Environmental War Crimes – Part 1 – Air

The current administration has come to steal your health. They’ve come to steal your heritage and they’ve come to steal your voice as an American citizen.

It has already started, of course. Recently, Sen. Murkowski shoehorned a rider into the GOP tax bill allowing oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness. And now, hidden deep in a long boring appropriations bill, are more seeds of destruction. These riders, like Murkowski’s, are so disturbing and corrupt that they couldn’t possibly succeed as bills on their own.

They are, in fact, returns-on-investments to big corporations and ideological extremists, and they will succeed by being overlooked, swept along with the weight of HR 3354, a legislative monster also known as the “Interior and Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Commerce, Justice, Science, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State and Foreign Operations, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2018″ Act.

And these legislators will win…

Unless we pull their toxic riders the daylight. Unless we say something against them. Loudly. And unless we defend what is rightfully ours.

Today, we’re starting a multi-part series on HR 3354 along with similar bills. We’re breaking them down into their separate poisonous parts.  You’ve got your phone. You know what to do.

Clean air

“There is no safe level of air pollution.” (Newsweek) (BusinessInsider) (LATimes)

“Air pollution is still killing people in the United States”  (time)

“…a growing body of evidence suggests that exposure can also harm the brain, accelerating cognitive aging, and may even increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.” (Sciencemag)

Calls to Action

Action: Make these calls, and just as importantly, share this with friends and family that live in GOP-dominated states and ask them to call their legislators.

Minimal Script #1: I’m calling from [zip code] and I’m asking Sen. [___] to reject HR 3354, and come back with a clean appropriations act with both the removal of all anti-environmental riders and the restoration of full funding to match fiscal year 2016.

Minimal Script #2: I’m calling from [zip code] and I’m asking Rep. [___] to help kill the  perversely named HR 1119 – “Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act”, which loosens air pollution standards for waste-burning coal plants.

Contact your Legislator

Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Which one is yours?www.phoneyourrep.com

Senator Feinstein: DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Rep./Senator Contacts: www.phoneyourrep.com

Background Information – go as deep as you want.

Thanks to defenders.org for their amazing compilation. More to come.

These items, from #1-16,  are the perverse easter eggs hidden in HR. 3354, just on AIR POLLUTION. We’ll be doing water tomorrow.

#1 – No protections from air pollution from livestock waste

This one is so important to the agri-business industry lobbyists, it’s repeated twice.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 417
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 416

 Sec. 417/416 -No Clean Air protections from the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Produced by Livestock Waste – Despite clear evidence that factory farms contribute significantly to anthropogenic emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not required animal feeding operations to meet any testing, performance, or emission standards under the Clean Air Act. This provision would prevent the use of the Clean Air Act permitting tools to control greenhouse gases from the largest sources of livestock waste. Sec. 417 permanently prevents the EPA from limiting pollution from livestock production under the Clean Air Act.

#2 – Removing our ability to measure livestock waste pollution.

This one is repeated twice too…There’s money behind this.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 418
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 417

Section 418: Now you see it, now you don’t… Removing a key factor on Global Warming Pollution Accounting Prevents the EPA from implementing its rule on mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases from manure management systems (CAFOs) – those emitting 25,000 metric tons or more of GHG emissions per year. Domestically, manure management and enteric fermentation are responsible for about one-third of all anthropogenic methane emissions, and methane is more than 20 times as potent a GHG as carbon dioxide. In 2008, methane emissions from manure management were 54 percent higher than in 1990. In addition, the direct and indirect emissions of nitrous oxide – 310 times as potent a GHG as carbon dioxide – from manure management increased 19 percent between 1990 and 2008.

#3 – Science is no longer real…Eliminates consideration of carbon pollution from burned biomass.

This one is repeated twice too…

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 428
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 428

Sec. 428 requires all biomass burned for electricity production to be considered to have zero carbon pollution despite the fact that emissions from wood biomass are often higher than those from coal. This also threatens  forests by encouraging the burning of trees to generate electricity, and worsens climate change by pretending climate-changing emissions don’t exist.

#4 – These guys want to block, PERMANENTLY, updates to the National Ozone Standard.

This one is repeated twice..

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 432 
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title V- In Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Explanatory Statement Item #10

Sec. 432: Permanently blocks or delays updates to the national ozone standard. Ozone – or smog – causes breathing problems, asthma attacks, and even premature death. EPA finalized an updated national ozone standard last year; the previous standard allowed ozone levels known to be harmful, and can mislead people who rely on information about their local air quality – like parents of children with asthma – into thinking the air is safe to breathe on a day when it actually is not. This rider contradicts requirements of the Clean Air Act that require review and revision of the standard every 5 years, based on the science.

#10 Concern expressed that  implementation of EPA’s more protective standard for ozone pollution will bring new parts of the country into non-compliance. However, if areas of the country are not meeting these health-based standards, the solution is to work with the communities to clean up the pollution under the Clean Air Act – not to ignore the problem and continue putting kids with asthma and other vulnerable populations at risk.

#5 – Even in an emergency, the EPA can’t require warnings of dangerous air pollution from animal production facilities (there’s a pattern here).

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 450 – Rep. Billy Long (R-MO)

Sec. 450: Prevent the EPA from requiring industrial animal production facilities to report the quantities of even extremely dangerous substances that they release into air, even in emergencies, and even when such releases endanger neighbors. The amendment also prevents EPA from enforcing the law with respect to these facilities. If you live near these facilities and this bill is passed, you’re on your own.

#6 – Climate Denial in action. Destroying our clean air supply one act at a time.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 456 – Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA)

Sec. 456: Would roll back the Clean Air Act and would block any potential plan to address climate change. Instead of listening to the national security experts, faith leaders, scientists, energy innovators, health professionals and many others who are sounding the alarm on climate change and have implored our nation’s elected officials to support action, this amendment simply seeks another way to say “no.”

#7 – Stopping protections against methane in their tracks, harming the public’s health – BLM version.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 460 – Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM)

Sec. 460: Prohibit funds from being used to implement the BLM’s Methane Waste Rule, a commonsense, cost- effective safeguard requiring the oil and gas industry to use cost-effective technologies and practices to reduce venting and flaring as well as find and fix leaks from oil and gas infrastructure on public lands. This protects taxpayers, public health and the environment.

#8 – Limiting attorneys’ fees to discourage citizens from enforcing the protections of the Clean Air Act.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 461 – Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO)

Sec. 461 targets court settlements involving congressionally mandated federal agency actions, including requirements to protect public health and the environment. Congress long ago recognized that the government needs citizens to be partners in enforcing all manner of America’s laws, including environmental protection laws. This principle is enshrined in the numerous federal laws that provide reasonable fee recovery for successful citizen plaintiffs. This amendment would change this by barring payment of citizens’ legal fees whenever parties avoid costly litigation by agreeing to a settlement, thereby favoring continued litigation over settlement.

#9 – Stopping protections against methane in their tracks, harming the public’s health – EPA version.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 462- Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)

Sec. 462 – Blocks the EPA from implementing its Methane Pollution Standard, the first-ever limits on methane pollution from the oil and gas sector (the largest emitter of methane). EPA’s standards require proven, low-cost safeguards that will yield net climate benefits of $170 million in 2025 and will generate significant public health benefits as well by curbing smog and soot-forming Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions and hazardous air pollutants.

Notes on items #7 and #9

The Trump administration is attempting to delay both the BLM and EPA methane rules through multiple channels. The administration announced that it was delaying the EPA methane rule and key portions of the BLM methane rule on June 5 and 15, respectively. These efforts have been thwarted by the courts . On July 3, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA’s attempt to suspend its methane rule was illegal. And on October 4, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Trump administration had illegally suspended the BLM methane rule. Both EPA and BLM are working through administrative proceedings to delay, rescind or rewrite the rules, but none of these rulemakings have been finalized to date. Accordingly, both rules are currently in place.
#11 – Discouraging citizens from bringing action with punitive reporting standards.
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions,  In House INterior Appropriations Committe Report 

1) Language in the report would direct the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service and the EPA to produce “detailed” reports on the cost of successful enforcement actions filed by individuals and organizations in federal court, identifying anyone who recovers litigation expenses from the government, and any judges who approve such reimbursements. Citizen suits help protect the public health and environment but this language requires a punitive set of reporting requirements that target every citizen and judge involved. Reasonable reporting provisions – like those Congress removed from the Equal Access to Justice Act in 1995 – provide and important means of agency oversight. The more onerous and intrusive requirements of this language threaten to chill citizen enforcement of federal law.

#12 – Block funds for clean air protections in Alaska. What?

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 435

Sec. 435: This is a give-away to the oil and gas and mining industries, who unsuccessfully sued EPA to stop these basic health protections. It would allow industrial incinerators in Alaska to avoid using available pollution controls and to emit unlimited quantities of harmful pollution, including particulate matter, lead, cadmium, mercury, and dioxins.

#13 – Similar to Item #5 – “Right to Know” what going on around you in rural communities.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title V- In Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Explanatory Statement

7) By raising misleading “privacy for agricultural producers” concerns, this rider seeks to shield the hazardous emmisions from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, from rural communities that are exposed to them. Since these operations can be discerned from satellite imagery, their locations can be known to anyone with a computerd and a nose. CAFOs produce more animal sewage than major cities, and this sewage releases toxic ammonia and hydrogen sulfide into our air, affecting the health of nearby communitie. They cause decreased lung capacity, nausea, burning airways and sinuses, and loss of voice. Hydrogen sulfide has caused multiple worker deaths at livestock facilities and he Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) require CAFOs, like all other industrial facilities, to report release of large quantities of toxic gases—and not merely “odors”—into the environment.

#14 – Dirty trucks forever! 

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title V- In Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Explanatory Statement

8) Urges the EPA to reconsider reopening a loophole that allowed for super-polluting trucks. The loophole allowed old, dirty truck engines to be sold in a new chassis, allowing them to circumvent emissions control requirements that apply to new trucks. Glider kit vehicles’ emissions can be as much as 450 times higher than those of new trucks meeting current standards. EPA’s previous decision to close the loophole would prevent up to 1600 premature deaths over the lifetimes of vehicles sold in 2017 alone.

#15 – Allows waste coal plants to emit more pollution.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title V- In Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Explanatory Statement

9) Directs the EPA to weaken the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for waste coal-fired power plants to emit more sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide can cause breathing problems, asthma exacerbations, and reduced lung function. Even worse, sulfur dioxide also forms particle pollution that can shorten life, cause heart attacks and lung cancer.

Hey – this is also coming out as a bill HR. 1119, and is your “Miminal Script #2” for today!

#16 – Allows harmful pollution to continue from certain diesel generators.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title V- In Senate Interior Appropriations Committee Explanatory Statement

11) Language in the explanatory statement encourages EPA to exempt certain remote diesel generations from having to use particulate matter filters, putting health at risk in these communities. Particulate matter causes premature death and cardiovascular and respiratory harm, and is linked to cancer.

Readings:

Start with basic principles, explained in greater detail here.

  • Trump’s deregulatory measure have not supercharged our economy.
  • The benefits of regulation to the public vastly outweigh the hyped-up cost to industry.
  • The demand that we have to choose between regulations and jobs is untrue.
  • The vast majority of federal regulations are not contested.

FY 2017 Anti-Environmental riders (nrdc)

Here’s what those scamps in the GOP want to take away…
Check out their scores on the League of Conservation Voters “National Environmental Scorecare” here.

In ‘Tremendous Victory for Taxpayers, Public Health, and Planet,’ Federal Court Rejects Trump Admin.’s Attempt to Suspend Methane Rule The late Thursday ruling “once again sends a message to this administration that it will not get away with illegal handouts to industry” (common dreams)

Environmental impacts of natural gas (unionofconcernedscientists)

The dirty little deals that would foul the environment. (NYTimes

173 Groups Call on Congress to Pass a Clean Budget With No Ideological Riders

The Bering Sea lost half of its sea ice over a two week period. (pri.org)

Climate Refugees in Florida could change the politics there for generations (yes)

Climate change ‘will push European cities towards breaking point’. Study highlights urgent need to adapt urban areas to cope with floods, droughts and heatwaves (guardian)

“It is the largest ecological catastrophe in North America since the Dust Bowl”- Louisiana’s coast and the towns on it are on borrowed time. (nytimes)

https://www.rollcall.com/news/policy/omnibus-spending-bill-shutdown?ct=t(WUW_oct-3-2017)

67 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump (NYTimes)

 

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