Last updated on January 21, 2021
A senior Biden climate team transition official alerted E&E News that the damage Trump and his fossil fuel grifters (that have held power over the agencies tasked with protecting the climate system) have been successful in hollowing out the EPA of staff and resources at a time when the “ability to address climate change” is dire.
Red code alerts from the scientific community, just in the past week alone, have shown shattered records on ocean surface temperatures. They warned that 2020 was the warmest year on record, in a virtual tie with 2016. Thus ends the warmest decade on record.
This past year alone saw, one of the “hottest years on record, also saw extraordinary wildfire activity in the Western United States and Australia, a Siberian heatwave with record high temperatures exceeding 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) within the Arctic circle, a record low for October Arctic sea ice extent of 2.04 million square miles, an Atlantic hurricane season resulting in more than $46 billion in damage, and deadly floods and landslides in South Asia that displaced more than 12 million people.” And so much more, unfortunately.
The climate criminal occupying the oval office has denied humanity the geological time necessary in the fight against extinction-level consequences of our dying biosphere.
Adam Aton of E&E News has the story on Trump’s crimes against the planet and humanity.
For instance, the official said, EPA’s research laboratories have been hollowed out, and its science advisory boards have been depopulated. At the operational level, each of Trump’s rollbacks has shuffled the staff and funding that had been in place to carry out regulations.
The EPA workforce has shrunk by more than 600 people since the beginning of Trump’s term, another source familiar with the agency review process said.
That’s on top of the agency’s moves to restrict the kinds of public health research that EPA can use for regulations, and its watering down of the social cost of carbon, the government’s metric for analyzing the benefits of emissions cuts.
Elsewhere in government, the official said, the Trump administration has curtailed the Energy Department’s Quadrennial Energy Review and other research; moved to cut the Treasury Department’s office of energy and environment; and disengaged from the international Arctic Council while blocking climate work at the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues its efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and to expand logging in the Tongass National Forest, one of the country’s largest carbon sinks.
“In looking at those [regulatory] rollbacks, we sort of understood the task ahead was going to be daunting. But really, the rebuilding efforts across the government are going to be more extensive than we have understood before,” the senior transition official said on a background call with reporters.
— Kevin Pluck (@kevpluck) January 15, 2021
The New Republic’s Kate Aronoff writes on how “Bipartisanship” Is Climate Poison.”
In their closing arguments on the campaign trail, though, Warnock and Ossoff voiced as good a model as any for climate policy: give people stuff. After Mitch McConnell blocked the possibility of $2,000 checks, they promised voters that a Democratically controlled Senate would deliver. They won, batting off racist and anti-Semitic attacks painting both candidates as “radical liberals.” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer now says he intends to make those checks happen.
Climate legislation should operate by a similar ethos. Rather than making devil’s bargains with industry and Republicans, it can offer tangible gains through jobs and investments—all in time to keep the GOP and its fossil fuel backers from retaking the House in 2022. Biden should sign the $2,000 checks Democrats send out and slap a federal government plaque on every new infrastructure project Congress greenlights. The message shouldn’t be that a corporate executive in a suit endorses a thousand-page bill nobody can understand. It should be that big government is back and it’ll give you a job.
Likewise, instead of watering down climate policy for Manchin’s benefit, a climate package could deliver concrete gains to West Virginia—a good in and of itself. Manchin’s state has one of the highest poverty rates in the country and is sorely in need of the sorts of federal investment that previous West Virginian Democratic senators were known for shaking down. A climate bill could be Manchin’s chance to deliver, promising better, less dangerous jobs to replace the old coal ones that will never return, climate policy or no. And such a jobs-forward bill could also give Manchin incentive to support repealing the filibuster, which otherwise threatens keep good policy off the table.
The amount of power Manchin is about to wield over the Senate may be wildly undemocratic. But climate policy should look out for the coal mining communities that helped build this country. Democrats should make the case that it can.
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