ACTION ALERT: An Unprecedented Threat: Trump's Decision on the Paris Climate Accord
June 1, 2017
Michael Brune / EcoWatch & Ken Kimmell / The Union of Concerned Scientists & Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis / Washington Post
Donald Trump is about to announce whether he'll keep the US in the Paris Climate Agreement. It is abundantly clear that the Trump and his administration doesn't treat climate change as a real threat. He is willing to cede US leadership in the fight against climate change to other countries. That's why it is necessary to redouble our efforts to protect science -- and fight for science-based policies that protect us all.
'A Historic Mistake':
Trump Expected to Withdraw From Paris Agreement
Michael Brune / Sierra Club & EcoWatch
(May 31, 2017) -- It was widely reported this morning that Donald Trump intends to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement. According to the terms of the agreement, no country can begin the withdrawal process until three years after the agreement enters into force.
The agreement, which entered into force on Nov. 4, 2016, has been formally joined by more than 145 nations, and dozens of countries -- including India, China and the EU -- have reaffirmed their commitment.
A recent Yale Program on Climate Change Communication poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans, including a majority in all 50 states, support the US participating in the Paris agreement.
Donald Trump has made a historic mistake, which our grandchildren will look back on with stunned dismay at how a world leader could be so divorced from reality and morality. Trump has abandoned the standard of American leadership, turned his back on what the public and the market demand, and shamelessly disregarded the safety of our families just to let the fossil fuel industry eek out a few more dollars in profits.
This is a decision that will cede America's role internationally to nations like China and India, which will benefit handsomely from embracing the booming clean energy economy while Trump seeks to drive our country back into the 19th Century.
But the world should know that state and local action in the US is moving strongly forward even in the face of Trump's historic mistake.
For every terrible decision Trump makes, grassroots activists, frontline communities, local governments and concerned people across the country are fighting to make sure clean energy continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
With our allies, Sierra Club members and supporters have helped retire more than 250 polluting coal plants and ensured more than 25 American cities have already committed to getting 100 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2030.
Our resistance is sustainable and we will serve as a counterpoint to Trump's dangerous policies every step of the way. Like leaders across the world, we aren't going to wait around for our climate denier-in-chief to play catch up.
As we win locally, countries across the world are already moving forward on meeting and surpassing their climate commitments.
Make no mistake: the Paris agreement was adopted after decades of climate advocacy by concerned citizens across America and around the world, and it certainly will not be derailed by the ignorance of one man.
An Unprecedented Threat
Ken Kimmell / The Union of Concerned Scientists
(May 31, 2017) -- Un•pre•ce•den•ted, adj: Never before seen or done, unparalleled. cf. The Trump administration's disregard for science.
As we enter the fifth month of the Trump presidency, it might start feeling normal to see disappearing data and silenced scientists -- from the nine scientists effectively removed from the Environmental Protection Agency's Board of Scientific Counselors (clearing the way for replacement by industry representatives) to NASA's Earth Science division facing enormous funding cuts.¹
But this isn't normal, and we can't forget that. We must fight back. We're responding stronger and faster to attacks on science than ever before. Help lead the fight.
Here are the top 10 things UCS is doing to respond:
1. Deploying our network of half a million supporters to fight anti-science bills in Congress and state legislatures -- and keeping the pressure on swing votes.
2. Calling out and denouncing denial of science at all levels of government. When websites are removed, when politicians deceive the public, when industry talking points become law -- we're working overtime to call out the lies.
3. Defending the bedrock policies that safeguard our health and environment, like the Clean Water Act.
4. Taking science to the streets -- literally. We helped recruit thousands of scientists and advocates for the Peoples Climate March and March for Science.
5. Inviting scientists to step up and blow the whistle on political interference with scientific integrity, through our anonymous, encrypted system.
6. Ringing the alarm when scientists are silenced -- and making sure millions of people are aware of the threat -- through the media and the web.
7. Elevating the role of government science and organizing the "Thank a Government Scientist" initiative to demonstrate the public's support for government scientists at an incredibly scary and stressful time.
8. Continuing to fight for clean energy in the states, even if the federal government seems to want to move backward.
9. Supporting "data refuge" efforts to capture and save government-funded research that's in danger of disappearing from public view.
10. Training scientists and experts to become better advocates, with dozens of workshops, videos, and resources.
Thanks for standing up for science when it matters most.
Ken Kimmell is the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists
EPA Dismisses Half of its Scientific Advisers on
Key Board, Citing 'Clean Break' with Obama Administration
Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis / Washington Post
WASHINGTON (May 7, 2017) -- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the agency evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.
The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA's key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.
EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that "no one has been fired or terminated," and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.
"We're not going to rubber-stamp the last administration's appointees. Instead, they should participate in the same open competitive process as the rest of the applicant pool," Freire said. "This approach is what was always intended for the Board, and we're making a clean break with the last administration's approach."
But the move came as a surprise to members of the board, who had been informed both in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members, that they would be kept on for another term.
"I was kind of shocked to receive this news," Robert Richardson, an ecological economist and an associate professor at Michigan State University's Department of Community Sustainability, said in an interview Sunday.
Richardson, who tweeted on Saturday, "Today, I was Trumped," said that he was at the end of an initial three-year term on the board, but that board members traditionally have served two such stints. "I've never heard of any circumstance where someone didn't serve two consecutive terms," he added.
Courtney Flint, a professor of natural resource sociology at Utah State University who had served one term on the board, said in an email that she was also surprised to learn that her term would not be renewed, "particularly since I was told that such a renewal was expected."
"In the broader view, I suppose it is the prerogative of this administration to set the goals of federal agencies and to appoint members to advisory boards," she added.
The terms of at least 12 members of the board ended April 27, according to a federal database, making them eligible for replacement.
Ryan Jackson, Pruitt's chief of staff, noted in an email that all the board members whose terms are not being renewed could reapply for their positions.
"I'm not quite sure why some EPA career staff simply get angry by us opening up the process," he said. "It seems unprofessional to me."
Pruitt is planning a much broader overhaul of how the agency conducts its scientific analysis, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The administration has been meeting with academics to talk about the matter and putting thought into which areas of investigation warrant attention from the agency's scientific advisers.
The agency may consider industry scientific experts for some of the board positions, Freire said, as long as these appointments do not pose a conflict of interest.
Conservatives have complained about EPA's approach to science, including the input it receives from outside scientific bodies, for years. Both the Board of Scientific Counselors and a larger, 47-person Scientific Advisory Board have come under criticism for bolstering the cause for greater federal regulation.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who questions the link between human activity and climate change and has several former aides now working for Pruitt, said in an interview earlier this year that under the new administration, "They're going to have to start dealing with science and not rigged science" at EPA.
House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, held a hearing on the issue in February, arguing that the composition of the Scientific Advisory Board, which was established in 1978, should be expanded to include more non-academics. It is primarily made up of academic scientists and other experts who review EPA's research to ensure that the regulations the agency undertakes have a sound scientific basis.
"The EPA routinely stacks this board with friendly scientists who receive millions of dollars in grants from the federal government," Smith said at the time. "The conflict of interest here is clear."
In a budget proposal obtained by The Washington Post last month, the panel is slated for an 84 percent cut -- or $542,000 -- from its operating budget. That money typically covers travel and other expenses for outside experts who attend the board's public meetings.
The reasoning behind the budget cut, said the document, reflects "an anticipated lower number of peer reviews."
The Washington Post's Chris Mooney contributed to this report.
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