Author: Alexander C. Kaufman

Republican Running For Open Montana House Seat Doubles Down On Creationist Stance

THE HUFFINGTON POST Greg Gianforte, the tech millionaire running for the Montana congressional seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, doubled down on his stance rejecting the theory of evolution in a radio interview aired Monday. Asked three times by a Montana Public Radio host if he believes biological species developed through natural selection over time, the Republican repeated a straightforward, if vague, response. “I personally believe, as many Montanans do, that God created the Earth,” Gianforte, who made a failed bid in November for the Montana governor’s mansion, said in the 15-minute interview. “I believe that God created...

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Democrats Are Preparing A Bill To Completely Wean The U.S. Off Fossil Fuels By 2050

THE HUFFINGTON POST Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) plans to introduce legislation later this month outlining how the United States can completely wean itself off fossil fuels by 2050, his office told The Huffington Post. The senator plans to introduce the bill the week of April 24, shortly before the People’s Climate Movement, an annual protest for action on global warming that is expected to draw thousands of people to rallies across the country. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will co-sponsor the bill, called the “100 By ‘50 Act.” “With an anti-science Congress and president in power right now, some might doubt...

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For Hard-Liners, Even The Trump EPA Isn’t Doing Enough To Undermine Climate Science

THE HUFFINGTON POST Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt ― the former Oklahoma attorney general who made his name by suing the agency more than a dozen times and says he does not agree that human activity is a primary contributor to global warming ― isn’t even enough of a hard-line climate change denier for some players in President Donald Trump’s administration. A schism is brewing within the administration over what to do about a somewhat-obscure EPA ruling that, for the last eight years, has been the bedrock of policy to fight global warming: the scientific conclusion that greenhouse...

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Donald Trump Promised ‘Clean Coal,’ But It Doesn’t Exist

THE HUFFINGTON POST Flanked by coal miners, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday rolling back regulations that have dogged coal executives but have also provided them a convenient scapegoat for layoffs and bankruptcies that had little connection to environmental rules. Yet, even though coal barons admitted it wouldn’t happen, Trump vowed to bring coal roaring back, with just the stroke of his pen. Not only did this executive order mark the start of a second act for an anemic industry, Trump said that this time things would be different. “My administration is putting an end to the...

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New Exxon Mobil CEO Echoes Rex Tillerson’s Skepticism On Climate Science

  Darren Woods, the new chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp., mirrored his predecessor’s skeptical view on climate change in his first interview since taking over at the oil and gas giant. Woods, who was promoted to CEO last month when Rex Tillerson stepped down to become secretary of state, acknowledged that unmitigated global warming poses risks that can’t be ignored. But he stopped short of recognizing emissions from burning fossil fuels as the chief cause. “We understand there’s action needed to address the risk associated with that,” Woods said in a glowing 2,200-word profile published Monday morning by Forbes. Under Tillerson, Exxon Mobil reversed decades of company policy by recognizing that the climate is indeed changing. In 2009, the Texas-based firm publicly backed putting a tax on carbon, a move that some saw as a distraction from congressional debate over a cap-and-trade bill. In 2015, the company supported the Paris climate agreement, the first global deal to cut greenhouse gases that included the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest polluters. Yet as recently as 2016, Exxon Mobil was still paying millions to groups that either question fossil fuels’ role in climate change or deny the science outright. During the last two election cycles, the firm donated heavily to Republicans, who remain one of the only major political parties in the world to question climate science. Anti-climate hawks Rep. Lamar...

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EPA Chief Scott Pruitt’s Allies Move To Block Release Of More Emails

The Oklahoma attorney general’s office has asked the state’s highest court to block the release of more emails between energy companies and Scott Pruitt, the state’s former top cop who became Environmental Protection Agency chief. The initial batch of 7,564 documents made public on Tuesday by the Wisconsin-based watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy revealed a chummy relationship between Pruitt and oil and gas players whose pollution he’s now tasked with policing as the nation’s top environmental regulator. Now the office that Pruitt occupied until the Senate approved his confirmation last Friday has requested a stay on District Court of Oklahoma County Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons’ order to release another trove of documents by next week. “This maneuver is just more stonewalling by Team Pruitt to prevent the American people from seeing public records of national interest that should have been turned over prior to Pruitt’s confirmation as head of the EPA,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, in a statement. “Pruitt’s office had many months to provide his emails with corporate polluters, but is now complaining they don’t have enough time.” The Oklahoma Supreme Court will consider the stay request at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday. If the court declines the request, the attorney general’s office has until March 3 to release the documents. President Donald Trump filled his Cabinet with...

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Nobody Seems To Have Liked Working For Donald Trump’s New Labor Pick

WASHINGTON ― In 2014, R. Alexander Acosta, President Donald Trump’s second pick for U.S. secretary of labor, became a top candidate to lead the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. But after the interview process began, faculty at the school rejected the former U.S. attorney and assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, citing ethical concerns and questions about his ties to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a tea party favorite who has railed against what he calls “liberal academic theorists.” “We had a number of concerns to start off with,” Michelle Jacobs, a distinguished professor of law at the school who helped lead the inquiry, told The Huffington Post. “In the end, we weren’t comfortable with him.” If confirmed, Acosta would lead more than 17,000 employees as secretary of labor, a position meant to protect the rights of American workers. The Labor Department was established in 1913 ― two years after the infamous fire at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory left 146 people dead ― following decades of bloody clashes between workers and industry barons. As secretary, Acosta would be tasked with improving wages, benefits and working conditions for U.S. workers, and administering more than 180 federal laws and thousands of regulations. But his record during the Bush administration raises major questions about Acosta’s ability to oversee the proper enforcement of labor laws and regulations. Acosta’s...

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Donald Trump’s Interior Pick Compares Oil Drilling To Hunting And Fishing

When President-elect Donald Trump nominated Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to become interior secretary, the freshman congressman’s record as a lifelong hunter and fisher became a major selling point. He sold himself as a Theodore Roosevelt fanboy. Environmental groups that vehemently opposed other nominees took a softer tone on Zinke, who one activist said was the “most balanced” Cabinet pick yet. That’s why one remark Zinke made during his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday struck such a dissonant chord. First, he railed against federal land designations that make it harder for outdoorsmen to access traditional hunting and fishing grounds, which he said makes the sports elitist. Then he compared shooting a deer or hooking a trout to drilling deep underground to extract fuel. “There are some areas that need to be set aside that are absolutely appropriate for man to be an observer, and I think there are special places in our country that deserve that recognition,” he said. “But a lot of it is traditional uses of what we find in North Dakota and Montana, where you can hunt, you can fish, you can drill an oil well.” Much of the hearing focused on federal control over public lands, as Republican senators urged Zinke to reverse conservation efforts carried out by President Barack Obama. Zinke said his top priority would be restoring good relations with state officials who felt...

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