated because those who benefit the most are usually not the ones with a say in the matter.

The most obvious example is that children, who can't vote, are more affected by pollutants, particularly lead, in the air than adults, but MIT's Professor Steven Barrett has found another. Barrett tracked the major sources of pollution in America, and where the poisonous gasses and particulates do their damage, finding they are often far apart. In 2005 more than half the air pollution deaths in America had out-of-state causes, falling to 41 percent by 2018.

The worst long-range offender is sulfur dioxide released high into the atmosphere by coal-burning power stations, Barrett reports in Nature. In 2005 three-quarters of the reduced life expectancy was in a different state from the plant itself, leaving the representatives of the victims with little opportunity to force change. Until recently they couldn't have even known where the bad air was coming from.

A combination of coal's increasingly uneconomic status and Obama-era federal restrictions led to a 30 percent decrease air-pollution related deaths by 2018, Barrett finds. Encouraging as that is, it still means 66,000 early deaths that year. Some 4,000 New Yorkers are killed in 2011 alone by other states' pollution – more than died in the 9/11 terrorist strikes.

The whole thing is a smaller-scale version of the global problem where nations use the wind to dump their pollution on someone else, giving them little incentive to clean up.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#175 pnwguy

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 12:33 AM

View PostLFC, on 12 February 2020 - 05:46 PM, said:

The whole thing is a smaller-scale version of the global problem where nations use the wind to dump their pollution on someone else, giving them little incentive to clean up.
I recall reading where the majority of mercury ingestion here in the Pacific NW comes from coal plants in China, not from ocean fish consumption
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"It all makes sense when you remind yourself that the GOP is no longer a political party but turned into an organized crime family"

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#176 LFC

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 12:46 PM

Here's an in-depth look into how Trump's EPA said up was down to give a big, fat gift to the oil industry. I'm really starting to believe that the sum of the corruption of all other administrations in my lifetime is less than the corruption in this one. And the GOP is all in now. Here's the layout. There's more I haven't finished yet.

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On a drizzly day in January 2018, Jeff Alson, an engineer at the Environmental Protection Agency’s motor-vehicles office, gathered with his colleagues to make a video call to Washington, D.C.

They had made the same call dozens of times before. For nearly a decade, the EPA team had worked closely with another group of engineers in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, pronounced nits-uh) to write the federal tailpipe-pollution standards, one of the most consequential climate protections in American history. The two teams had done virtually all the technical research—testing engines in a lab, interviewing scientists and automakers, and overseeing complex economic simulations—underpinning the rules, which have applied to every new car and light truck, including SUVs and vans, sold in the United States since 2012.

Their collaboration was historic. Even as SUVs, crossovers, and pickups have gobbled up the new-car market, the rules have pushed the average fuel economy—the distance a vehicle can travel per gallon of gas—to record highs. They have saved Americans $500 billion at the pump, according to the nonpartisan Consumer Federation of America, and kept hundreds of millions of tons of carbon pollution out of the air. So as the call connected, Alson and the other EPA engineers thought it was time to get back to work. Donald Trump had recently ordered a review of the rules.

Speaking from Washington, James Tamm, the NHTSA fuel-economy chief, greeted the EPA team, then put a spreadsheet on-screen. It showed an analysis of the tailpipe rules’ estimated costs and benefits. Alson had worked on this kind of study so many times that he could recall some of the key numbers “by heart,” he later told me.

Yet as Alson looked closer, he realized that this study was like none he had seen before. For years, both NHTSA and the EPA had found that the tailpipe rules saved lives during car accidents because they reduced the weight—and, with it, the lethality—of the heaviest SUVs. In 2015, an outside panel of experts concurred with them.

But this new study asserted the opposite: The Obama-era rules, it claimed, killed almost 1,000 people a year.

“Oh my God,” Alson said upon seeing the numbers. The other EPA engineers in the room gasped and started to point out other shocking claims on Tamm’s slide. (Their line was muted.) It seemed as if every estimated cost had ballooned, while every estimated benefit had shrunk. Something in the study had gone deeply wrong.

It was the beginning of a fiasco that could soon have global consequences. The Trump administration has since proposed to roll back the tailpipe rules nationwide, a move that, according to one estimate, could add nearly 1 billion tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere. Officials have justified this sweeping change by claiming that the new rules will save hundreds of lives a year. They are so sure of those benefits that they have decided to call the policy the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule—or SAFE, for short.

SNAFU may be a better moniker. To change a federal rule, the executive branch must do its homework and publish an economic study arguing why the update is necessary. But Trump’s official justification for SAFE is honeycombed with errors. The most dramatic is that NHTSA’s model mixed up supply and demand: The agency calculated that as cars got more expensive, millions more people would drive them, and the number of traffic accidents would increase, my reporting shows. This error—later dubbed the “phantom vehicles” problem—accounted for the majority of incorrect costs in the SAFE study that the Trump administration released in 2018. It is what made SAFE look safe.

Once this and other major mistakes are fixed, all of SAFE’s safety benefits vanish, according to a recent peer-reviewed analysis in Science. If SAFE is adopted into law, American traffic deaths could actually increase, carbon pollution would soar, and global warming would speed up.

In other words, SAFE isn’t actually safe—and the Trump administration based its rollback on flawed math.

Extensive interviews with key participants and a review of emails and documents reveal how this happened: The Trump administration kept the government’s top tailpipe-pollution experts from working on the tailpipe-pollution rule. For two years, rival bureaucrats at NHTSA and overworked Trump political appointees stonewalled the EPA team, blocked it from learning of the rollback, and prevented it from seeing analysis of the new rule. When the EPA engineers finally saw the flawed study and identified some of its worst errors, the same Trump officials ignored them.

This may have been a series of legally fatal blunders. The EPA team identified the phantom-vehicles problem early in the process. Within weeks of SAFE’s publication in August 2018, analyses from outside economists and the Honda Motor Company vindicated the EPA team’s assessment. Those groups found that the SAFE study was a turducken of falsehoods: it cited incorrect data and made calculation errors, on top of bungling the basics of supply and demand. Not since 1999—when NASA engineers accidentally confused metric and imperial units when building and navigating the Mars Climate Orbiter, leading to the spacecraft’s eventual destruction—have federal employees messed up a calculation so publicly, and at such expense and scale. And the EPA team saw it coming.

My reporting directly contradicts what EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told members of Congress last year. In a June letter to House Republicans, Wheeler said it was “false” that “EPA professional staff were cut out” of the rollback’s development.

In a statement, an EPA spokesman did not directly deny my reporting. “As we’ve stated multiple times before, career and professional staff within EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation were involved in the development of this proposal and continue to be involved in the final stages as we work with NHTSA to finalize this rule,” said Michael Abboud, the agency spokesman. He added that the old rule was “unworkable” and rushed into law at the end of the Obama administration.

A NHTSA spokesman declined to comment because the proposed regulation is under agency review. He referred me to older statements that said the EPA and NHTSA had reviewed “hundreds of thousands of public comments” and undertaken “extensive scientific and economic analyses” in the course of reworking the SAFE rule. A final version of the rule is expected in the next several weeks. But that new version of the SAFE study recognizes that the benefits of the rollback do not exceed its costs, according to a letter from Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, obtained by The Washington Post.

If Carper’s allegation is true, that could doom the proposal in court. In fact, several legal issues could hinder SAFE. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act “requires” the EPA to regulate carbon pollution “from new motor vehicles.” But my reporting has found that NHTSA employees—and not EPA staff—actually wrote the first version of the rollback, raising questions about whether the rule is legally valid.

Either way, the SAFE rollback has already caused chaos. Major automakers—some of which once begged Trump to weaken the rules—now despise SAFE, according to reporting in The Wall Street Journal. When Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda began negotiating a compromise version of the standard with California last year, the Trump administration smacked them with an antitrust investigation. (It dropped the probe last week.) A fifth automaker, Mercedes-Benz, also considered joining the truce with California, The New York Times reported over the summer. (Mercedes did not respond to a request for comment.)

That chaos might have comforted Alson, who retired in 2018, and the other EPA engineers two years ago, as they sat slack-jawed in their conference room in Ann Arbor. Soon after unveiling the analysis, Tamm asked if anyone had questions. No one spoke. The meeting, originally scheduled to last an hour, adjourned after 30 minutes.

“We couldn’t even bring ourselves to try to engage,” Alson told me. “We knew they had cooked the books so bad that there wasn’t any reason to talk about it.”

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#177 golden_valley

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 03:01 PM

View PostLFC, on 16 February 2020 - 12:46 PM, said:

Here's an in-depth look into how Trump's EPA said up was down to give a big, fat gift to the oil industry. I'm really starting to believe that the sum of the corruption of all other administrations in my lifetime is less than the corruption in this one. And the GOP is all in now. Here's the layout. There's more I haven't finished yet.

It's this sort of thing that will take years and years to discover and unwind. It's far more a crisis situation than whether Trump pardons Stone or pursues his "enemies" because this affects all of the US.





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