President Trump’s imposition of tariffs on imported solar panels is hard to reconcile with current energy trends, which indicate a booming market in renewable energy. The National Geographic 2017 film From the Ashes cited 425,000 jobs in that sector, far more than in coal, Trump’s favorite fuel. His act seems inexplicable unless he’s still campaigning rather than governing; the coal states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, and Ohio helped send Trump to the White House and he probably thinks they’ll do it again. His self-centered loyalties demonstrate a willful indifference to coal as the leading source of carbon emissions and air and water pollutants. As a West Virginia native my experience of coal as an economic force and environmental disaster is vivid. I remember climbing to the top of the mountainous pile of coal in the basement “bin,” and experiencing its ability to blacken everything it touched, including me. I remember my railroader-worker grandfather’s slow death in our house from lung disease. From the Ashesreports that between four and 17 tons of coal dust blow into the environment during an average train trip. According to the American Lung Association coal plant particulates kill about 7,500 Americans every year.

Politico notes that fewer than 1/3 of Americans support Trump’s approach to environmental policy. Congress could counteract regressive Federal Administration policies by legislating a carbon tax on fossil fuels. The version of this tax plan supported by Citizen’s Climate Lobby is revenue neutral – 100% of the net revenue will be returned directly to households. CCL’s carbon fee and dividend plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 52% below 1990 levels within 20 years while growing the economy and saving lives. We need to pressure Congress to reject Trump’s black future for this country by voting in a tax on carbon.

Trump’s latest profiteer/plunderer cheerleader – Kathleen Hartnett-White chosen to lead the Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality.

Issue: Hartnett-White was re-nominated by Trump last week to lead the CEQ. The full senate could be voting on the Hartnett-White nomination in the next several weeks. Harnett-White is an oil industry tool who is capable of denying science in weirdly creative ways. Email Toomey and Casey to vote NO on Hartnett-White’s nomination to lead the Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality.

Email:  As head of the Council on Environmental Quality, Hartnett White would be in charge of coordinating interagency science, climate, and environmental policy and would oversee things such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process and agency compliance with that law.
Do not vote to confirm Kathleen Hartnett White, the reasons are listed below and speak for themselves. A vote for Kathleen Hartnett White would be an act of bad faith in science and a refutation of our current undeniable climate crisis in order to serve your fossil fuel donors.
– KHW has an educational background in religious studies and believes, via the Texas Public Policy Foundation Fueling Freedom Project that there is a “forgotten moral case for fossil fuel.”
– She seeks, through the Fueling Freedom project, to end the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant.
– She believes, as a member of the CO2 Coalition, that increased CO2 is beneficial for life on Earth.
– She argues against a shift to renewable energy in her book Fueling Freedom.
– As leader of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, she voted to construct a new coal plant near Dallas despite opposition from mayors and officials in 24 cities and counties.
– When the coal plant’s pollution controls were found to be insufficient, Harnett White argued that the plant owner was “under no obligation to prove its pollution controls would work.”
– Under her direction of the TCEQ, limits on radiation levels in drinking water were lowered, in defiance of EPA rules.
– Writing in The Hill, Hartnett White said: “Renewables are a false hope that simply won’t work.” and “[I]ntermittent renewables are parasitic on back-up power from reliable fossil fuels” 
– She later describes climate change policies as a “civilizational threat,” and claims that “All the climate policies to date are futile.” “President Obama and his lieutenants repeatedly said that the greatest global civilizational threat is the threat of man-made global warming, in his views caused by fossil fuels” she said.
“I submit that climate policies, not fossil fuels nor CO2 is actually a civilizational threat. That’s what the book [Fueling Freedom] has kind of been about.”

Information above is from

Background: Hartnett-White directs the Armstrong Center for Energy & Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). TPPF is part of the State Policy Network, a network of conservative think tanks across the country largely funded by Koch-backed dark money groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. TPPF has received over $3.7 million from Donors Capital Fund and DonorsTrust, as well as almost $900,000 from the Koch-backed Claude R. Lambe and Charles G. Koch foundations and $100,000 from ExxonMobil.

This woman makes it up as she goes. Hartnett-White told POLITICO in an interview that rather than listen to the conclusions of the world’s foremost climate science experts as summarized in the IPCC reports, she favors a commission that would develop an “alternative scientific methodology” and would include the voices of the less than 3% of climate scientists who reject the consensus on human-caused global warming.

Hartnett-White touted the supposed “environmental benefits” of fossil fuels — and carbon pollution — in a 2015 column for conservative website “No matter how many times, the President, EPA and the media rant about “dirty carbon pollution,” there is no pollution about carbon itself! As a dictionary will tell you, carbon is the chemical basis of all life. Our flesh, blood and bones are built of carbon. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the gas of life on this planet, an essential nutrient for plant growth on which human life depends. How craftily our government has masked these fundamental realities and the environmental benefits of fossil fuels!”

Additionally, Rolling Stone reported that a state auditor report found Hartnett-White consistently failed to hold polluters accountable for breaking the law when she chaired the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality:

Luke Metzger, director of the non-profit Environment Texas, has spent years going head-to-head with the Texas Environmental Quality Commission. As chair, Hartnett-White “embodied the philosophy at the agency, which was to put the interests of big polluters ahead of public health and the environment,” Metzger tells Rolling Stone.

He cites a 2003 state auditor report finding that TEQC under Hartnett-White consistently failed to hold violators accountable for breaking its laws, applied fines that amounted to only about 40 percent of the profits the companies made breaking the law, and introduced policies that weakened its own regulations.

Background information above from:

Drilling more wells, this time in the oceans

Issue:  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on January 5, 2018, that 90% of the country’s coastal waters are now being considered for oil & gas drilling. The move reverses an Obama-era ban on drilling in U.S. coastal waters, as well as bans on offshore drilling in California and the Atlantic that go back decades. Submit your comment on this issue here.

Background text from the Sierra Club: In 2016, over 3.3 million people submitted public comments opposing the 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, and thousands of people attended public meetings to show their support for protecting our oceans, coasts, and climate. The draft proposal for 2019 to 2024 completely ignores what the public overwhelmingly supports — no offshore drilling. This decision also ignores permanent protections that exist for the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

The previous administration did not propose drilling in the Pacific Ocean due to the steadfast opposition of western coastal states. Proposals for drilling in the Atlantic and the Arctic oceans were also dropped due to overwhelming opposition. This is true even in Republican-led states, like North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, where 90% of coastal cities passed resolutions against offshore drilling and/or seismic testing. Similarly, Shell gave up its plans to pursue oil in the Arctic because of the strong public opposition, extreme costs, risks, and difficulty of doing so.

The huge red-alarm elephant in the room on all media reporting regarding 45’s administrative attempts to give it all up to their BFFs (big fossil fuel) is that new drilling is going to ruin any good future for humans on earth, see text below:

Notes based on 2016 article by Bill McKibben:

Late 2016 math* on how much CO2 is currently available from coal, oil, and gas wells currently in operation: 942 gigatons.
There is a broad scientific consensus** that only 800 gigatons of CO2 can be released into the atmosphere to have a 2/3rd chance of staying below a 2 deg. Celsius increase in global temperature.

942 billion tons of CO2 in operating wells > 800 billion ton limit to keep below 2.0 deg. increase

COP 21 (the United Nations Climate Change Conference) aimed to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Bill McKibben’s late 2016 article used 353 gigatons as the then-current CO2 budget necessary to stay within a 1.5 degree Celsius limit.**

942 billion tons of Co2 in operating wells > 353 billion ton limit to keep below 1.5 deg. increase

McKibben: “In the United States alone, the existing mines and oil wells and gas fields contain 86 billion tons of carbon emissions—enough to take us 25 percent of the way to a 1.5 degree rise in global temperature.”
|These numbers have shifted since late 2016, but the dynamic between fossil fuels in operating wells and allowable carbon budget has not shifted.

*Based on a report by Oil Change International, a Washington-based think tank, using data from the Norwegian energy consultants Rystad.

** IPCC, Global Carbon Project

Current Status: From EENews: Opponents include the governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington; more than 150 coastal municipalities; and an alliance of more than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families.
It will take at least a year before any final decisions about leasing areas are finalized, the agency said. It noted that areas can be removed from the five-year plan, but not added. The release of the draft on Jan. 5 kicks off a 60-day public comment period. BOEM has scheduled 23 public meetings to gather in-person comment and will have to conduct a full environmental assessment.


The people who President Trump has chosen to surround himself with – Secretary of the Interior Zinke, Secretary of State Tillerson, EPA chief Pruitt, fracking billionaire Harold Hamm, Peabody Energy chief Gregory Boyce, etc., etc., promote themselves as great wealth creators. But the energy policies pushed by these administration industry insiders and industry moguls are crimes. These individuals and their co-conspirators are guilty of reckless profiteering as well as plundering. There is no safe oil-exploration path for the fossil fuel industries promoted by this administration to follow.

The American people successfully defeated the attempts of the last administration to plunder coastal waters. In 2015 Obama took steps to open up the Atlantic coastal waters to the oil industry. In 2015-2016, over 3.3 million people submitted public comments opposing the 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, and thousands of people attended public meetings to show their support for protecting our oceans, coasts, and climate. The Atlantic magazine reported that one Pawleys Island, SC, resident, Peg Howell, helped to sound the alarm. A former manager of the daily operation of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, Howell knows that “pollution and harming the ocean environment was part of the cost of extracting oil and gas.” She followed the Deepwater Horizon accident and saw how British Petroleum did not take immediate responsibility for the environmental devastation. She stated “the oil business forever changes the environment, it forever changes the nature of work, it forever changes how people actually live in a place.”

Citizens and environmentalists won the Atlantic coast battle in 2015. The Obama administration offered new leases only in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan coast.

Now, again, we must fight to keep coastal waters from transformation into fossil fuel sacrifice zones.

The scientific consensus is that no new wells can be drilled if global warming is to be kept under two degrees Celsius. Access to coastal drilling means new expensive exploration followed by local ecological devastation and long term climate disaster.

As Bill McKibben explains, as of 2016 we had 942 billion tons of CO2 in operating wells. There is broad consensus (IPCC) that approximately 800 billion tons of CO2, extracted and dispersed into the atmosphere, is the limit to keep below a 2.0 deg. Celsius increase in temperature.

And 2.0 deg. Celsius is too much.

In order to limit extreme climate disaster, the 2016 COP22 conference determined that a global average temperature of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius will have catastrophic consequences for much of the world’s population. McKibben explains that only 353 billion tons of CO2 can be released into the atmosphere to meet that limit.

The United States alone already has 86 billion tons worth of carbon emissions in its existing mines, oil wells, and gas fields.

Climate science math is hard to translate into everyday concerns. But its logic is irrefutable; allowing the willful blindness of fossil fuel corporations freedom to continue business as usual will destroy the world we know.




November 2017 Action Lists

11.20.2017 STATE ACTION

Issue: Governor Wolf must act to support and ensure enforcement of new methane emission regulations first proposed in 2016 as part of the Pennsylvania Climate Change Action Plan.

Current Status: The DEP’s air quality general permits GP-5 and GP-5a, which impose methane best practice leak detection and repair on drill sites, have long passed an extended public comment period. Industry friendly legislators have fought these new regulations with SB175, which has been in committee for months, and by attempts to weaken methane regulations through budget riders, which have so far not been imposed.
From a recent LTE by Dr. Peterson, “About 1.5 MILLION Pennsylvanians live within a half-mile radius of oil and gas development. The health consequences of this are being increasingly documented. We know it can affect infant brain development, increase respiratory problems including asthma, and cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel disease), and contamination– not only of the air but drinking water also. Methane is also a leading cause of climate change being 86 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in its first 20 years after its release. Subsidies for this industry from our government do not help pay for the health and economic toil on each of us.”

Script: Governor Wolf, in 2016 you committed to take action with the DEP to reduce methane emissions. As 2017 comes to a close and PA is still being poisoned by massive cumulative methane leaks, at over 100,000 active oil and gas facilities across the state, your commitment has not been forgotten. Now is the time to put new rules in place to eliminate methane emissions.


Shale Law in the Spotlight: DEP Addresses Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Reduction Strategy

Methane Emissions from Shale Industry Rise

11.20.2017 FEDERAL

Issue: Michael Dourson, an industry-friendly toxicologist nominated to lead the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Current Status: Michael Dourson’s deep ties to the chemical industry have sparked widespread concern about his ability to lead the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the nation’s top regulator of toxic chemicals. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have announced that they oppose his confirmation. One more Republican vote could remove him from consideration. Dourson would be in a position to make decisions affecting chlorpyrifos, just one of the pesticides he’s been paid to research, which can cause memory, intelligence, attention, and motor problems in children. Based on numerous studies that found that very low doses of the pesticide can harm children’s brains, the EPA proposed banning chlorpyrifos in 2016. In research paid for by Dow, the manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, Dourson came up with a safety threshold that was some 5,000 times less protective than what the EPA recommended for children between the ages of one and two.

Script for Senator Toomey: MIchael Dourson, proposed lead of the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, has repeatedly issued standards on behalf of the chemical manufacturers that put public health at risk. Safety from noxious chemicals is a concern of all of us and Dourson is not our choice for this position. I urge you to vote no on Dourson’s nomination.


The Hill

Public poll

The Intercept


11.30.2017 Lancaster’s Environment Action List

11.09.2017 Lancaster’s Environment Action List