Archive for the ‘trump administration’ Category

Whistleblower warns of “darkest winter” if Trump admin ignores science

May 13th, 2020
Rick Bright speaking at a congressional hearing in 2018.

Enlarge / Rick Bright, then-deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response for Health and Human Services (HHS), speaks during a House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Thursday, March 8, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Whistleblower Rick Bright plans to tell Congress that "2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history" if the United States ignores warnings from scientists that it's too early to fully reopen the economy.

Bright, who led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) until he says Trump administration officials forced him out of his position, is scheduled to testify tomorrow at a House hearing on the topic of "protecting scientific integrity in the COVID-19 response." Bright's written testimony was posted online today by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, which is holding the hearing.

Bright wrote:

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Posted in Policy, rick bright, trump administration, Whistleblower | Comments (0)

Here’s the Trump admin’s pathetic new fuel efficiency rule for 2026

March 31st, 2020
Here’s the Trump admin’s pathetic new fuel efficiency rule for 2026

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

If proof were needed that the Trump administration never met an environmental regulation it didn't want to eviscerate, on Tuesday morning the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published final fuel efficiency rules for new passenger cars and light trucks for model years 2021 through 2026. As has been widely anticipated, the EPA and NHTSA have gutted plans established in 2012 to make the nation's fleet of vehicles more fuel-efficient.

Under the old rules, automakers had to get their fleets to an average of 46.7mpg (5l/100km) by MY2025. As of today, even that not-very-ambitious target is toast. Instead, the US government is only requiring the industry to achieve an average of 40.4mpg (5.8l/100km) by MY2026. Fleet-wide CO2 targets have been similarly watered down; by that same model year, the US passenger vehicle and light truck fleet must meet an average of 199g CO2/mile (124g/km). By contrast, new European Union rules that went into effect this year require EU fleet averages to drop below 153g/mile (95g/km), with massive fines in store for automakers that fail.

As continues to be the case, the rules are based on the footprint of a vehicle, with large trucks and SUVs being held to an even weaker standard. As long as a MY2026 pickup or SUV can meet 34.1mpg (6.9l/100km) and emit no more than 240g/mile (150g/km) of carbon dioxide, that's enough to satisfy the new regulations.

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Posted in carbon dioxide, cars, climate change, EPA, fuel economy, NHTSA, Policy, science, trump administration | Comments (0)

Trump administration says employers can ban organizing via company email

December 18th, 2019
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seal hangs inside a hearing room at the headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Enlarge / The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seal hangs inside a hearing room at the headquarters in Washington, D.C. (credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Employers can ban employees from using work email for personal purposes, including union organizing, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on Monday. The board's three Trump-appointed members voted for the rule, which overturned an Obama-era rule reaching the opposite conclusion. The NLRB's lone Democratic member, Lauren McFerran, dissented from the decision.

Federal labor law protects employees' right to organize without interference from employers. That includes a limited right to engage in organizing activities in the workplace. For example, an off-duty employee has a right to distribute union literature in an employee break room or the parking lot.

Labor-rights advocates have long argued that this principle should extend to workplace email systems. They point out that email can be one of the most efficient ways for workers to contact one another and discuss workplace issues. And they note that the costs to employers from added email use is negligible.

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Posted in nlrb, Policy, trump administration | Comments (0)

White House backing off efficiency standard it’s suing over, report says

November 1st, 2019
Traffic moves through an interchange along Interstate 580 on July 25, 2019 in Oakland, California.

Enlarge / Traffic moves through an interchange along Interstate 580 on July 25, 2019 in Oakland, California. (credit: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images)

The White House is apparently blinking in a contentious lawsuit over fuel efficiency standards, leaving a number of major automakers that had backed the administration in an awkward position.

The administration is considering abandoning a rule that would freeze fuel efficiency requirements at 2020 levels and instead replacing it with a rule that would require fleetwide improvements of about 1.5% per year, The Wall Street Journal reports today.

The move is the latest twist in a long and complicated standoff that began basically as soon as the Trump administration did. The man himself promised on the campaign trail to gut the Environmental Protection Agency and roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. The chain of events so far has led to a faceoff among automakers, as Honda, Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW back more stringent guidelines out of California, and General Motors, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, and Kia stand with the White House against the rule.

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Posted in California, emissions, EPA, Policy, trump administration | Comments (0)

Trump admin. announces plan to kill 2016 methane emissions limits

August 29th, 2019
Flame rises from the tip of a skeletal tower.

Enlarge / In some cases, stray methane is burned to limit how much escapes into the atmosphere. (credit: Lawrence Berkeley Lab)

The Trump administration today announced a new proposal to reverse Obama-era regulations that limit how much methane, a potent greenhouse gas, the oil and natural gas industries are allowed to emit.

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed amendments would "remove unnecessary regulatory duplication" put into place in 2016, according to a press release. The proposals made today are separate from and in addition to a 2018 proposed rule that eased methane reporting and monitoring requirements for oil- and gas-extraction businesses.

The proposed plan (PDF) would "rescind emissions limits for methane from the production and processing segments of the industry," the EPA says. The proposal would also remove parts of the transmission and storage segments of the oil and gas industry⁠—generally called the midstream business⁠—from being subject to regulation, by claiming the agency was out of line when it added sources such as transmission compressor stations, pneumatic controllers, and underground storage vessels to the rule.

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Posted in climate change, EPA, greenhouse gas, methane, Policy, trump administration | Comments (0)

White House refuses to sign international statement on online extremism

May 15th, 2019
White House refuses to sign international statement on online extremism

(credit: Matt Wade)

The Trump administration will not sign an international pledge by governments and online services to combat extremist content online. The Christchurch Call is named after the New Zealand city where a terrorist livestreamed the shooting deaths of 50 Muslims in March.

The statement is being formally released today as part of an international summit in Paris. It will bear the signatures of more than a dozen nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Leading technology companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, have also signed on. But not the US government.

"The United States stands with the international community in condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online in the strongest terms," the White House said in an emailed statement Wednesday. The US government says it will "continue to support the overall goals reflected in the Call," however, it is "not currently in a position to join the endorsement."

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Posted in Christchurch shooting, Donald Trump, Facebook, new zealand, Policy, trump administration | Comments (0)

Appeals court rejects government bid to reverse AT&T/Time Warner deal

February 26th, 2019
Appeals court rejects government bid to reverse AT&T/Time Warner deal

Enlarge (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

A federal appeals court has upheld AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, dealing a blow to Trump administration lawyers who had tried to stop the deal.

The Trump administration sued to stop the deal back in 2017, arguing that having AT&T as a corporate parent would give Time Warner too much leverage in negotiations with other cable and satellite network providers. A trial judge, Richard Leon, rejected that argument last June. Now his ruling has been upheld by the DC Circuit Appeals Court.

Media conglomerates like Time Warner engage in periodic negotiations with distributors like Comcast and AT&T. In these negotiations, each party threatens to end their relationship if they don't get favorable financial terms. But each party also has an incentive not to take too hard a line because failing to reach an agreement could mean a content blackout that's expensive for both sides.

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Posted in AT&T, Policy, time warner, trump administration | Comments (0)

Trump climate advisory panel structured to avoid public records

February 25th, 2019
A global snapshot of the Vegetation Sensitivity Index (VSI) from 2016. The VSI measures environmental sensitivity to a changing climate, using satellite data gathered between 2000-2013 at 5km resolution. Areas in green are covered in vegetation that is the least sensitive to changes. Areas in red show the highest sensitivity. Grey areas are barren land or ice covered. Water is blue.

Enlarge / A global snapshot of the Vegetation Sensitivity Index (VSI) from 2016. The VSI measures environmental sensitivity to a changing climate, using satellite data gathered between 2000-2013 at 5km resolution. Areas in green are covered in vegetation that is the least sensitive to changes. Areas in red show the highest sensitivity. Grey areas are barren land or ice covered. Water is blue. (credit: Sedon, et. al.)

As we reported last week, the White House hosted a cross-agency meeting regarding a plan to create an advisory committee specifically to attack the conclusions of its own climate scientists. Details of that meeting, and the plan that ensued, are now starting to leak out.

To begin with, The Washington Post indicates that the motivation for the effort was made clear during the meeting: Trump was upset by the release of the National Climate Assessment. The report is required by law, and its conclusions were solidly within the mainstream of the scientific community's conclusions on the climate, leaving very little room for attack. So, the White House has decided to select a group of government scientists that include members who are skeptical towards its conclusions.

The group will be structured so that it can do its work off the record. The Post notes that a formal Federal Advisory Committee would include having meetings in public and creating extensive public records of its deliberations. As a result, the new plan is to create an ad-hoc working group instead, which avoids the need for any public disclosure.

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Posted in anthropogenic climate change, climate change, Climate science, Policy, science, trump administration | Comments (0)