Where Meanderthals kept track of anti-conservation, anti-environment tactics by the Trump Administration



Trump administration rejects tougher standards on soot, a deadly air pollutant

December 7, 2020 The Trump administration rejected setting tougher standards on soot, the nation’s most widespread deadly air pollutant, saying the existing regulations remain sufficient even as some public health experts and environmental justice communities had pleaded for stricter limits. The agency locked in current thresholds for fine particle pollution for another five years, despite mounting evidence linking air pollution with illness and death. The current national standards limit annual concentrations of soot to 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Estimates say that reducing the limit to 9 could save roughly 12,200 lives a year. [cite]

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Trump officials move to relax rules on killing birds

November 27, 2020 The administration, which is racing to lock in a series of regulatory changes before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, can now publish a final rule modifying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s interpretation of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. For three years, officials at the Interior Department have sought to shield energy companies, construction firms, and land developers from prosecution if their operations ‘incidentally” kill birds, weakening protections under the law. [cite]


Trump officials rush to mine desert haven native tribes consider holy

November 23, 2020 A dozen south-western Native American tribes have strong cultural ties to Oak Flat, Arizona. But the Trump administration, in its waning days, has embarked on a rushed effort to transfer ownership of the area to a mining company with ties to the destruction of an Aboriginal site in Australia. Last month tribes discovered that the date for the completion of a crucial environmental review process has suddenly been moved forward by a full year, to December 2020, even as the tribes are struggling with a Covid outbreak that has stifled their ability to respond. [cite]


Trump Threatens Great American Outdoors Act

November 5, 2020 With a key list of Land and Water Conservation Fund projects missing, political subterfuge threatens the bipartisan legislative achievement. The Department of the Interior failed to meet the deadline to submit a list of projects it wants to fund in fiscal year 2021 with money earmarked by the Great American Outdoors Act. Not only does the missed proposal threaten the success of a huge variety of conservation projects, but advocacy groups warn it could be an attempt by the Trump administration to undermine the act’s goals. [cite]


U.S. Officially Leaving Paris Climate Agreement

November 4, 2020 The United States has formally left the Paris Agreement. Of the nearly 200 nations that signed the agreement, the U.S. is the only one to walk away from its promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Trump originally announced his intention to withdraw from the landmark agreement in 2017 and formally notified the United Nations last year. A mandatory yearlong waiting period ended November 4, 2020, a coincidence that highlights the Trump administration’s commitment to derailing efforts that address climate change. [cite]


Gray Wolf Removed From Endangered Species List, Spurring Legal Challenges

October 29, 2020 Gray wolves in the lower 48 states were removed from Endangered Species Act protections, a move that was harshly criticized and drew promises of legal challenges. Conservation groups criticized the decision, saying the animal is far from having returned to its historic range and still needs protections. Interior officials said the Fish and Wildlife Service made the delisting decision “solely on the best scientific and commercial data available.” [cite]


Top NOAA Scientist Pushed Out After Asking Trump Appointees to Acknowledge Agency Scientific Integrity Policy

October 27, 2020 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration demoted its top scientist by email after he asked political appointees at the agency to commit to its scientific ethics policy. The move threatens to stifle a major source of objective United States government information about climate change. President Donald Trump’s appointees at NOAA have clashed with scientists over facts about climate change and imposed stricter controls on agency communications. [cite]


USFWS Denial Of Endangered Species Act Protection For Wolverines Prompts Lawsuit

October 8, 2020 A decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deny wolverines protection under the Endangered Species Act prompted a coalition of groups to announce plans to sue the agency of that decision. Recent scientific information makes clear that wolverines face threats from destruction of their snowy habitat due to climate change. The groups represented maintain there are fewer than 300 wolverines left in the contiguous United States, and added that listing wolverines as threatened or endangered would trigger new, badly needed conservation efforts. [cite]


EPA Decision Reverses Tribal Sovereignty That Was Recognized in Landmark Supreme Court Ruling

October 5, 2020 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted the state of Oklahoma regulatory control over environmental issues on nearly all tribal lands there. This strips from 38 tribes in Oklahoma their sovereignty over environmental issues. It also establishes a legal and administrative pathway to potential environmental abuses on tribal land, including dumping hazardous chemicals like carcinogenic PCBs and petroleum spills, with no legal recourse by the tribes. The EPA has now granted the State of Oklahoma the same authority it had before McGirt vs. Oklahoma on environmental issues, especially on petroleum. It can do this because federal legislation can nullify Supreme Court rulings. [cite]


Trump official holds up polar bear study that could affect oil drilling in Alaska

September 30, 2020 A top Trump official at the Interior Department has delayed the release of a study that shows how oil and gas drilling in Alaska could encroach upon the territory of polar bears, which are already struggling for survival as a warming planet melts their habitat. U.S. Geological Survey Director James Reilly has refused to make public the study by his own scientists of the number of female polar bears that den and give birth on land near the southern Beaufort Sea. [cite]


Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument closing all access to the southern portion of the park leading to Quitobaquito Springs

September 28, 2020 This closure is in response to considerable public safety concerns associated with border wall construction activities. The Tohono O’odham Nation says the National Park Service is now denying tribal members (& the public) access to Quitobaquito. The O’odham have held ceremonies at this sacred spring for millennia. They could now face arrest for continuing this tradition. [cite]


Trump Administration Moves To Allow Logging In Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

September 25, 2020 The Trump administration has cleared the way to open the country’s largest national forest to logging. The forest is currently protected by the Roadless Rule which has long prohibited development on 9.37 million acres of roadless areas, comprising about 55% of the Tongass. In the final EIS, the U.S. Forest Service recommends removing nearly the entire Tongass from roadless designation in order to enable logging. [cite]


National Park Service Moves To Preserve Livestock Industry At Point Reyes

September 18, 2020 In a decision that could lead to litigation, the National Park Service is moving to preserve the ranching industry at Point Reyes National Seashore in California for two more decades. While the hefty decision document also calls for maintaining the seashore’s free-ranging Tule elk herds, it also allows for the killing of elk near livestock operations. Shortly after the final environmental impact statement was released, the Center for Biological Diversity promised that “we’re going to do everything we can to stop it.” [cite]


Change would handcuff Forest Service in pausing harmful projects

September 1, 2020 Under a proposal, the U.S. Forest Service would promote oil and gas drilling in national forests and grasslands, “decreas[ing] the burden on industry” by abdicating its long-standing responsibility to conserve habitat and outdoor recreation areas. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) typically work together in managing oil and gas leases on national forests, with the Forest Service enjoying ultimate veto power if the likely environmental impacts of a given project are too high. The rule would cede Forest Service authority and, following the example of the fossil fuel-focused BLM, let drilling move forward quickly with little public input or consideration of pollution or other effects. [cite]


Trump Administration Weakens Water Pollution Controls for Coal Plants

August 31, 2020 The Trump Administration Environmental Protection Agency weakened the regulations that limit toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants, the largest industrial source of toxic water pollution in the U.S. The revised regulation weakens pollution limits, extends compliance deadlines, and exempts many coal-fired power plants, allowing them to discharge high amounts of mercury, selenium and other toxic chemicals. [cite]


Trump finalizes drilling plan for iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

August 17, 2020 The Trump administration finalized plans to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, a move that will auction off oil and gas rights in the heart of one of the nation’s most iconic wild places. The move will allow leasing on the 1.6 million-acre coastal plain, the center of a nearly pristine wilderness home to migrating caribou and waterfowl as well as polar bears and foxes who live there year round. It marks a major step towards reviving fossil fuel development in an area that has been untouched for three decades. [cite]


Methane rollback all over but the lawsuits

August 13, 2020 After much brouhaha, the EPA officially released its final policy amendments and technical amendments to its rules for newly built oil and gas production infrastructure. The changes will lift methane emissions rules for new oil and gas wells and remove emissions regulations on the transmission and storage facilities. The technical amendments decrease the frequency of leak detection requirements from quarterly to twice-yearly and allow companies to meet “certain states’ requirements” rather than the federal rules. [cite]


A wildlife refuge under siege at the border

August 11, 2020 During the fall of 2019, the Department of Homeland Security began pumping large amounts of water from a southern Arizona aquifer to mix concrete for the Trump administration’s border wall. The aquifer is an essential water source for the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, so when the pumping escalated, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials watched helplessly as the water levels at several ponds — the main habitat for the endangered fish at this Sonoran Desert refuge — dropped “precipitously.” [cite]


Trump Administration Proposes Yet Another Rollback to the Endangered Species Act

July 31, 2020 Despite devastating reports of catastrophic species loss, the Trump administration proposed a second round of rollbacks to regulations that would continue to undermine the Endangered Species Act—America’s most effective law for saving imperiled wildlife from extinction. Specifically, the new regulation proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service would redefine the definition of “habitat,” making it harder to restore degraded areas in order to recover species. [cite]


Trump administration says massive Alaska gold mine won’t cause major environmental harm, reversing Obama

July 24, 2020 Trump officials concluded that a proposed gold and copper mine in Alaska — which would be North America’s largest — would not pose serious environmental risks, a sharp reversal from a finding by the Obama administration that it would permanently harm the region’s prized sockeye salmon. The official about-face regarding the bitterly contested project epitomizes the whiplash that has come to define environmental policy under President Trump, who has methodically dismantled many of his predecessor’s actions on climate change, conservation and pollution. [cite]


Trump to weaken environmental law to speed up permits for pipelines and other infrastructure

July 15, 2020 Trump finalized a rollback to the country’s landmark environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, by speeding up approval for federal projects like pipelines, highways and power plants. The move is the latest effort from the Trump administration to roll back a slew of environmental regulations in place to combat accelerating climate change and protect natural habitats from drilling and development. [cite]


Trump clears way for toxic mine in Boundary Waters watershed

June 29, 2020 The Trump administration initiated the approval of a toxic copper mine in the headwaters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, the most visited wilderness area in the U.S. The Bureau of Land Management issued a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement on a proposed mine plan of operations by the Chilean-owned mining company, Twin Metals Minnesota. Conservation groups have opposed this mining proposal for years and continue to challenge the mine in court and before the federal agencies charged with stewarding the Boundary Waters. [cite]


Trump administration wants to open up 82 percent of Alaska reserve for drilling

June 25, 2020 The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) unveiled its plan for oil and gas leasing at the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. The plan would allow for 18.7 million acres of the approximately 23 million acre area to be leased to oil and gas companies. It would open to drilling all of the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, which is currently protected and is home to a variety of animals like caribou and migratory birds. An environmental impact assessment said it would result in a more than 90% increase of greenhouse gas emissions from the status quo over a 20-year period. [cite]


U.S. unveils vision for more development in national forests

June 12, 2020 Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled what he called a “blueprint” for enabling energy extraction, mining, grazing and logging in federal forests by speeding up environmental reviews and permitting. In a memorandum to U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, Perdue said more was needed to relieve burdensome regulations on industries and make federal forests and grasslands more productive. The vision laid out in the letter is in line with the Trump administration’s broad effort to allow more energy extraction and infrastructure development on federal lands and waters. [cite]


In apparent rejection of federal court, EPA allows continued dicamba use

June 8, 2020 The Trump administration announced that farmers will be able to continue to spray dicamba through July 31, an apparent rejection of a federal court ruling issued last week that immediately banned the herbicide’s use over-the-top of soybean and cotton crops. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in response to a lawsuit filed by conservation groups, vacated the federal registration of certain versions of the weedkiller dicamba. The court ruled the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not have enough evidence to support its decision and underestimated and ignored many risks that the weed killer posed on other farmers and natural areas. Because of that, the court ruled the herbicide should be banned immediately. [cite]


Scorning Extinction Crisis, Trump To Open East Coast Marine Monument To Commercial Fishing

June 5, 2020 During a visit to Maine, Trump opened a sweeping protected site off the East Coast to commercial fishing ― a move that goes against the very purpose of designating a marine monument. Established by the Obama administration in 2016, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument encompasses more than 4,900 square miles off the East Coast and is home to ancient seafloor canyons and seamounts, endangered whales, deep ocean corals and numerous migratory fish species. Rolling back the restrictions on that area would eliminate nearly 85% of ocean protections along the United States outside the remote western Pacific. [cite]


Trump to sign order to waive environmental reviews for key projects

June 4, 2020 Trump is signing an executive order instructing agencies to waive long-standing environmental laws to speed up federal approval for new mines, highways, pipelines and other projects given the current “economic emergency.” Declaring an economic emergency allows the president to invoke a section of federal law “where emergency circumstances make it necessary to take an action with significant environmental impact without” observing normal requirements imposed by laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. These laws require agencies to solicit public input on proposed projects and analyze in detail how federal decisions could harm the environment. [cite]


EPA limits states and tribes’ ability to protest pipelines and other energy projects

June 1, 2020 The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule curtailing the rights of states, tribes and the public to object to federal permits for energy projects and other activities that could pollute waterways across the country. The move, part of the Trump administration’s push to weaken environmental rules it sees as standing in the way of new development, upends how the United States applied a section of the Clean Water Act for nearly a half century. The energy industry hailed the change as a way to speed up pipelines and other projects, while environmentalists warned it could undercut state and tribal efforts to safeguard rivers and drinking water. [cite]


Interior Targets Alaska Park Bear Cubs and Wolf Pups with Final Hunting Plan

May 20, 2020 Bears and wolves on Alaska national parklands will be targeted by egregious sport hunting practices, based on a final rule signed by Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The finalized rule reverses wildlife management regulations implemented for Alaska parks in 2015 after an extensive, multi-year public engagement process. Under the final rule, national preserve lands managed by the National Park Service will allow: use of bait to draw in and kill brown bears; use of artificial light to enter dens to kill black bears, including females and their cubs; and trapping and killing wolves and their pups during denning season. [cite]


EPA staff warned that mileage rollbacks had flaws. Trump officials ignored them.

May 19, 2020 In its rush to roll back the most significant climate policy enacted by Barack Obama — mileage standards designed to reduce pollution from cars — the Trump administration ignored warnings that its new rule has serious flaws. The behind-the-scenes-skirmish in late March between career employees and Trump appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency highlights the extent to which Trump officials are racing to reverse environmental policies by the end of the president’s first term. Details about objections from EPA staff could create legal problems for the administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule. [cite]


EPA decides against limits on drinking water pollutant linked to health risks, especially in children

May 14, 2020 The Environmental Protection Agency has decided not to limit perchlorate, a chemical that has long been detected in the drinking water of many Americans and linked to potential brain damage in fetuses and newborns and thyroid problems in adults. The move, which comes despite the fact that the EPA faces a court order to establish a national standard for the chemical compound by the end of June, marks the latest shift in a long-running fight over whether to curb the chemical used in rocket fuel. [cite]


Trump dismantles environmental protections under cover of coronavirus

May 11, 2020 The Trump administration is diligently weakening US environment protections even amid a global pandemic, continuing its rollback as the November election approaches. During the Covid-19 lockdown, US federal agencies have eased fuel-efficiency standards for new cars; frozen rules for soot air pollution; proposed to drop review requirements for liquefied natural gas terminals; continued to lease public property to oil and gas companies; sought to speed up permitting for offshore fish farms; and advanced a proposal on mercury pollution from power plants that could make it easier for the government to conclude regulations are too costly to justify their benefits. [cite]


Trump is using a pandemic to weaken environmental law. First victim: The Grand Canyon

May 7, 2020 The steps recommended in a new report by the Nuclear Fuel Working Group, an industry-stacked panel the president created through an executive order in July 2019, look a lot like pre-determined conclusions. One of the most alarming should worry every American: excluding uranium mines from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which gives Americans the chance to review and comment on major proposals that impact them. The report, if it’s implemented, paves the way for dangerous mining of the sort that even industry cheerleaders don’t suggest in public. [cite]


EPA weakens regulations on mercury pollution

April 16, 2020 The Environmental Protection Agency announced it has created a new method of calculating the costs and benefits of controlling the release of toxic metals like mercury by oil and coal-fired power plants, weakening the existing regulation. Environmental organizations say this will likely increase air pollution. Mercury is linked to brain damage in children. [cite]


As Coronavirus Rages, Trump Disregards Advice to Tighten Clean Air Rules

April 14, 2020 Disregarding an emerging scientific link between dirty air and Covid-19 death rates, the Trump administration declined to tighten a regulation on industrial soot emissions that came up for review ahead of the coronavirus pandemic. Andrew Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said his agency will not impose stricter controls on the tiny, lung-damaging industrial particles, known as PM 2.5. The decision brought praise from Republican lawmakers and the nation’s oil companies. [cite]


Forest Service favors reducing public input to fast-track projects

April 2, 2020 The U.S. Forest Service is creating more ways to approve logging projects without providing environmental analysis or public oversight. A recent analysis shows the Forest Service is bypassing much of the public process in order to push through an increasing number of large forest projects throughout the West. “The acres are just staggering. We’re seeing millions of acres excluded from sufficient analysis,” said WildEarth Guardians spokesman Adam Rissien. For 1st Q, 2020, 58 national forests–that’s three-quarters of the forests in the West–proposed 175 projects that would affect around 4 million acres. All with a minimum of public input. [cite]


Trump weakens fuel economy standards, rolling back key U.S. effort against climate change

March 31, 2020 The Trump administration weakened one of the nation’s most aggressive efforts to combat climate change, releasing new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks that handed a victory to the oil and gas industry. The new rule, from the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department, will almost immediately be plunged into litigation as environmental groups and states with stricter standards plan to challenge it. If the administration’s policy survives those fights, it would spare automakers from having to meet ambitious gas mileage and emissions requirements put in place in 2012 under President Obama. It is among the biggest steps the administration has taken to reverse an existing environmental policy. [cite]


EPA suspends enforcement of environmental laws amid coronavirus

March 26, 2020 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws, telling companies they would not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak. The temporary policy, for which the EPA has set no end date, would allow any number of industries to skirt environmental laws, with the agency saying it will not “seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations.” [cite]


Feds reject removal of 4 Snake River dams in key report

February 28, 2020 Four dams on the lower Snake River in Eastern Washington are part of a vast and complex hydroelectric power system operated by the federal government in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. A long-awaited federal report rejected the idea of removing them in a last-ditch effort to save more than a dozen species of threatened or endangered salmon, saying such a dramatic approach would destabilize the power grid, increase overall greenhouse emissions and more than double the risk of regional power outages. [cite]


Feds say resuming coal sales from public lands has little impact on environment

February 26, 2020 The Trump administration said a resumption of coal sales from public lands that had been blocked under former President Barack Obama will result in a negligible increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Critics accused the administration of producing a flawed analysis of the federal coal program that ignores its broader impacts. A federal judge last year had faulted the administration for failing to consider potential damage to the environment when former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in 2017 lifted a moratorium on coal sales imposed by his predecessor. [cite]


It’s illegal to destroy saguaro cacti. So why are they being removed for Trump’s border wall?

February 20, 2020 In Arizona, cactus rustling — stealing or killing the state’s iconic saguaros — is a felony. It’s illegal to shoot or deface the iconic cactuses or to remove them from parks, where the slow-growing succulents can reach more than 60 feet and live up to 200 years. That hasn’t stopped federal contractors from plowing over saguaros to make room for Trump’s border wall. Saguaros were uprooted this month by crews clearing a dirt road next to new border fencing at Organ Pipe National Monument, about 150 miles southwest of Tucson, near the Lakeville border crossing. [cite]


These southern Utah sites were once off limits to development. Now, Trump will auction the right to drill and mine there.

February 6, 2020 The Trump administration has finalized plans to expand drilling, grazing and other forms of development across a broad area of southern Utah that used to be protected as two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. The decision comes more than two years after Trump dramatically cut the size of both monuments and will likely intensify a legal battle with tribes and conservation groups who have sought to have the protected areas restored. Bears Ears contains tens of thousands of cultural artifacts and rare rock art; in the rock layers of Grand Staircase, scientists have unearthed 75 million-year-old dinosaur fossils. [cite]


Trump administration reducing protections for birds

January 30, 2020 The Trump administration is set to finalize a regulation that will end penalties against oil, gas and construction businesses that “incidentally” cause the deaths of birds as a result of their work. The regulation would reduce protections for birds offered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and only punish companies that kill birds with explicit intent. Businesses would not be held accountable for the deaths of birds caused by oil spills, wind turbines or the use of illegal pesticides, for example. [cite]


Trump rollback could leave waterways vulnerable to pollution

January 23, 2020 The Trump administration ended federal protection for many of the nation’s millions of miles of streams, arroyos and wetlands, a sweeping environmental rollback that could leave the waterways more vulnerable to pollution from development, industry and farms. The policy change, signed by heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, narrows the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the half-century-old Clean Water Act. [cite]


Trump administration to approve Keystone pipeline on land in Montana

January 22, 2020 The Trump administration will approve a right-of-way allowing the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline to be built across U.S. land, pushing the controversial $8 billion project closer to construction, though court challenges still loom. The approval covers about 45 miles of the line’s route across land in Montana controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Opponents worry burning the tar sands oil will make climate change worse, and that it could break and spill into waterways like Montana’s Missouri River. [cite]


Trump Administration Strips Public Participation, Environmental Safeguards from Public Land Grazing Program

January 17, 2020 In an advance notice of rulemaking, the Trump Administration announced plans to further deregulate the public lands livestock industry by proposing a suite of changes to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) grazing regulations. Public lands grazing is responsible for destruction of wildlife habitat, streams and riparian areas, the increase in invasive weeds across the West, and the subsequent increase in wildfire frequency and severity. [cite]


Trump to Veto Bill Intended to Keep Forever Chemicals out of Groundwater

January 7, 2020 The White House announced that it plans to veto the PFAS Action Act of 2019, which aims to keep harmful forever chemicals out of groundwater. ‘Forever’ chemicals, which are often referred to as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals), are a class of heat and water-resistant chemicals used in a variety of industrial products, flame retardants and nonstick products, such as raincoats, cookware and packaging and have leeched into water supplies in almost every state in the country. They are known carcinogens and do not degrade in the environment nor in the human body. Additionally, the U.S. EPA said it would decide whether or not to regulate PFAS by the end of 2019, but it missed its own self-imposed deadline. [cite]


White House update of key environmental law would exclude climate change

January 3, 2020 The Trump administration will instruct federal agencies to no longer take climate change into account when measuring the impact of major infrastructure projects, a sweeping overhaul of one of the nation’s most consequential environmental laws. The proposed changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act are aimed at speeding approvals for pipelines, oil and gas leases, highway construction and other kinds of development, as Trump accelerates oil, gas and coal extraction across the country. Under NEPA, agencies are required to analyze the extent to which proposed federal actions affect everything from endangered species to water quality to greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. [cite]


The Trump administration just overturned a ban on old-fashioned lightbulbs

December 20, 2019 The Energy Department made a final determination that it would not impose stricter energy efficiency standards for “general service” lightbulbs set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020 on the grounds that they “are not economically justified.” The move affects roughly 3 billion — nearly half — of the bulbs in sockets in U.S. homes. Consumer groups estimate that the reversal of tighter standards, which stem from a bipartisan 2007 energy law, would boost energy costs by $14 billion a year and will generate 38 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, an amount equal to the output of 30 large power plants. [cite]


Controversial mining company coached Alaska’s governor to lobby White House

December 20, 2019 A mining company secretly collaborated with the governor of Alaska to lobby the Trump administration to move forward with a mining project that Environmental Protection Agency scientists warned could devastate the world’s most valuable wild salmon habitat. Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office was given detailed talking points, ghostwritten letters and advice on lobbying strategies by Pebble Limited Partnership. The effort culminated in President Trump promising favorable action on the mine. [cite]


Trump admin shuts down pollution-tracking map

December 16, 2019 TOXMAP, an interactive map hosted by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and accessible to the public, allowed users to track pollution-producing factories and other environmental concerns such as superfund cleanup sites. However, all links to the application on the NLM’s website are now deprecated following an announcement from the agency notifying users that the site would be “retired,” a blow to researchers. [cite]


Agencies bungled air-pollution response during Hurricane Harvey

December 16, 2019 A report from the EPA’s Office of Inspector General confirms red flags raised by environmental and community groups after Harvey. The report found that the EPA and TCEQ did not collect data when emissions of numerous carcinogenic chemicals were at their peak. And when they did begin conducting air monitoring, the agencies collected data that could not be used to draw meaningful conclusions about the risks to public health. [cite]


Trump administration reauthorizes horrific cyanide bombs

December 5, 2019 The Trump administration will reauthorize the use of sodium cyanide bombs, also known as “M-44s.” The U.S. EPA approved the devices, despite the fact that they indiscriminately kill thousands of animals every year and have also injured people. The EPA took some minimal action to protect the public from the bombs, but its restrictions are nearly impossible to enforce and are commonly ignored. Nor will they prevent the killing of wildlife that are not the bombs’ intended targets. Wildlife Services, the federal wildlife-killing agency, deploys cyanide bombs. By its own count, the bombs killed 6,579 animals (mostly coyotes and foxes) last year. [cite]


Park rangers will patrol Mexican border, arrest migrants

November 23, 2019 The Trump administration has ordered rangers from national parks around the country to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration and drug traffickers. The directive has seen park rangers from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Zion National Park in Utah, among others, temporarily relocate to Arizona and Texas to work with Border Patrol agents. And park officials say they’ve already been told they should continue sending park rangers to the border through September 2020. [cite]


Risking food safety, USDA plans to let slaughterhouses self-police

November 9, 2019 A new rule would reduce the number of government food safety inspectors in pork plants by 40 percent and remove most of the remaining inspectors from production lines. In their place, a smaller number of company employees — who are not required to receive any training — would conduct the “sorting” tasks that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) previously referred to as “inspection.” The rule would also allow companies to design their own microbiological testing programs to measure food safety rather than requiring companies to meet the same standard. [cite]


EPA to scale back federal rules restricting waste from coal-fired power plants

November 4, 2019 The Environmental Protection Agency plans to relax rules that govern how power plants store waste from burning coal and release water containing toxic metals into nearby waterways, according to agency officials. The proposals, which scale back two rules adopted in 2015, affect the disposal of fine powder and sludge known as “coal ash” as well as contaminated water that power plants produce while burning coal. Both forms of waste can contain mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals that pose risks to human health and the environment. [cite]


The Destruction Caused by the Border Wall Is Worse Than You Think

October 21, 2019 A bulldozer pushes saguaros out of the way, scraping bare the Sonoran Desert landscape. And it’s not just the plants—some older than the 82-year-old monument itself—that are being sacrificed to allow for the border wall. In order to mix cement to build the structure, DHS is also planning to pump millions of gallons of water from underground aquifers; one area of particular concern is the Quitobaquito Springs in Organ Pipe, which is home to the endangered Sonoyta mud turtle and the Quitobaquito pupfish, a species found in only one other place in the world. [cite]


Trump EPA proposes overhaul of lead in drinking water rule

October 10, 2019 The Trump administration proposed retooling a 1991 rule on lead and copper contamination in drinking water, but critics said the change slows by 20 years the timeline for removing aging lead service lines that could expose children to a toxin known to harm developing brains. Critics say the rule slows down the removal of service lines where levels exceed 15 parts per billion to 33 years from the 13 years in the original rule. Health advocates estimate that as many as 6 million or more lead water lines remain underground in U.S. cities and towns. [cite]


Feds to open Utah’s national parks to ATVs

October 1, 2019 The roar of ATVs could be coming to a Utah national park backcountry road near you under a major policy shift initiated by the National Park Service without public input. Across the country, off-road vehicles like ATVs and UTVs are generally barred from national parks. For Utah’s famed parks, however, that all changes starting Nov. 1, 2019. The move was ordered by the the National Park Service’s acting regional director, who directed a memo to Utah park superintendents instructing them to align their regulations with Utah law. [cite]


Interior Department transferring federal land to Army for border wall construction

September 18, 2019 The Trump administration plans to transfer federal land to military control in order to continue construction of the wall along the southern border, officials from the Interior Department announced. The Department of the Interior, which controls public land around the country, announced that 560 acres of federal land will be transferred to the U.S. Army for the construction of 70 miles of border wall. The transfer of land includes more than 300 acres of land in Yuma County, Arizona, including along the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, as well as 110 acres of land in the El Paso, Texas, area and 43 acres in San Diego County in California, and more. [cite]


Trump administration to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards

September 18, 2019 The Trump administration plans to revoke California’s long-standing right to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks, the latest step in a broad campaign to undermine Obama-era policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. The move threatens to set in motion a massive legal battle between California and the federal government, plunge automakers into a prolonged period of uncertainty, and create turmoil in the nation’s auto market. [cite]


Trump administration opens huge reserve in Alaska to drilling

September 12, 2019 The Trump administration said it would seek to open up the entire coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, picking the most aggressive development option for an area long closed to drilling. The administration said its preferred plan would call for the construction of as many as four places for airstrips and well pads, 175 miles of roads, vertical supports for pipelines, a seawater treatment plant and a barge landing and storage site. [cite]


Trump Administration Grants First Trophy Import Permit for Tanzanian Lion

September 12, 2019 The Trump administration has authorized a U.S. hunter to import a lion trophy from Tanzania — the first allowed from that country since lions were given protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in January 2016. The decision likely signals that the Fish and Wildlife Service is approving, or will approve, lion and other wildlife trophy imports from Tanzania, despite that nation’s troubling history of mismanaging populations of lions, elephants and other imperiled animals. [cite]


Trump Administration finalizes repeal of 2015 water rule

September 12, 2019 The Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986. Critics say the rollback will speed the draining of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking water supply. [cite]


Lands Near Hovenweep National Monument Sold to Oil and Gas Bidders

September 11, 2019 In its latest step towards ‘energy dominance’ at the sacrifice of national parks and other public lands, the Trump Administration advanced more than 30,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Southeast Utah. The area sold for future development is important to Utah’s unique history and rich cultural heritage and is connected to a vast cultural landscape significant to many Native American tribes throughout the region. [cite]


Trump rolls back regulations on energy-saving light bulbs in a move that could exacerbate climate change

September 4, 2019 The Trump administration announced that it will roll back requirements for more energy efficient light bulbs, a set of rules that could lead to increased green house gas emissions that accelerate global warming. The filing from the Energy Department would prevent new efficiency requirements from implementation on Jan. 1, 2020 under a previous law passed during President George W. Bush’s administration. That law phased out inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs. [cite]


Trump administration to roll back regulation on methane, a major climate change contributor

August 29, 2019 The Trump administration announced plans to weaken regulation on climate-changing methane emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule would lessen restrictions on oil and gas sites to monitor and repair methane leaks from pipelines and storage facilities. The rule would be the latest move by the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era emission regulations on major oil and gas industries, which are the main source of methane emissions in the U.S. [cite]


Trump moves to allow logging in the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest

August 27, 2019 President Donald Trump is taking aim at one of the largest expanses of temperate rainforest in Alaska. The president instructed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to allow logging in the 16.7 million acre Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, the nation’s largest national forest. Together with British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest in Canada, the Tongass encompasses the largest intact temperate rainforest on Earth. The move would undo logging restrictions that have been in place for nearly 20 years. [cite]


US Navy ends Obama’s climate change task force as Trump rolls back environmental initiatives

August 27, 2019 The US Navy quietly shuttered a task force created under former President Barack Obama to prepare the military branch for the impact of global warming, reportedly saying the team was “no longer needed”. Its ending reflects a trend under Donald Trump in which federal agencies have shuttered operations designed to combat climate change nationwide and around the world. [cite]


U.S. government issues final Utah monument plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante

August 23, 2019 The Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southwestern Utah codifies that the lands cut out of the monument will be open to mineral extraction such as oil, gas and coal, and the agency chose an option that increases lands open to cattle grazing and could raise the potential for “adverse effects” on lands and resources in the monument. [cite]


EPA Guidance Encourages States to Ignore Air Rules Protecting National Parks

August 20, 2019 The Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Rule is a time-tested, effective program that requires federal and state agencies as well as stakeholders to work together to restore clear skies at national parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains, protecting millions of visitors and surrounding communities from air pollution. The Obama administration proposed guidance to help states more effectively meet their obligations under the Regional Haze Rule to develop plans to improve air quality in national parks and wilderness areas. But this guidance from the Trump administration is an abrupt, near total departure from the original and creates uncertainty for states, industry and the public. [cite]


Trump Administration Refuses to Protect Iconic Joshua Trees

August 15, 2019 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a notice indicating it will not protect the Joshua tree, an icon of the Southern California desert, under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The finding comes, ironically, on the heels of a study conducted by UC Riverside predicting a dire future for Joshua trees. While Joshua trees have existed for over 2.5 million years, climate change threatens to decimate the population of Joshua trees’ in their namesake park without intervention. [cite]


Trump Administration Weakens Protections for Endangered Species

August 12, 2019 The Trump administration announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction. The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations. [cite]


Trump administration reauthorizes use of “cyanide bombs” to kill wild animals

August 8, 2019 The Environmental Protection Agency has recently reauthorized the use of controversial chemical traps to kill coyotes, dogs, foxes and other wild animals across the U.S. These “cyanide bombs” are meant to protect livestock although some environmental groups are calling for a nationwide ban and saying they are inhumane. More than 99.9 percent of public comments urged the EPA to ban M-44s. [cite] Update: The EPA has reversed its decision after being blasted by environmental groups.


Rep. Cheney Accuses Tribes of “Destroying Our Western Way of Life”

July 31, 2019 On a momentous day for Tribal Nations, Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chairwoman, stated that the successful litigation by tribes and environmentalists to return the grizzly bear in Greater Yellowstone to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) “was not based on science or facts” but motivated by plaintiffs “intent on destroying our Western way of life.” Removing protections from the bear, revered as sacred to a multitude of tribes, would have left the grizzly vulnerable to high-dollar trophy hunts and lifted oil and mining leasing restrictions on some 34,375 square miles. [cite]


EPA will not ban use of controversial pesticide linked to children’s health problems

July 18, 2019 The Environment Protection Agency rejected a petition by environmental and public health groups to ban a widely used pesticide that has been linked to neurological damage in children, despite the fact that a federal court said last year there was “no justification” for rejecting the ban. The Obama administration proposed in 2015 to revoke all uses of chlorpyrifos, which is used on a wide array of crops, citing concerns about low birth weight and reduced IQ among children exposed to the pesticide. [cite]


NRC eyes reducing inspections of nuclear reactors

July 17, 2019 Fewer mock commando raids to test nuclear power plants’ defenses against terrorist attacks. Fewer, smaller government inspections for plant safety issues. Less notice to the public and to state governors when problems arise. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials have reportedly recommended the agency cut back on inspections of U.S. reactors as a cost-cutting measure. [cite]


EPA restores broad use of pesticide opposed by beekeepers

July 12, 2019 The Environmental Protection Agency will allow farmers to resume broad use of a pesticide over objections from beekeepers, citing private chemical industry studies that the agency says show the product does only lower-level harm to bees and wildlife. The EPA announcement makes sulfoxaflor the latest bug and weed-killer allowed by the Trump administration despite lawsuits alleging environmental or human harm. [cite]


Honeybees hit by Trump budget cuts

July 8, 2019 The US Department of Agriculture has suspended data collection for its annual Honey Bee Colonies report, citing cost cuts – a move that robs researchers and the honeybee industry of a critical tool for understanding honeybee population declines, and comes as the USDA is curtailing other research programs. It’s also another step toward undoing President Barack Obama’s government-wide focus on protecting pollinators, including bees and butterflies, whose populations have plummeted in recent years. [cite]


Trump EPA finalizes rollback of key Obama climate rule that targeted coal plants

June 19, 2019 The Trump administration finalized its biggest climate policy rollback, requiring the U.S. power sector to cut its 2030 carbon emissions 35 percent over 2005 levels — less than half of what experts calculate is needed to avert catastrophic warming of the planet. The Affordable Clean Energy rule, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, demands much smaller carbon dioxide reductions than the industry is already on track to achieve, even without any federal regulation. [cite]


Major Rollback of Regulations for National Forests Proposed

June 12, 2019 The Trump Administration announced plans to weaken National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations that apply to national forest management across the country. The proposed regulatory changes would allow large commercial logging and other projects in national forests to move forward with limited environmental analysis and public input. The administration’s proposed rule, published in the Federal Register, would establish several new loopholes that the Forest Service will be able to use to fast-track potentially large and impactful projects. [cite]


Alarm as Trump Energy Dept Redefines ‘High-Level’ Nuclear Waste to ‘Low-Level’ in Order to Save Disposal Costs

June 6, 2019 The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to observe a new interpretation of which nuclear waste qualifies as “high-level waste,” which must be disposed of deep underground to avoid contaminating the surrounding environment. Under the new standards, radioactive materials at three nuclear sites will be classified as low-risk, enabling officials to dispose of the waste in shallow pits. “If you’ve got a problem with radioactive waste, you could clean it up, a costly and onerous process, or you could just change the definition of it. Guess which one the Trump administration has decided to do?” [cite]


The Trump Administration Is Cooking Stats to Keep the Sick Sick and the Poor Poor

May 28, 2019 Last August, the Trump administration analyzed the cost of replacing the 2015 Clean Power Plan with a new plan that lightens restrictions on the coal industry. The administration found that doing so would increase fine particulate matter in the air — which causes respiratory issues and other health problems — and that the increase could result in up to 1,400 deaths per year by 2030. The new plan will not include this death estimate, as the administration is using a “new analytical model” based on the false idea that there are no public health benefits to making the air any cleaner than what federal law requires. [cite]


Agriculture Department ends long-standing Forest Service job training program for at-risk youth

May 24, 2019 Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has decided to end a U.S. Forest Service work program that trains at-risk youth to be first responders to natural disasters, maintain national forests and work on rural infrastructure projects. The program — known as the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers — is being transferred to the Labor Department. As part of the move, it intends to close nine out of 25 centers. The origins of the Civilian Conservation Corps date back to the Great Depression. [cite]


Trump Administration Plans to End Protections for Endangered Species After U.N. Report Warns of ‘Mass Extinction Event’

May 10, 2019 A United Nations report found that one-eighth of the world’s animals and plants are at risk of extinction and that biodiversity was declining at an “unprecedented pace,” but David Bernhardt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, said this dire portrait won’t stop the Trump administration from ending protections for endangered species in the United States. Bernhardt said the Department of the Interior’s policy revisions limit protections for threatened animals and factor the cost to corporations in protecting endangered species. [cite]


Trump admin officially rolls back safety rules put in place after Deepwater Horizon

May 2, 2019 The Department of the Interior (DOI) is rolling back offshore drilling safety protections put in place after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The announcement comes as the Trump administration’s coastal fossil fuel ambitions are under intense scrutiny following legal setbacks and bipartisan opposition. [cite]


Trump fracking plan targets over 1 million acres in California

April 25, 2019 The Trump administration detailed its plan to open more than a million acres of public and private land in California to fracking, raising environmental concerns at a time when opposition to oil and gas drilling in the state is intensifying. The action would end a five-year moratorium on leasing federal land in California to oil and gas developers. Trump’s plan targets public and private land spread across eight counties in Central California: eastern Fresno, western Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura. [cite]


Killing migratory birds, even unintentionally, has been a crime for decades. Not anymore.

April 8, 2019 Under Republican and Democratic presidents from Nixon through Obama, killing migratory birds, even inadvertently, was a crime, with fines for violations ranging from $250 to $100 million. The power to prosecute created a deterrent that protected birds and enabled government to hold companies to account for environmental disasters. But in part due to President Donald Trump’s new interior secretary, David Bernhardt, the wildlife cop is no longer on the beat. [cite]


Trump’s pick to lead Interior blocked study on endangered species

March 26, 2019 David Bernhardt, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Interior Department, helped block the release of a study at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service examining the impact of pesticides on endangered species. The report detailed the impact two pesticides had on more than 1,200 endangered bird, fish and other wildlife, saying the chemicals were so toxic they “jeopardize the continued existence” of the species. The study was to have led to tighter restrictions on the use of the pesticides malathion and chlorpyrifos. [cite]


BLM finalizes major rollbacks on sage-grouse conservation plans

March 15, 2019 The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its records of decision to amend the 2015 sage-grouse conservation plans, rolling back many of the key protections that are crucial to the survival of the sage-grouse and the 350 species these lands support across the West. The 2015 plans involved an unprecedented amount of collaboration between over a dozen stakeholders across 11 western states including bipartisan governors, scientists, ranchers and industry. [cite]


Trump Admin Announces Plan to Strip Gray Wolves of Endangered Species Act Protections

March 6, 2019 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will attempt to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in the lower 48 states, Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has announced. Gray wolves were hunted nearly to extinction in the contiguous U.S. and there were only around 1,000 left in Minnesota when they were first granted protection in 1975. Now there are more than 5,000 living mostly in the Western Great Lakes and Northern Rockies regions. Some conservation groups say they now cover five percent of their historic range. [cite]


Park Service to Cut Law Enforcement Ranger Training

February 25, 2019 The National Park Service (NPS) is quietly taking steps to abandon mandatory attendance by its permanent law enforcement rangers in the academy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). The agency is instead seeking to principally rely on seasonal law enforcement training programs independently operated at non-NPS facilities, such as community colleges, across the country. The shift would reverse a nearly 50-year trend towards steadily upgrading the training and professionalism in the NPS law enforcement ranger corps. The purpose of the plan is to reduce training costs. [cite]


Consumers to pay a hefty price for Trump’s rollback of light bulb efficiency standards

February 12, 2019 Donald Trump is rolling back efficiency standards for light bulbs, at a cost to consumers of over $100 billion — some $1,000 per household — by 2030. The Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has started a process to undo those standards, despite projections that they would prevent the release of 540 million tons of greenhouse gases and hundreds of thousands of tons of the pollutants that worsen asthma, cardiopulmonary disease, and premature death. [cite]


US oil lease near sacred park pushes forward

January 31, 2019 U.S. land managers will move forward in March with the sale of oil and gas leases that include land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico and other areas sacred to Native American tribes. Chaco is a world heritage site with massive stone structures, kivas and other features that archaeologists believe offered a religious or ritualistic experience. [cite]


Court Rules for Oil Refinery Over Clean Air Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park

January 24, 2019 The Southwest District Court of North Dakota upheld the North Dakota Department of Health air permit issued to Meridian Energy Group last year for the construction of a new refinery located near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The proposed Davis Refinery will be the first newly constructed industrial crude oil refinery in the United States in nearly 40 years and poses a substantial threat to air quality in neighboring areas. [cite]


State Of Washington Lambastes Trump Administration Plan To Reclassify Nuke Waste

January 8, 2019 The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking to reclassify a large percentage of radioactive waste on a site in Hanford, Washington as lower-level waste. That would allow treatment and disposal options that would not guarantee long-term protections. Hanford tanks hold 60 percent of the nation’s most dangerous radioactive waste left over from nuclear weapons production. Currently, all of that waste is classified as high-level. [cite]


Trump’s EPA says limits on mercury emissions from coal plants not necessary

December 28, 2018 The Trump administration said limits on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants were not necessary as their costs outweighed the benefits, sparking an outcry among environmentalists who say the move favors the coal industry at the expense of public health. Coal-burning power plants have previously been forced to install expensive equipment to cut output of mercury, which can harm pregnant women and put infants and children at risk of developmental problems. [cite]


New Trump executive order threatens National Forests

December 21, 2018 Just before the most recent government shutdown, President Trump quietly released an executive order, threatening America’s National Forests and public lands with increased logging and seeking to eliminate both public input and environmental regulations affecting federal forest management. The order uses recent wildfires to undermine designated wilderness and roadless area protections, even though decades of data show these lands are the most likely to exhibit healthy fire behavior. In fact, commercial logging and road building have been found to increase wildfire risk. [cite]


Sen. Mike Lee sinks a big public lands package because Congress won’t stop presidents from creating national monuments in Utah

December 19, 2018 In retaliation for Congress not preventing presidents from creating new national monuments in Utah, Sen. Mike Lee single-handedly blocked a massive public lands package — including several bills sought by his colleagues from Utah. Among the torpedoed bills was a last-minute compromise that could have solved years-long battles over wilderness areas in the state. He said the legislation also included several bills he opposed, including permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund often used to buy more federal land. [cite]


Trump rolls back decades of Clean Water Act protections

December 11, 2018 The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a proposal redefining US waters under the Clean Water Act. The proposal seeks to remove protections on “ephemeral streams” – which only appear after rainfall – and wetlands not directly connected or adjacent to large bodies of water. Wetlands are a crucial part of the ecosystem, improving water quality by absorbing pollutants, acting as a barrier for flooding and supporting a diverse array of wildlife. [cite]


EPA announces plan to ease carbon emissions rule for new coal plants

December 6, 2018 The Environmental Protection Agency said it plans to reverse a rule that would have forced new U.S. coal plants to install technology to capture their carbon dioxide emissions, marking the latest effort by the Trump administration to repeal Obama-era climate regulations. [cite]


Greater Chaco Advocates Rally at BLM to Protest Sale of Over 89,000 Acres for Fracking

December 5, 2018 Advocates rallied in front of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state office in Santa Fe to protest the December 5th and 6th online auction of over 89,000 acres of public and ancestral tribal lands for fracking, including over 44,000 acres in the Greater Chaco region, and over 40,000 near Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Tribal leaders, environmental groups, and advocates expressed growing outrage at BLM’s chronic disengagement with the public, its lack of meaningful tribal consultation, and its failure to consider the public health and environmental impacts. [cite]


Trump’s approval of offshore seismic blasting for oil and gas threatens marine life

November 30, 2018 The Trump administration authorized five companies to use seismic testing in the search for oil and gas deposits in waters off the U.S. East Coast, a decision that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales, and other marine animals. The National Marine Fisheries Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will allow the companies to use seismic airguns to explore for oil and gas in federal waters from Delaware to central Florida. [cite]


Trump administration eyes more of Alaskan Arctic for oil drilling

November 20, 2018 The Trump administration is taking its first steps toward expanding oil and natural gas drilling in an area roughly the size of Indiana in the Alaskan Arctic. The Interior Department is ready to abandon a management plan put in place under Barack Obama for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, or the NPR-A. “We think it’s time to re-evaluate some of the areas that were previously left unavailable for leasing,” said an Interior spokesperson. [cite]



House of Representatives votes to delist gray wolves

November 16, 2018 The House of Representatives voted to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species list. The “Manage Our Wolves Act” would would also prohibit federal judicial review of the legislation. The law would not affect the status of the Mexican gray wolf. Sponsors of the bill, including Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Dan Newhouse, both R-Wash., say wolves have recovered to a point that they no longer need federal protection. Opponents of the bill say the apex predator still needs protections and the law would set a dangerous precedent in which politicians make decisions best reserved for scientists. [cite]



Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department

October 30, 2018 The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its ongoing probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation. Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall is conducting at least three probes that involve Zinke. These include his involvement in a Montana land deal and the decision not to grant two tribes approval to operate a casino in Connecticut. A referral to the Justice Department means that prosecutors will explore whether a criminal investigation is warranted. [cite]



Zinke plans to destroy Interior Department records

October 27, 2018 Ryan Zinke wants to destroy records such as proposals to help endangered species recover and proposals for protecting where the animals live. The request is part of a proposed massive purge of Interior records that also includes records about oil and gas leases, timber sales, dams and land purchases. Only final reports would be kept, and transferred to the National Archives, where they would be more difficult to access under the Freedom of Information Act for reporters and other researchers. [cite]



Trump nominates former Monsanto executive to lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

October 22, 2018 President Trump announced that he intends to nominate a former agrochemical industry official to lead the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The selection of Aurelia Skipwith, who worked at Monsanto for six years, to head FWS carries on a Trump administration trend of filling top environmental regulatory positions with officials from companies regulated by the agency. [cite]



Zinke Has Fired the DOI Inspector General

October 15, 2018 At last count, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was the subject of 14 separate government investigations, but that number could soon be zero. That’s because Zinke just fired the Department of the Interior’s acting inspector general who had been looking into irregularities. He faces investigations for his lavish travel arrangements, threatening members of Congress, a potentially illegal real estate deal, and re-assigning senior DOI employees he didn’t consider “loyal,” among others. [cite]



E.P.A. to Disband a Key Scientific Review Panel on Air Pollution

October 11, 2018 The 20-person Particulate Matter Review Panel, made up of experts in microscopic airborne pollutants known to cause respiratory disease, is responsible for helping the agency decide what levels of pollutants are safe to breathe. Agency officials declined to say why the E.P.A. intends to stop convening the panel next year, particularly as the agency considers whether to revise air quality standards. [cite]



Trump administration moves to open 1.6 million acres to fracking, drilling in California

October 3, 2018 The Trump administration took a first step toward opening 1.6 million acres of California public land to fracking and conventional oil drilling, triggering alarm bells among environmentalists. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said it’s considering new oil and natural gas leases on BLM-managed lands in Fresno, San Luis Obispo and six other San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast counties. [cite]



Zinke is officially rolling back offshore oil and gas production safety rules

September 28, 2018 Safety rules for the oil and gas industry introduced after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster are officially being rolled back by the Trump administration. In a notice that appears in the Federal Register, the Dept. of Interior removes or revises certain rules focusing on safety requirements during the time an oil platform is producing oil and gas. [cite]



Trump administration abruptly ends key law enforcement program at wildlife refuges

September 21, 2018 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced to employees on Sept. 21 that refuge managers who were also trained to police the area would no longer be able to act in any enforcement capacity and would be stripped of their firearm. “It means there will be lots of violations, wildlife violations as in over-bagged hunting areas, damaged fences, signs, roads and all kinds of damage to the environment. If there is no one there to enforce the law, that would spread like wildfire.” [cite]



Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air

September 10, 2018 The Trump administration, taking its third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change, is preparing to make it significantly easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere. Methane, which is among the most powerful greenhouse gases, routinely leaks from oil and gas wells, and energy companies have long said that the rules requiring them to test for emissions were costly and burdensome. The EPA will also repeal a restriction on the intentional venting and “flaring,” or burning, of methane from drilling operations. [cite]



Zinke opens more wildlife refuges to hunting

September 7, 2018 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke allowed for new or expanded hunting or fishing at 30 wildlife refuges. The move opens 251,000 new acres to hunting or fishing across the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) refuge system. By the 2018-2019 hunting season, 377 refuges will allow hunting and 312 will allow fishing. What doesn’t Zinke understand about “wildlife refuge?” [cite]



Feds reopen forests near Boundary Waters Wilderness to mining

September 6, 2018 The Trump administration has canceled a study of a proposed 20-year mining ban within the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, clearing the way for renewed mineral leasing within about 365 square miles of the Superior National Forest. The Boundary Waters is America’s most visited wilderness area. Explorers find refuge in its pristine waters and forested lands, which offer 1,200 miles of canoe routes and 18 hiking trails. The area also includes more than 1,000 lakes left by receding glaciers and hundreds of miles of streams. [cite]



Government Defunds Grand Canyon Scientific Research

August 21, 2018 The federal government plans to defund several longstanding programs that monitor the environmental health of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Twenty-three million dollars will be swept from the “Basin Fund” which supports Grand Canyon research and ensures Glen Canyon Dam operates in compliance with federal laws like the Endangered Species Act. Hydropower revenues have funded this work for more than two decades. [cite]



Trump issues rollback of Obama’s biggest climate rule

August 21, 2018 The new EPA rule would allow states more leeway to write their own regulations for coal-fired power plants or even seek permission to opt out, a sharp contrast with the previous version that sought to shift the electricity industry away from coal use and toward less-polluting sources such as natural gas, wind and solar. The new proposed rules would trim less than 10% of the carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector as the Obama EPA’s version. [cite]



Trump Administration May Sell Or Transfer Land Cut From Utah Monument

August 15, 2018 The Bureau of Land Management is considering the “disposal” of parcels totalling more than 1,600 acres that Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke stripped from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. One parcel ― a 120-acre piece of land east of Kanab ― sits adjacent to 40 acres that are owned by Utah state Rep. Mike Noel (R) and which were removed from the monument. “Looks like an egregious attempt to sell public land for the benefit of one of Secretary Zinke’s Utah cronies.” [cite]



Trump Administration Reverses Ban of Bee-Toxic Pesticides on National Wildlife Refuges

August 7, 2018 The Trump administration has reversed a 2014 U.S. Fish and Wildlife decision to ban neonicotinoids on National Wildlife Refuges. The highest risk to bees is posed by use of two neonicotinoids, thiamethoxam and clothianidin, on cereal grains like corn, wheat, rice, and barley. The seeds of these crops are typically coated with neonicotinoids before planting, where residues persist in the pollen and nectar. [cite]



Trump administration rolls back plans to raise fuel economy standards for autos

August 2, 2018 The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency say they intend to reverse ambitious targets for fuel economy and emissions reductions, which the agencies developed under President Barack Obama. At the same time, the administration confirmed it will seek to strip California of its special authority to set its own fuel economy levels for autos. [cite]



Trump to end policy ordering developers pay for damage to public lands

July 25, 2018 The Trump administration will end a policy that requires oil drillers, miners and land developers to pay the government for damages its work can have on wildlife and habitats on public land. The Interior Department will stop requiring off-site “compensatory mitigation.” [cite]



Law That Saved the Bald Eagle Could Be Vastly Reworked

July 19, 2018 The Interior Department proposed the most sweeping set of changes in decades to the Endangered Species Act, the law that brought the bald eagle and the Yellowstone grizzly bear back from the edge of extinction but which Republicans say is cumbersome and restricts economic development. The proposed revisions have far-reaching implications, potentially making it easier for roads, pipelines and other construction projects to gain approvals. [cite]



Trump administration officials dismissed benefits of national monuments

July 16, 2018 New documents show that as U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke conducted his four-month review, Interior officials rejected material that would justify keeping protections in place for National Monuments and sought out evidence that could buttress the case for unraveling them. Senior Interior Department officials dismissed evidence that these public lands boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries, instead tailoring their survey of protected sites to emphasize the value of logging, ranching and energy development. [cite]



There could be eight times more coal mining near Bryce Canyon National Park

July 13, 2018 The Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management released a final environmental impact statement (EIS) endorsing the proposed lease of 3,600 acres to mine nearly 45 million tons of coal just eight mmiles from Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s unclear how [the BLM] would address issues related to night-sky impacts, ambient light, air pollution, soundscape impacts for operations running 24–7, 365 days a year. [cite]



House Republicans Launch Extinction Bills Aimed at Crippling Endangered Species Act

July 12, 2018 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives announced a series of bills aimed at profoundly gutting the Endangered Species Act, including provisions making it almost impossible for imperiled species to gain protection and giving states that often oppose endangered species protection veto power over those decisions. [cite]



Trump cancels whale and sea turtle protections

July 9, 2018 The Trump administration tossed out a rule on marine protection for whales and sea turtles caught in fishing nets off the West Coast. The rule change was made despite the fishing industry’s having proposed the measures in the first place. The National Marine Fisheries Service, a division within the Commerce Department, said it decided the new protection rules were not warranted. [cite]



Pruitt grants loophole to ‘super polluting’ diesel truck manufacturers on last day at EPA

July 6, 2018 The Environmental Protection Agency granted a loophole to allow increased manufacturing of a kind of diesel freight truck known as “super polluting.” The move, which came on embattled administrator Scott Pruitt’s last day on the job, is being harshly criticized by environmentalists and lung health advocates. The agency will not enforce a previous cap on manufacturers making “glider trucks,” older engines–that do not meet modern emissions requirements–with newer truck bodies. [cite]



76 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump, So Far

July 6, 2018 The Trump administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry, including major Obama-era policies aimed at fighting climate change. To date, they have sought to reverse more than 70 environmental rules. [cite]



EPA blocks warnings on cancer-causing chemical

July 6, 2018 The Trump administration is suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments. The warnings are contained in a draft health assessment EPA scientists completed just before Donald Trump became president. Current EPA officials are delaying its release as part of a campaign to undermine the agency’s independent research into the health risks of toxic chemicals. [cite]



Utah oil drillers won pollution break from Pruitt

July 3, 2018 Utah oil and gas producers tried for years to get the EPA to exempt them from smog rules meant to prevent ailments like asthma. They finally got their relief after Scott Pruitt took charge of the agency, newly released emails show. The records are yet another sign that Pruitt has transformed an agency created to protect the environment into a tool for granting favors to industry. [cite]



White House seeking more clean energy cuts despite congressional opposition

June 26, 2018 The Trump administration is preparing to ask for even deeper funding cuts to clean energy research at the Energy Department – just months after Congress rejected proposed cuts to those offices, and instead appropriated funding for alternative energy research above the level the Trump administration requested. [cite]



With legal challenges pending, moves are being made to begin mining within boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

June 21, 2018 A hard rock mine that shut down when President Clinton established the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah in 1996 could soon be back in operation, as President Trump’s realignment of the monument places the mine outside its boundaries and a Canadian-based mining company has purchased the rights to it. Whether President Trump’s revised boundaries for the national monument hold up in court remains to be seen, and outside groups already are lining up to challenge the move. [cite]



Forest Service proposes changes to sage grouse protections

June 20, 2018 The U.S. Forest Service proposed changes to sage grouse protections in six Western states that call for eliminating special designations for crucial habitat as well as keeping areas open for mining. The agency also said restrictions on water development for livestock will be removed as will other requirements that could limit some livestock grazing. The plan covers 9,500 square miles of greater sage grouse habitat in Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah and Montana. [cite]



Trump just erased an Obama-era policy to protect the oceans

June 20, 2018 President Trump ended an eight-year-old policy to protect oceans, which was created as hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well, covering more than 65,000 square miles, killing untold numbers of wildlife and devastating fisheries in several Gulf Coast states. There is no longer a national policy to promote healthy ocean ecosystems. [cite]



Pruitt grants home state coal ash regulation powers, enraging environmentalists

June 19, 2018 Environmental organizations and activists slammed the Trump administration’s decision to grant Oklahoma the nation’s first-ever permit to regulate coal ash, citing the state’s lackluster oversight record. Critics also expressed concern that the move would put residents in danger and expose them to cancerous toxins. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) has regulated coal ash for over 20 years using federal rules, something this announcement changes. [cite]



E.P.A. Takes a Major Step to Roll Back Clean Car Rules

June 1, 2018 The Trump administration took a major step toward dramatically weakening an Obama-era rule designed to cut pollution from vehicle tailpipes, setting the stage for a legal clash with California that could potentially split the nation’s auto market in two. Its proposal rolls back climate change rules that required automakers to nearly double the fuel economy of passenger vehicles to an average of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. [cite]



Federal regulators vote to limit practice of measuring climate impact of pipelines

May 18, 2018 Federal regulators appeared to defy a 2017 court ruling when they decided not to take greenhouse gas emissions into account as part of their review of natural gas pipeline applications. [cite]



Trump administration ends critical NASA greenhouse gas monitoring program

May 9, 2018 The Trump administration has gutted a crucial research program run by NASA that helped monitor greenhouse gases. Without the program, experts say they will have difficulty tracking national carbon emissions. The effort measured carbon dioxide and methane using satellites and similar mechanisms. That data gathered was used both nationally and internationally. [cite]



Feds grant Utah’s largest coal producer a royalty discount worth up to $19 million

May 8, 2018 Utah’s largest coal mine is getting a fee discount worth up to $19 million after the Bureau of Land Management authorized a royalty reduction in recognition of unspecified difficulties the company faces in extracting certain deposits of coal. The BLM decision represents a substantial loss of revenue that would go to local governments. [cite]



Interior Dept declines to reimplement grizzly protections near Yellowstone

April 27, 2018 U.S. officials will not restore federal protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bears, despite a court ruling that called into question the government’s rationale for turning grizzly management over to states that are now planning public hunts for the animals. The disclosure from the Interior Department follows a months-long review of a decision last year to lift protections in place since 1975 for about 700 bears. [cite]



Why Scott Pruitt’s decision on burning wood is so high stakes

April 23, 2018 The EPA chief declared that the burning of biomass – such as trees – for energy will be considered “carbon neutral” by the agency in many cases. Trees are largely composed of carbon. When burned, it becomes atmosphere-warming CO2. While carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of wood go into the air immediately, trees take decades or more to grow back. [cite]



White House Abruptly Orders EPA To Loosen Clean Air Rules In Polluter Giveaway

April 12, 2018 With little notice, President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to dramatically overhaul national clean air standards and make it easier for industry to pollute in areas where it’s already dangerous to breathe. The executive order ― titled “Promoting Domestic Manufacturing and Job Creation ― Policies and Procedures Relating to Implementation of Air Quality Standards” ― reverses an Obama-era decision. [cite]



Senate confirms former coal lobbyist to serve as EPA’s deputy administrator

April 12, 2018 The Senate has confirmed Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As recently as last summer, Wheeler worked as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the largest privately-owned coal firm in the United States. Despite Wheeler’s long history of advocating for the interests of the coal industry and embracing climate science denial, his nomination was met with relatively little resistance from Congress. [cite]



Zinke’s Reassignment Of Native Americans And Climate Scientists at Interior Possibly Illegal

April 11, 2018 The reassignment of dozens of senior career Interior Department (DOI) officials last year may have violated federal law, a damning internal report found. But investigators with the DOI Inspector General’s office said they were unable to say definitively because the agency failed to properly document their reasons for ousting the employees. [cite]



EPA threatens to revoke California’s ability to set emissions standards as the Trump administration moves to abandon fuel mileage goals

April 2, 2018 The Trump administration openly threatened one of the cornerstones of California’s environmental protections, saying that it may revoke the state’s ability under the Clean Air Act to impose stricter standards than the federal government sets for vehicle emissions. The announcement came as the administration confirmed it is tearing up landmark fuel economy rules pushing automakers to manufacture cleaner burning cars and SUVs. [cite]



National Park Service warned lease sale could harm national monument in Utah

March 20, 2018 The Bureau of Land Management disregarded a request by the National Park Service that it hold off leasing 17,000 acres of public land in Utah because of concerns that drilling there could harm Hovenweep National Monument’s views and air, groundwater and sound quality. All 13 parcels were sold online as part of a broader sale, with the lease prices ranging from $3 to roughly $91 an acre. [cite]



New EPA rule gives states power to determine coal ash disposal

March 1, 2018 The Trump administration announced a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule aimed at giving states the independence to determine how to best dispose of coal ash, the toxic metal left from burning coal. More than 110 million tons of coal ash are produced annually by coal-fired power plants, according to the EPA. The move is a sharp departure from the Obama administration, which sought to better regulate disposal of the toxic metal. [cite]



Court Stops Trump Administration Attempt to Delay BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule

February 23, 2018 A U.S. District Court has ruled against Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s attempt to delay the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Waste Prevention Rule. The protections restored by this decision will help to prevent the waste of natural gas, reduce harmful methane, smog-forming and toxic pollution, and ensure communities and tribes have royalty money that can be used to construct roads and schools. [cite]



Trump wants more pipelines and fewer rangers in national parks

February 12, 2018 President Donald Trump’s FY 2019 budget recommends extreme staffing cuts of nearly 2,000 National Park Service rangers at a time when national park visitation is at an all-time high. The president’s budget proposes a drastic 16 percent cut to the Department of the Interior, which houses the National Park Service, and a cut of seven percent to the park service itself. In 2016, the national parks received record visitation rates of nearly 331 million visits. [cite]


Trump administration plan would roll back environmental reviews covering use of public lands

February 8, 2018 The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has finalized a set of recommendations that would overhaul the way it permits energy exploration and other activities on public land by streamlining environmental reviews. Memo shows plan to steamroll environmental protections, cater to industry, shut down public input, and prioritize development over conservation on public lands. [cite]


CDC to cut global disease outbreak prevention by 80 percent

February 1, 2018 Four years after the United States pledged to help the world fight infectious disease epidemics like Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is dramatically downsizing its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries because money is running out. The Trump administration has not budgeted additional resources, according to global infectious disease experts. [cite]


Trump’s infrastructure plan would clear the way for pipelines through national parks

January 29, 2018 Since the 1920s, companies seeking to build pipelines through national parks have had to obtain approval from Congress — but a single provision in the Trump administration’s proposed infrastructure plan could completely upend that status quo. The change would only require approval from the secretary of the interior — a move that environmental and conservation groups derided as a giveaway to the oil and gas industry at the expense of public lands. [cite]


U.S. EPA reverses policy on ‘major sources’ of pollution

January 25, 2018 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it was withdrawing a provision of the Clean Air Act that requires a major source of pollution like a power plant to always be treated as a major source, even if it makes changes to reduce emissions. “This move drastically weakens protective limits on air pollutants like arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins,” say environmental groups. [cite]


Groups decry oil, gas leases near Moab, Utah national parks

January 11, 2018 The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) prepares to sell oil and gas leases on more than 51,000 acres of public lands near national parks and monuments in southeastern Utah. Such auctions are held every two years. The pending public lands auction is of special concern because more than half of the 43 parcels up for lease are located in areas of known cultural and environmental sensitivity. [cite]


Trump administration is taking steps to remove a threatened lynx from the endangered-species list

January 11, 2018 The Trump administration is moving to strike the Canada lynx from the endangered-species list, despite a 2016 assessment concluding the species will die out in its northern range by the end of the century without federal protection. The administration expressed confidence the animals would survive through 2050 — though officials said they could not be certain of the lynx’s fate in its sprawling range across Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Colorado, Idaho and Washington. [cite]


Trump administration plans to allow expanded drilling off U.S. continental waters

January 4, 2018 The Trump administration unveiled a controversial plan to permit drilling in all U.S. continental shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic. The president has long backed expanded drilling along the nation’s coasts as part of his energy plan. Coastal communities that rely on fishing and tourism have opposed drilling, and the plan faces bipartisan criticism. [cite]


Trump Administration Repeals Obama Rule Designed to Make Fracking Safer

December 29, 2017 The Trump administration is rescinding Obama-era rules designed to increase the safety of fracking. The 2015 rule required companies drilling for natural gas and oil on public lands to comply with federal safety standards in the construction of fracking wells, to disclose the chemicals used during the fracking process, and required companies to cover surface ponds that store fracking wastewater. [cite]


Trump administration eases rule against killing birds

December 22, 2017 The Interior Department has quietly rolled back a policy aimed at protecting migratory birds, stating in a solicitor’s opinion that it will no longer prosecute oil and gas, wind, and solar operators that accidentally kill birds. The new interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) marks a win for energy interests that described the federal government’s previous position as overreaching. The law in question was enacted in 1918. [cite]


Trump to slash safety regulations put in place after nation’s worst environmental disaster

December 22, 2017 During the Obama administration, the federal government took action to prevent another Deepwater Horizon-sized oil spill, widely viewed as the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. After taking office, the Trump administration immediately began making plans to relax certain offshore drilling rules implemented after the 2010 disaster. The proposal represents another component of President Donald Trump’s goal of achieving a “new era of American energy dominance,” and his desire to reduce the amount of federal regulations to the same level as 1960. [cite]


Trump Administration to Grant Mining Leases That Will Benefit Landlord of President’s Daughter Ivanka

December 22, 2017 The Trump administration said it will renew mining leases to extract copper and nickel adjacent to a Minnesota wilderness area, reversing an Obama decision and giving a victory to a Chilean billionaire who is renting a mansion to the family of the president’s daughter. [cite]


Trump Administration Rolls Back EPA Plan to Restrict Dangerous Household Chemicals

December 20, 2017 The Trump Administration has quietly delayed action on dangerous solvents that the Environmental Protection Agency had previously planned to ban. The three chemicals — TCE, NMP, and methylene chloride — are used to strip furniture, remove grease, and dry clean clothes. All three are clearly dangerous: The EPA has deemed TCE a carcinogen “by all routes of exposure,” NMP is a developmental toxin, and methylene chloride has killed at least 56 people since 1980, many of whom were stripping bathtubs. [cite]


Trump breaks with military leaders, removes climate change from list of national security threats

December 18, 2017 President Donald Trump’s new National Security Strategy, released Monday, removed all mentions of climate change as a national security threat, a decision in line with major steps taken by the administration over the past 11 months to downplay the perils of climate change. Two years ago, the Obama administration issued a strategy that identified climate change as “an urgent and growing threat to our national security.” [cite]


North Cascades grizzly bear recovery work halted by Interior Department

December 13, 2017 Work on grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades Ecosystem has been halted even as the continental United States’ two largest grizzly populations near removal from Endangered Species Act protection. North Cascades National Park Superintendent told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee that her staff had been asked to stop work on its environmental impact statement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office. The order also stalls discussions with Canadian wildlife managers who oversee a similar grizzly recovery process in British Columbia. [cite]


Interior secretary pushing controversial road project

December 9, 2017 Far down the Alaskan peninsula, where it curves into the Bering Sea, lies the remote Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The federally protected, 492-square-mile wilderness area is home to brown bears, caribou, wolves, and, once a year, the entire world population of black brant geese. The Interior Department, led by Secretary Ryan Zinke, is pushing a plan that would – for the first time anywhere – allow a new road through a federally protected wilderness area. [cite]


Interior delays Obama-era regulation on methane emissions

December 7, 2017 The Interior Department is delaying an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. The rule forces energy companies to capture methane that’s burned off or “flared” at drilling sites because it pollutes the environment. A rule being published in the Federal Register delays the methane regulation until January 2019, saying the previous rule is overly burdensome to industry. Officials said the delay will allow the federal Bureau of Land Management time to review the earlier rule while avoiding tens of millions of dollars in compliance costs to industry that may turn out to be unnecessary. [cite]


Ryan Zinke memo signals Trump’s attack on public lands is just getting started

December 5, 2017 President Donald Trump apparently isn’t done reducing the size of national monuments. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that Trump target at least eight more monuments for downsizing or reduced protections. In the memo, Zinke recommended that Trump revise the boundaries of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in a way that’s favorable to commercial timber. He also advised Trump to change the boundary of the Gold Butte National Monument to ensure ranchers are allowed permits to graze livestock on the land. [cite]


Trump scales back two huge national monuments in Utah, drawing protests

December 4, 2017 President Trump announced that he is drastically scaling back two national monuments established in Utah by his Democratic predecessors, the largest reduction of public lands protection in U.S. history. Trump’s move to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments by more than 1.1 million acres and more than 800,000 acres, respectively, immediately sparked an outpouring of praise from conservative lawmakers, and protests from activists outside the White House and in Utah. [cite]


Climate change is a ‘direct threat to national security,’ the defense bill says, and Trump is expected to sign it

November 22, 2017 The 1,000-page National Defense Authorization Act that Congress sent to President Trump is packed with new military policies and weapons purchases. But also tucked into the voluminous legislation is a warning about climate change, something Trump has openly ridiculed for years. Changing climate is a “direct threat” to U.S. national security, endangering 128 military bases with sea rise and global destabilization that could fuel terror groups. The bill orders a Pentagon report on the top 10 at-risk bases and what should be done to protect them. [cite]


Trump admin taking quiet steps to seize border land

November 13, 2017 Roughly two-thirds of the US-Mexico border runs through private or state-owned lands, meaning the federal government would need to purchase, seize or seek permission to use land in order to build a border wall. Although approval for a new border wall has yet to come, the Trump administration has taken subtle steps to be able to seize land to build one, including by restarting litigation that has laid dormant for years against landowners. [cite]


In unprecedented move, EPA to block scientists who get agency funding from serving as advisers

October 31, 2017 Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is poised to make wholesale changes to the agency’s key advisory group by jettisoning scientists who have received grants from the EPA and replacing them with industry experts and state government officials. The decision to bar any researcher who receives EPA grant money from serving as an adviser appears to be unprecedented. [cite]


Trump agrees to shrink national monuments

October 27, 2017 President Donald Trump plans to shrink the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced, a change that will open parts of them to drilling and mining but which environmental groups and Native Americans are vowing to fight. Interior Secretary Zinke in September recommended unspecified boundary changes to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments, the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, and the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon. [cite]


How Trump Is Crippling Storm Forecasting Just When It’s Getting Good

October 20, 2017 The president’s budget proposal would slash the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget by 16 percent, including 6 percent from the National Weather Service. Besides hampering climate research, the cuts would jeopardize satellite programs and other forecasting tools – as well as threaten the jobs of forecasters themselves. And they may undermine bipartisan legislation Trump himself signed earlier this year that mandates key steps to improve the nation’s ability to predict disasters before they happen. [cite]


Trump moves to cancel landmark Obama climate change rule

October 10, 2017 The Trump administration took its first step to undo President Barack Obama’s landmark climate change rule, fulfilling a major campaign promise but likely triggering years of court fights. The Environmental Protection Agency said it will move to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a 2015 regulation that aimed to hasten the electric power industry’s shift away from coal and toward greener sources of energy. [cite]


Trump Administration Denies Protection to Pacific Walrus Imperiled by Climate Change

October 4, 2017 The Trump administration denied Endangered Species Act protection to the Pacific walrus, which is imperiled by climate change. Today’s denial reverses an Obama administration decision that the Pacific walrus deserves protection because of the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice. The Pacific walrus needs sea ice for giving birth, nursing and resting. Over the past decade, climate change has caused summer sea ice to disappear from the walrus’s shallow foraging grounds in the Chukchi Sea. Without summer sea ice for resting, walrus mothers and calves have been forced to come ashore, where they have limited access to food and young walruses are vulnerable to predators. [cite]


Interior Department to Overhaul Obama’s Sage Grouse Protection Plan

September 28, 2017 The Interior Department intends to publish a formal notice of intent to amend 98 sage grouse habitat management plans across 10 states. Those plans, completed in 2015 during the Obama Administration, were adopted after a decade of negotiations among conservationists, sportsmen and extraction industries as well as federal, state, local and tribal authorities. The move could lead to new mineral leasing, grazing and other commercial activities across the quirky bird’s Western habitat. [cite]


Senate bill could trigger mass slaughter of wild mustangs

September 27, 2017 The fate of thousands of wild horses hangs in the balance as the Senate considers an amendment to a spending bill that would allow euthanasia of mustangs and burros roaming free on land owned by the federal government. The roundup is the result of a lawsuit settled by the state of Utah over wild horses encroaching on ranch land. The amendment would allow the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell excess wild horses without an assurance they wouldn’t be slaughtered. [cite]


EPA head met with a mining CEO – and then pushed forward a controversial mining project

September 22, 2017 Within hours of meeting with a mining company CEO in May, the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, directed his staff to withdraw a plan to protect the watershed of Bristol Bay, Alaska, one of the most valuable wild salmon fisheries on Earth. In 2014, after three years of peer-reviewed study, the Obama administration’s EPA invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act to try to protect Bristol Bay after finding that a mine “would result in complete loss of fish habitat.” [cite]


Trump administration removes links to taxpayer-funded climate data on USGS website

September 18, 2017 In its relatively short time in power, the Trump administration has made no attempt to hide its disdain for studying, communicating, and acting on the threat posed by climate change. Rather than simply ignore the scientific information and research accessible to the public, however, the administration instead has chosen to remove climate data and references to climate change from government websites. In the process, they’ve gone to “shocking” and “distressing” levels to hide the truth from the American public — who, it must be remembered, funded all this research. [cite]


Scott Pruitt says EPA will reconsider rule safeguarding communities from coal ash

September 13, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency plans to “reconsider” portions of a 2015 rule that provides safeguards for communities located near toxic coal ash waste sites, agency administrator Scott Pruitt said in a letter to industry officials. The clean water protections that Pruitt now wants to revisit marked the first substantive steps the EPA has taken to protect the public from coal ash. Coal ash has high levels of toxic heavy metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead. [cite]


EPA postpones implementation of Obama-era toxic wastewater rules for coal plants

September 13, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency officially postponed rules limiting toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants, a move that environmental groups are calling a gift to the coal industry and owners of coal-fired power plants. The EPA’s move “resets the clock” for the toxic wastewater guidelines, providing relief to power plant owners from existing regulatory deadlines while the agency studies the regulation. The plants now will have until November 1, 2020 to comply with the rule, instead of November 1, 2018. [cite]


The Federal Land Freedom Act Limits Freedom Outdoors

September 11, 2017 A new bill introduced to Congress seeks to remove federal oversight of oil and gas drilling on public land, thereby allowing that industry to circumvent environmental regulations. It could also limit public access to that public land. The Federal Land Freedom Act does for freedom on federal lands what the Patriot Act does for patriotism. Under the guise of states’ rights, limited government, and energy independence, they’re attempting to sell off public lands for energy development. [cite]


BLM to auction oil and gas leases next to Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument and in San Rafael Swell

September 1, 2017 Federal land managers are moving forward with a proposed sale of controversial oil and gas leases in Utah’s San Rafael Swell and on the doorstep of Dinosaur National Monument. The move comes despite misgivings from Uintah County and National Park Service officials, who fear that energy development would detract from Dinosaur’s scenic allure. Many of the leases cover places along the western reefs of the San Rafael Swell that were the focus of a leasing controversy in 2013. The BLM pulled them from consideration in response to concerns about rock art sites the agency had not surveyed. [cite]


The Trump Administration is Muzzling the National Park Service

August 28, 2017 Administration officials inside the Department of the Interior literally deleted NPS Acting Director Michael Reynolds’s comments on proposed legislation that would allow hunters to kill bear cubs in their dens, prevented the NPS from regulating commercial fishing within national parks, and forbidden Park Service officials from even commenting on development projects outside Park boundaries that could negatively impact the parks. Agency officials were also told they could not repeat their concerns to Congress. [cite]


Interior Secretary Proposes Shrinking Four National Monuments

August 24, 2017 Parts of a sprawling region of red-rock canyons in southern Utah known as Bears Ears National Monument and at least three other national monuments would lose their strict protection and could be reopened for new mining or drilling under proposals submitted to President Trump by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Along with Bears Ears, Mr. Zinke had proposed reducing the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, also in southern Utah, as well as Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. A fourth is presently unnamed. [cite]


Trump administration halts research on mountaintop removal’s health effects

August 21, 2017 The two-year project, “Potential Human Health Effects of Surface Coal Mining Operations in Central Appalachia,” began this year when an ad hoc committee of public health, mining, and earth science experts was brought together to “conduct a study to examine the potential relationship between increased health risks and living in proximity to sites that have been or are being mined or reclaimed for surface coal deposits,” according to a project description. Total funding for the project was $1 million over two years. [cite]


Trump Disbands a Federal Panel Aimed at Fighting Climate Change

August 20, 2017 The Trump administration has chosen to disband a federal advisory panel aimed at guiding public and private-sector officials in understanding the findings of the government’s reports on the climate. The 15-person Advisory Committee for Sustained National Climate Assessment, which is comprised of academics, industry, government and local officials, was established in 2015 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). [cite]


Trump to revoke Obama-era flood risk building standards

August 15, 2017 President Donald Trump will revoke an Obama-era executive order that required strict building standards for government-funded projects to reduce exposure to increased flooding from sea level rise. The Trump administration has issued dozens of rules and orders to reverse or rescind Obama-era regulations addressing climate change and its consequences such as rising sea levels and more severe storms. [cite]


Protected Under Obama, the Sage Grouse Once Again Finds Itself Under Threat

August 7, 2017 The Department of the Interior published new recommendations for how the government should regulate land where greater sage grouse live. The recommendations walk back protections set for the bird in 2015. The report suggests new policies on oil leasing and development on federal lands, allowing states to set their own population goals for sage grouse, and investigating whether to change or undo so-called “Sagebrush Focal Areas.” [cite]


Privatized campsites? Many fear prices could skyrocket

August 6, 2017 U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says government shouldn’t be in the business of running campgrounds, so he wants to turn national park campsites over to private businesses. A handful of companies already run campsites, lodging and concessions throughout the U.S. park system, but some fear widespread privatization could make recreation and camping prohibitively expensive in Western states. [cite]


Senate Logging Bill Attacks National Forest Protections, Wildlife

August 4, 2017 Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced legislation that would devastate America’s national forests by rubber-stamping large logging projects and severely limiting public comment and disclosure of environmental damage from unfettered logging. This bill is similar to Rep. Bruce Westerman’s bill (H.R. 2936), which also aims to significantly limit public input and scientific environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Thune’s bill would allow logging projects affecting up to 10,000 acres—15 square miles—to be rushed through without meaningful public involvement or scientific evaluation of potential harm to wildlife and the environment. [cite]


Homeland Security To Waive Environmental Rules On Border Wall Projects

August 1, 2017 The Department of Homeland Security announced that it will use its authority to bypass environmental laws and other regulations to “ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads” near the U.S.-Mexico border south of San Diego. By using the waiver, it would be able to avoid the legal requirement to complete an environmental impact study before building on public lands. In fact, the agency says it has “the authority to waive all legal requirements.” [cite]


Trump administration officially files to make it easier to frack public lands

July 24, 2017 The Department of the Interior intends to repeal an Obama-era rule designed to prevent fracking companies operating on public lands from polluting water supplies. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) submitted a proposed revocation to the Federal Register to wipe from the books a rule that required fracking operators on public lands to disclose chemicals used in fracking and to ensure certain precautions are taken around clean water sources. [cite]


Forest Service issues draft decision to OK use of National Forest System lands for pipeline

July 22, 2017 The U.S. Forest Service issued a draft record of decision to authorize the use and occupancy of National Forest System lands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and approve project-specific forest plan amendments for the Monongahela National Forest and George Washington National Forest. This allows the ACP to construct and operate 21 miles of the pipeline route that would cross National Forest System lands. [cite]


Interior orders review of rules that prohibit killing bear cubs and wolf pups with their mothers

July 21, 2017 The Trump administration has ordered a review of federal rules that prevent hunters from killing bears and wolves using techniques many people consider extreme: baiting the animals with greasy doughnuts, ambushing mothers with pups in dens and shooting them from boats while the bears are swimming. The action is separate from a March vote along party lines in Congress to rescind the Obama administration’s order late last year, which outlawed the prioritizing of prey over predators at 16 federal wildlife refuges in Alaska. [cite]


Interior Secretary Zinke’s latest gift to the oil and gas industry might be illegal

July 5, 2017 Attorneys general from California and New Mexico filed a lawsuit over Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s postponement of the Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste prevention rule. The suit holds that the Interior Department’s failure to implement the rule will cost California taxpayers substantial royalty payments and furthers the Trump administration’s attack on public health. [cite]


RIP, Clean Water Rule that protects the drinking water of 1 in 3 Americans

June 22, 2017 The Trump administration has officially begun repealing the Clean Water Rule, which was finalized by the Obama administration in 2015. The proposed repeal signals the first step in the Trump administration’s promise to rescind and rewrite the regulation. The Clean Water Rule was the Obama administration’s clarification of what exactly constitutes a “navigable” body of water, and it was largely based on an opinion from a 2006 Supreme Court decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [cite]


Yellowstone Grizzly Bear to Lose Endangered Species Protection

June 22, 2017 After 42 years on the endangered species list, the Yellowstone grizzly bear — whose numbers have grown to more than 700 from fewer than 150 — will lose its protected status, the Interior Department announced. The protection of endangered species is highly political, especially in the West. There are numerous proposals by Republicans to change the law, including a bill that would require congressional approval to add a species to the list. [cite]


Interior Secretary defends his plan to cut at least 4,000 staff

June 21, 2017 During his first week on the job, Zinke promised to “focus on rebuilding our parks,” but the administration’s proposed budget instead cuts the park service by almost $300 million. The park service’s own budget justification says that they would be forced to cut 1,242 full-time equivalent employees, a number that, in practice, could end up being much higher because many park rangers and other employees are seasonal or part-time. This would likely result in closed campgrounds and other facilities at a time when national park visitation is at an all-time high and is an economic boon to local communities. [cite]


Interior head says public lands can make U.S. a ‘dominant’ oil power

June 16, 2017 Boosting drilling and mining on America’s protected federal lands can help the United States become not just independent, but “dominant” as a global energy force, according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose agency manages about one-fifth of U.S. territory. [cite]


Trump Administration Cancels New Protection For Endangered Whales, Marine Mammals & Sea Turtles

June 12, 2017 It was announced that the United States government cancelled the proposed limits on the number of endangered whales, dolphins and sea turtles that can be injured or killed by gillnets on the West Coast. The now defunct rule would have applied to less than 20 fishing vessels that use monstrous fishing nets to catch swordfish in California and Oregon. [cite]


Ignoring governors, Interior Department looks to undo local conservation plans

June 8, 2017 Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signed a secretarial order launching a review of dozens of Western state conservation plans. The plans played a critical role in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s determination that the now iconic greater sage grouse did not need the protection of the Endangered Species Act and instead included local coalitions in the creation of tailored conservation plans. [cite]


Over resident opposition, Trump administration approves Atlantic blasting

June 5, 2017 The approval specifically allows “the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals” by five companies seeking to test the waters of the Atlantic for oil reserves. Seismic testing is a method for determining the composition of the ocean floor by tracking the reverberations of extremely loud sonic booms underwater. The practice is known to disrupt aquatic life, including fish, sea turtles, and mammals such as whales, and an “incidental take” permit is required. [cite]


Trump on Paris accord: ‘We’re getting out’

June 1, 2017 President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, a major step that fulfills a campaign promise while seriously dampening global efforts to curb global warming. The decision amounts to a rebuttal of the worldwide effort to pressure Trump to remain a part of the agreement, which 195 nations signed onto. Foreign leaders, business executives and Trump’s own daughter lobbied heavily for him to remain a part of the deal, but ultimately lost out to conservatives who claim the plan is bad for the United States. [cite]


EPA halts Obama-era methane emissions rule for oil and gas industry

May 31, 2017 The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency ordered a halt to an Obama-era rule created to reduce methane leaks from new and modified oil and natural gas drilling wells. Scientists have found that in the United States, methane leaks and venting have nullified any emissions benefit from transitioning the electricity sector from coal to natural gas-fired power plants. [cite]


House votes to undo pesticide protections for nation’s waterways

May 24, 2017 The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that dismantles a pesticide permitting system. Under the bill, anyone applying a pesticide that the Environmental Protection Agency has approved under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act would no longer require a Clean Water Act “general permit.” Pesticide manufacturers have long championed a bill similar to this one that would allow pesticides to be sprayed directly into water bodies. Opponents say Republican-led bill takes away the public’s right to know about pesticides. [cite]


The EPA just buried its climate change website for kids

May 6, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency has sidelined a website aimed at teaching schoolchildren about climate change as part of the agency’s efforts to align online content with the new administration’s values. The youth-oriented resource of more than 50 pages, which features educational videos and shows students how to calculate their own carbon footprint, has not been removed. But it is now very difficult for a casual reader to locate, even through a Google search. [cite]


BLM suspends Resource Advisory Council meetings as part of national review of committees

May 4, 2017 Following an order by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Bureau of Land Management has suspended public Resource Advisory Councils until September as part of a national review of the agency’s advisory boards and committees. At the very time they’re discussing major land management changes—eliminating monuments and increasing the pace of development—they’re also choosing to shutout stakeholders. The order affects more than 200 federal advisory bodies across the country. [cite]


EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades

April 28, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency announced that its website would be “undergoing changes” to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information. One of the websites that appeared to be gone had been cited to challenge statements made by the EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt. Another provided detailed information on the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan, including fact sheets about greenhouse gas emissions on the state and local levels and how different demographic groups were affected by such emissions. [cite]


Presidential Executive Order Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy

April 28, 2017 President Donald Trump, joined by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Members of Congress from coastal states, signed the America First Offshore Energy Executive Order. The order aims to expand offshore oil and gas exploration and production in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) through a review of the five-year leasing program and reconsideration of certain regulations pertaining to offshore energy potential. The order also directs the Secretary of the Interior to implement a streamlined permitting approach for privately funded seismic data collection to determine offshore energy resource potential. “I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities,” said Trump. [cite]


Trump to order review of Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante

April 24, 2017 President Donald Trump this week will order a review of national monument designations — including southern Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante — as part of a wide look at a century-old law that allows presidents to set aside federal lands without congressional approval. Trump will sign an executive order to demand that the Interior Department secretary examine all national monument designations in the past 21 years to discern whether their size and scope are within the law’s intent. [cite] EO signed by Trump April 27, 2017.


EPA Administrator Sends Clean Power Plan Guidance Letter to Governors

March 30, 2017 Fulfilling his promise of cooperative federalism and acting on President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt sent letters to state governors advising them that they are under no obligation to adhere to the Clean Power Plan (CPP) rule. [cite]


Trump’s EPA Chief Chooses Not to Ban Dow Chemical Pesticide

March 30, 2017 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected calls to ban one of the nation’s most widely used pesticides, which is manufactured by Dow Chemical and described by scientists as dangerous to the health of farm workers. Scientists allege that contact with chlorpyrifos (Lorsban), which has been used by farmers for decades to kill pests on crops and was prohibited for household use in 2000, poses risks to fetal brain and nervous system development and can lead to autism. [cite]


Trump just gutted U.S. policies to fight climate change

March 28, 2017 This executive order is more than just a repeal and rework of the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature domestic climate policy and Trump’s preferred scapegoat for the declining coal industry. The order also seeks to repeal rules regarding fracking on public lands, and coal leases on federal lands. It orders agencies to reconsider the Social Cost of Carbon and rescinds an Obama-era order requiring agencies to consider the impact of climate change in their environmental permitting process. And it undoes four executive actions meant to make the federal government — and communities — more prepared to handle the consequences of climate change. [cite]


Congress Makes It Legal To Shoot Hibernating Bear Families In Their Dens

March 21, 2017 The U.S. Senate voted 52-47 to allow barbaric hunting tactics such as killing hibernating bear families in their dens on 76 million acres of federal wildlife refuges in Alaska. The House passed the measure last month. Hunters will be able to legally enter bear and wolf dens to kill mothers and their young cubs and pups. Hunters will also be allowed to shoot bears from airplanes. Steel-jawed leghold traps will also be allowed on these national lands. [cite]


White House Budget Proposes Sweeping Cuts To EPA, Environmental Programs

March 16, 2017 The White House proposed steep, sweeping cuts to federal climate change initiatives, including axing the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent. It eliminates funding for regional cleanup efforts in the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay, for example, and defunds the Clean Power Plan, the federal government’s only major effort to reduce carbon emissions from the utility sector. [cite]


Interior Department to withdraw Obama-era fracking rule

March 15, 2017 The Trump administration plans to withdraw and rewrite a 2015 rule aimed at limiting hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” on public lands, the Interior Department indicated in court filings. The move represents the latest effort by the new administration to ease restraints on oil and gas production in the United States. [cite]


Trump’s plan to roll back Obama’s fuel economy rules for cars

March 15, 2017 Bit by bit, President Trump is starting to rewrite the multitude of policies the Obama administration put in place to fight global warming. Today’s target is a big one: the fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. At an event with automakers in Michigan, Trump is announcing that he’ll tell the EPA to redo Obama standards. They might try to relax the schedule for efficiency improvements. [cite]


EPA chief Scott Pruitt says carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming

March 9, 2017 EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said March 9th he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC. [cite]


Congress lets polluters dictate where drilling, mining happens

March 7, 2017 Americans are allowed to weigh in by attending public meetings to voice their concerns in person or send comments in to the agency creating a land management plan. This keeps fossil fuel interests in check, allowing us to preserve some of the more sacred and wild places that we have deemed “too wild to drill.” The repealing of this rule could gift the fate of our public lands to special interests, forever. [cite]


Trump’s interior secretary reverses ban on lead ammo on national wildlife refuges as his first official act

March 3, 2017 So much for sober-minded consultation, careful study of the data, and thoughtful analysis from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and other experts on his staff. Before the chair in his office was even warm, and just after he dismounted from his horse, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke undid a director’s order to phase out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle over the next five years on more than 150 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges and other agency lands and waterways. [cite]


EPA Scraps Rule Requiring Oil And Gas Industry To Report Methane Pollution

March 2, 2017 In May, the Environmental Protect Agency issued a new rule requiring oil and gas companies to report what equipment they use and how much methane ― a greenhouse gas 40 times more potent than carbon dioxide ― their drilling sites emit. Today, the agency’s newly sworn-in administrator, Scott Pruitt, scrapped this regulation deemed crucial to cutting planet-warming emissions as part of the Paris climate deal. [cite]


Trump begins dismantling Obama’s EPA rules. Step one: the Clean Water Rule

February 28, 2017 The Clean Water Rule is a technical regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency to clarify which streams and wetlands fall under federal clean water protections — a question that had been causing legal confusion for years. Now Donald Trump has signed an executive order that asks new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to begin the long process of repealing the rule and replacing it with… something else. [cite]


New EPA head takes action — delaying a mining clean-up rule

February 27, 2017 In one of his first acts of business, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt directed his new staff to delay an initiative that would require mining companies to prove they can clean up after themselves. The order would require companies to prove they will be able to clean up the damage caused by routine mining activities. The order was an effort to reduce liability to taxpayers and improve environmental practices at mines. [cite]


The NRA just persuaded Congress to legalize the killing of bear cubs in wildlife refuges

February 16, 2017 The U.S. House of Representatives voted Feb. 16, 2017 to legalize the killing of black bear cubs and their mothers at their dens in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges. The controversial measure, backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), overturns a ‘Fair Chase’ rule that limited baiting, trapping, and the use of airplanes to track and shoot bears and wolves on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands in Alaska. The vote was met with an outpouring of criticism from wildlife and conservation groups. [cite]


Why We Need the EPA

February 14, 2017 Let’s not forget what America looked like before we had the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Our rivers caught on fire, our air was full of smog, and it stank (literally). A collective memory lapse seems to have descended on lawmakers who seek to dismantle an agency that has transformed American life for the better. Since the EPA’s founding in 1970, concentrations of common air pollutants, like sulfur dioxide, have dropped as much as 67 percent. The EPA helped mitigate catastrophes like acid rain, leaded gasoline, and DDT. [cite]


Congress moves to restrict public input on public land planning

February 7, 2017 The House of Representatives voted to roll back a rule that gives local citizens a greater voice in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) planning process, a process that directs how 245 million acres of public land are utilized. Many local communities support the planning rule that the House voted to roll back, counting it as a tool to strengthen their voice in land use planning. [cite]


Congress’ repeal of Obama methane rule will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions

February 3, 2017 Congress voted to undo a measure that cuts air pollution, prevents the waste of taxpayer dollars, and curbs climate change-causing pollution. The Bureau of Land Management’s methane waste prevention rule limits venting, flaring, and leaking of methane — the main component in natural gas — from oil and gas operations on public lands. Repealing the rule is expected to result in the waste of $330 million in taxpayer-owned gas annually. [cite]


A Small Victory: Chaffetz Withdraws HR 621

February 1, 2017 An outcry was prompted in part by Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) introduction of a bill (HR 621) to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands — an area the size of Connecticut. February 1st Chaffetz announced that he was withdrawing the bill. Chaffetz had previously claimed that the millions of acres of public lands from 10 states that could be up for sale to private interests “serve no purpose for taxpayers,” an assertion that protesters, public lands advocates, and now Chaffetz himself dispute. [cite]


House votes to strike down Obama-era Stream Protection Rule

February 1, 2017 Regulators and environmentalists have said the rule helps protect waterways from the effects of mountaintop mining pollution and prevents negative health impacts for people living in those areas. But the coal industry — already suffering due to market conditions in the energy sector — says the rule will hurt companies and their employees. [cite]


Obama-era climate change information removed from State Department website

January 25, 2017 Various pages mentioning climate change have been removed from the State Department website, including pages outlining the United States’ contribution to the U.N. Green Climate Fund, a page detailing America’s commitment to making climate data available for both local and international partners, the State Department’s Climate Action Report, and an overview of the Global Climate Change Initiative. [cite]


What We Actually Lose When the USDA and EPA Can’t Talk to the Public

January 24, 2017 The EPA is now barred from communicating with the public by Donald Trump. That means no press releases, blogs, messages, or social media postings. Additionally, the US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees in its Agricultural Research Service division from sharing the results of its taxpayer-funded research with the broader public, another gag order from Trump. Scientific inquiry is meant to produce hard facts that the world can rely on. But the easiest way to make science lie is to keep the public from learning it. [cite]


Trump advances Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines with executive order

January 24, 2017 President Donald Trump has taken steps to advance construction on two oil pipeline projects that have been fiercely disputed and were delayed under his predecessor. Trump has signed an executive order that will make it easier for TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline and for Energy Transfer Partners to build the final uncompleted portion of the Dakota Access pipeline. [cite]


The first update to the new Trump White House website rolls back Clean Air and Water

January 20, 2017 For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution… We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. The Trump Administration is also committed to clean coal technology, and to reviving America’s coal industry. [cite]


GOP targets landmark Endangered Species Act for big changes

January 17, 2017 In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government’s most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities. Over the past eight years, GOP lawmakers sponsored dozens of measures aimed at curtailing the landmark law or putting species such as gray wolves and sage grouse out of its reach. Almost all were blocked by Democrats and the White House or lawsuits from environmentalists. [cite]


The House just made it a lot easier to sell off national parks

January 4, 2017 The House now officially values public lands at $0. A new rule, written by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), establishes as fact that any legislation to dispose of public lands and natural resources would cost taxpayers exactly $0. This paves the way for the new Congress to get rid of vast swaths of public lands — all at the expense of the American taxpayer. [cite]


Congress takes quick shot at transferring federal public lands to local interests

January 3, 2017 The 115th Congress got off to an eye-opening start on their very first day, voting in favor of facilitating transfers of some federal public lands and waters to state, local and private interests. The provision would designate any transfer legislation “budget neutral,” eliminating existing safeguards against undervaluing public lands, disregarding any revenue or economic benefits currently generated and paving the way for quick and discreet giveaways of valuable lands and waters – including national forests, wildlife refuges and BLM lands – historically owned by the American people. [cite]