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EPA staff told to prepare for Trump executive orders: sources

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

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

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

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

Trump administration officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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

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Trump has also expressed doubts about the science behind climate change and promised during his campaign to pull the United States out of a global pact to combat it. Since his election in November, he has softened that stance, saying he would keep an “open mind” to the climate accord.

Trump’s pick to run the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is scheduled to face a Senate confirmation vote on Friday, according to a Senate aide, after a contentious hearing last month in which lawmakers pressed Pruitt on his ties to the oil industry. Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times to block its regulations while he was the top prosecutor for the oil and gas producing state.

Trump and Pruitt’s positions have worried EPA staff, who are concerned the new administration will cut the EPA’s budget, critical programs and scientific research.

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Some Republican lawmakers, emboldened by Trump’s election, have raised pressure on the EPA in recent days.

On Tuesday, Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, asked the EPA’s inspector general to investigate whether EPA staff were using encrypted messages to coordinate efforts to derail the new administration’s agenda, in possible violation of federal records laws.

Earlier this month, Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced a 45-word bill to “terminate” the EPA – a piece of legislation that is not expected to pass.

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(Reporting by David Shepardson, Timothy Gardner and Richard Valdmanis)


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Trump ‘specifically pressured the president of Ukraine’: WSJ reporter explains bombshell report

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MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace on Friday interviewed one of the reporters behind a bombshell story on President Donald Trump and his interactions with Ukraine that are at the center of the whistleblower scandal.

"President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter," The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Images from global climate strikes show city streets packed with millions of people

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This Friday, millions of people around the world are skipping school and work to demand action on climate change. According to reports, "global climate strikes" are currently taking place in over 150 countries, all designed to take place ahead of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly and the Climate Action Summit this coming Monday.

Images coming out of New York City alone show the massive scale of the protests. Tweeting from the NYC march, climate activist Greta Thunberg said that "lower Manhattan is absolutely packed with people."

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WATCH: Barbara McQuade explains how she jailed mayor of Detroit — for same thing Trump did

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On Thursday, it was revealed that a whistleblower in the intelligence community has submitted a complaint about President Donald Trump's conduct with a foreign leader.

There was widespread speculation Friday on the nature of the complaint, but experts suspect it has to do with the president trying to extract opposition research on Joe Biden from the president of Ukraine. Recently, Trump's lawyer and friend Rudy Giulani traveled to the country to unearth dirt on Biden's son.

And experts are concerned that Trump promised the foreign leader a better relationship with the U.S. in exchange.

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