Thurs – 1/24: ” It’s Not a Shutdown. It’s a Right-Wing Coup.” The looting of OUR resources has already begun…

According to this powerful article from The Nation.com, what we are facing is a “liberal” government shutdown. “The military, Trump’s luxurious vacations, soft power, our bombing of seven Muslim-majority countries, NSA bulk surveillance, agencies that prop up the oil and gas industry, the CIA’s arming and funding of Syrian rebels, and the FBI’s entrapment regime will continue on, while programs important to the poor and working classes, such as libraries, tax collection, national parks, labor and safety regulators, the Small Business AdministrationCommodity Futures Trading Commission (which oversees the derivatives market), environmental regulators, financial regulators, welfare, and WIC will all be shuttered.”

Well, at least partially shuttered. If a national park or refuge contains a resource that a corporate friend of the administration wants, the government will force unpaid workers to help them access it.

Action – Call your legislators and the House Natural Resource Committee to shut this down.

Minimum script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep./Committee [___] to call for an investigation of violations of the Antideficiency Act in regards to ALL fossil fuel and timber-related activities on public land, (including drilling, logging, permit processing, inspections, public meetings and regulatory documents) and the immediate cessation of discriminatory access for hunters until the shutdown is completely lifted. All these activities are “NON-ESSENTIAL” for the safety of human life or the protection of property. (31 U.S.C. § 1342.)

Contact
House Natural Resource Committee: If you don’t have a legislator on this committee (check here) contact: nrdems@mail.house.gov
Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email. (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

Background 

The Antideficiency Act

The Antideficiency Act allows the government to continue operations without funding during a shutdown in order to protect human life and government property. The Trump administration has ordered thousands of furloughed federal employees essential to national security or public safety back to work without pay  – among them airport screeners, plane and food inspectors and Border Patrol agents. There is an exception in the Act for government “obligations” that must be fulfilled, a provision the IRS is using, possibly illegally, to justify issuing tax refunds, a politically popular issue. Can’t even guess what excuse they’re using to kowtow to hunters.

The Act makes it illegal for federal employees to spend money in excess of what has been appropriated while a shutdown is in progress. However, the labor of public employees has monetary value, even if they are not being paid, so here’s where the corruption gets deep: employees have been called back to serve “non-essential” corporate interests – such as facilitating the sale of offshore oil drilling rights at bargain rates and processing ever-increasing amounts of timber permits.

The powerful morgage industry was so concerned about the shutdown on their bottom line that some IRS clerks are receiving modest paychecks from fees to handle all their mortage-related government issues. One employee who was told to come in said the agency was bending the rules. “I don’t feel like this is a national security issue or falls into any of the guidelines of operating under a government shutdown,” said the clerk, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation for speaking out. “It’s just wrong. If the American people knew that a small group of people was getting paid just to benefit big corporations, I think they’d be pretty mad.”

Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., a member of the House Oversight Committee, said he is likely to seek an investigation into why the IRS restarted the tax-transcript program: “We now have government by carve-out, and the carve-outs are apparently determined by how powerful and influential you are.”

PARKS

OUR PARKs future funding raided: Instead of having the corporations that are looting resources from our national parks pay “special-privilege fees” to keep them open, the Trump Administration is raiding funds meant for deferred maintenance projects and visitor services to be spent hauling trash and cleaning bathrooms “until such funds have reached a zero balance”. This means when the shutdown ends, parks will have no money to complete necessary projects. This is probably illegal per the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. (FLREA)

HUNTERS given priority over our wildlife resources: The partial restaffing of 38 wildlife refuges to make sure hunters  have access is angering wildlife groups, who accuse the Trump administration of trying to minimize the public impact of the shutdown, while making sure his baseis satisfied.

OIL/GAS:

OIL and GAS Projects on our land: On Thursday 1/10, we published a shout-out from Jim Hines of the Los Padres Sierra Club describing calls he’d had with Dept. of Interior (DOI) staff that the shutdown was being used to mask mining drilling activity in our national parks, with staff ordered to continue issuing permits. Well, now Trump has ordered more staff back to work on offshore oil and gas projects.

As of January 24, 2019 at 6:00AM MT, government databases indicate that during the shutdown the Bureau of Land Management has:

  • Approved 22 permits for new drilling operations
  • Approved 15 new leases for oil and gas development on public lands
  • Accepted 224 applications for drilling permits
  • Accepted 126 nominations of public lands parcels to be leased for oil and gas development (What are “nominations”? Read here.)

Today there’s news that DOI’s Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) is carrying out Trump’s destructive and corrupt energy dominance strategy (read this article!) by ordering more workers back to jobs related to offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, as well as the Gulf of Mexico, some unpaid, some using mysterious “carry-over” funding. REPEAT: NOT ESSENTIAL SERVICES! (Guess what’s not being financed with “carry-over funds”? BOEM responsibilities like opening offsore areas for wind energy development.)

TIMBER!!!:

TIMBER PROJECTS on our land: and he also sneak-signed an executive order to allow logging to continue and expand in our national forests during the shutdown.

Right before Christmas, Trump quietly issued an executive order in favor of yet another extractive industry that supported his election. The order expands timber harvest totals from OUR national forests to 4.4 billion board feet, a staggering 31% increase over 2017 levels, on the grounds that it will “curb deadly wildfires”, while ignoring the shrubs that caused much of the damage.

Just as concerning, the executive order also directs management agencies to “streamline” the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, allowing different public land agencies to push through timber projects without much analysis of how it might destroy the natural environment or engaging the public for input.

Despite the fact that the Forest Service is shuttered, officials there have given loggers permission to keep operating on existing sales — which was prohibited during both the 1995 and 2013 shutdowns — and are now exploring holding new auctions even if the government remains closed.

Park Reading

Trump administration raids key national park funds during government shutdown (CWP)

Oil Reading

  • Donald Trump’s Extract-Everything Energy policy dooms us all. (nation)
  • Oil companies are drilling on public land for the price of a cup of coffee (Wapo)
  • Back to 12.5% – Trump administration reduces royalty rates in first US oil, gas lease sale ((reuters)
  • Oil companies hoard land from conservation, recreation and other public uses. – How cheap federal leases benefit oil and gas companies. (americanprogress)
  • Drilling towards disaster (common dreams)
  • Studies show ice melting and ocean warming both happening much faster (common dreams)
  • Government Shutdown: Oil and Gas Permitting Tracker (medium)
  • Rigging the system. Six Steps that turn public lands into private oil and gas leases (riggingthesystem)

Timber Reading

  • Open letter to Decision Makers Concerning Wildfires in the West (GEOS Institute)
  • Trump’s executive order will aggressively cut more forest trees.(Wapo)
  • Public cut from public lands under Trump order (Southernenvironmental)
  • Trump ignores climate change, offers handouts to imber industry in wildfire execcutive order, despite commerical logging increasing wildfire risk (think progress)
  • Trump’s executive order will cut more forest trees, “We can’t log our way out of the fire problem (DenverPost)
  • Trump issues executive order to increase logging on federal lands (Los Padres Forest Watch)

Who gets left behind

The government shutdown may destroy many black businesses and budding entrepreneurs (black enterprise.com)

Fossil fuel industry lobbyists staff and cabinet members so far:

David Bernhardt – Acting secretary of the Interior – former oil industry lobbyist

Andrew Wheeler – Action head of the Environmental Protection Agency – Former coal lobbyist for Murray Energy.

Bernard McNamee – FERC Commissioner – Texas Public Policy Foundation (Koch Oil industry “think tank”)

Erik Baptist – EPA – Senior Deputy General Counsel – American Petroleum Institute lobbyist

Former lobbyist, now staff: here.

 

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