Republicans are trying to weaken a federal board that helps minority and low-income communities challenge how much pollution can be released in their neighborhoods by power plants and factories.
The Environmental Appeals Board would be stripped of its ability to hear appeals of EPA-issued pollution permits from citizens, states, cities and Native American tribes. Businesses that hold permits could still ask the board to allow them to increase how much pollution is released.
“These changes would allow polluters to better game the system to the detriment of public health and the environment,” said Tim Whitehouse, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
Former EPA administrator William Reilly created the board in 1992 under the first President Bush. The board has four environmental appeals judges and decided 578 permit appeals in the past 26 years. Fewer than 1% of the board decisions have been reversed by the courts.
“This is outrageous,” said Richard Lazarus, an environmental law professor at Harvard. “Individuals in communities will lose a way to seek relief from pollution that has historically been very effective. But industry will still be able to seek relief to pollute more.”
The big winner in this would be the oil and gas industry.
Recent decisions include a case brought by Emerson Addison, an unemployed English teacher in Michigan who filed an appeal with the board over plans by the Muskegon Development Co. to inject water in a defunct oil well to improve efforts to get oil from other wells.
The board found that the EPA failed to present any evidence of how it considered harm to low-income and minority people in writing the permit in Clare County, Mich.
In 2016, PEER won new restrictions on discharging fracking fluids into a stream on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The EPA hadn’t even required the oil fields to list what chemicals were being discharged.
Gutting the board’s power would undermine safeguards for poor or minority areas that suffer disproportionately from pollution. Under the plan, these low-income communities would be forced to file a federal lawsuit to protect themselves.
The proposal would also weaken clean air protections for parks, wilderness and other natural areas from nearby powerplants or other pollution, according to PEER.
“Gutting the Environmental Appeals Board is a classic example of foisting a fix on an institution that is not broken,” Whitehouse said.
Is it an impeachment inquiry, an investigation or something else?
There has been a gymnastic drama going on in the Capitol, where fans of impeaching Donald Trump and those who think that process is not the best way to confront the president are writhing in definitional arm-wrestling.
Weirdly, any value you might assign to the actual words used, you can expect a lot more confrontational congressional committees towards Trump’s White House in the next weeks. Those hearings may or may not add up to impeachment efforts, which has been true until now, of course.
The House Judiciary Committee, newly driven by the extraordinary efforts to land government meetings at Trump properties and to promise pardons for illegal acts to promote his agenda, has wanted to broaden the basis for impeachment, essentially to argue that profiting from the presidency is unconstitutional.
Trump is all for preventing unintentional suicides — but not intentional homicides of Americans
How revealing that just six deaths from vaping prompted Donald Trump to move Wednesday against e-cigarettes, while at least 276 deaths in massacres since he took office haven’t prompted any presidential move against assault rifles and other guns.
Even applying the twisted logic of the Second Amendment absolutists, Trump’s action is surprising since e-cigarettes don’t kill, people who vape kill.
Vapers kill only themselves, while people firing military-style assault rifles and other guns massacre innocents—school children, people at prayer in houses of worship, shoppers in malls and concert-goers.
Longtime Fox News producer: ‘I can’t tell you how unpopular Trump is here’
Does Fox News need President Donald Trump? Or does President Trump need Fox News? If former Fox News strongman and Trump supporter, the late Roger Ailes, were still running the network, those questions might never come up.
But as Trump himself tweeted in June after Fox reported that Trump was trailing five presidential candidates in the polls, “Something weird is going on at Fox News.”
True enough – and Trump seems unable to stop it. And it’s not just that his longtime ally Rupert Murdoch turned the leadership of Fox over to his son Lachlan last year. “I can’t tell you how unpopular Trump is here,” a longtime Fox News producer told DCReport, “and people are getting bolder about saying so.”