Trump claimed wind turbines cause cancer

President Donald Trump on Tuesday launched his latest wild attack on wind turbines, an energy source that has long attracted his ire.

“They say the noise causes cancer,” the president said of the turbines at the National Republican Congressional Committee fundraiser in Washington, DC.

Trump linked the technology to his former presidential rival Hillary Clinton, saying she “wanted to put up wind.”

“If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations your house just went down 75% in value. And they say the noise causes cancer, you tell me that one, OK?” Trump said, imitating the whirring noise made by the turbines.

He went on to express concern for the effect of turbines on wild-bird populations.

“The thing makes so much noise, and, of course, it’s like a graveyard for birds. If you loved birds, you’d never want to walk under a windmill again,” Trump said.

Scientists have long rejected the decades-old claims of those who say that wind turbines cause a variety of illnesses, including cancer.

Simon Chapman, a professor in public health at the University of Sydney in Australia, in a 2012 article reviewed stories of people who had illnesses they blamed on turbines.

He suggested that the illnesses — which were real — were not attributable to the turbines but instead were “psychogenic,” which means they were caused by anxiety and unrest.

It is true that many birds are killed by flying into wind turbines. However, far more are killed by flying into cellphone and radio towers, or by being mauled to death by cats.

In February, Trump lost a long-running legal battle with the Scottish government over a wind farm near one of his golf courses.

Before the 2016 US presidential election, he launched the battle over an offshore farm near his golf course in Aberdeenshire in northwest Scotland. He lost and had to pay legal bills for himself and the Scottish government.

Last week, Trump attacked wind power at a rally in Michigan, saying that if the wind doesn’t blow, televisions and other electronic devices will lose power.

In fact, turbines can store the energy to be used in times of calm.

[Business Insider]

Trump says wind power doesn’t work because ‘it only blows sometimes’

President Trump late Wednesday repeated his opposition to wind power, pushing a misleading claim that it would not work as an energy source because the wind “only blows sometimes.”

The president made the comments during a phone interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, as part of his remarks on how his presidency has been “tougher … on Russia” than any other past presidents.

“It’s what we have done with energy and oil and gas. That’s all competition from, for Russia,” Trump said. “You look at the Ukraine. You look at so many different levels. You look at our military.”

“You look at the fact that we would have been powered by wind, which wouldn’t have worked by the way because it only blows sometimes and lots of problems come about.”

The comment echoes Trump’s repeated past criticisms of wind power. Just one week earlier, he mocked the concept of wind power by mimicking a man telling his spouse: “Turn off the television darling, please. There’s no wind, please turn off the television quickly.”

The Department of Energy explains on its website that power grids are designed to accommodate variability from energy generation sources, such as wind and solar, without having to rely on “backup” energy sources.

Trump, who campaigned on restoring coal jobs to the U.S., has long opposed wind turbines based on a number of arguments, including saying that the “windmills” will decrease property values and that turbines are a “killing field” for birds.

The Energy Department also notes that bird deaths from wind turbines are rare and pale in comparison to bird deaths from collisions with buildings and declining habitats from infrastructure development.

According to a new study released this week by a nonpartisan think tank, solar and wind power are on track to phase out coal as cheaper energy alternatives within the next few years.

[The Hill]

Reality

Trump Parrots Fox & Friends Segment Claiming Climate Crisis is ‘Fake News,’ ‘Fake Science’

In his latest Fox & Friends live-tweeting session, President Donald Trumpapplauded former Greenpeace president Patrick Moore for saying the planet’s climate crisis is “fake news” and “fake science.” This comes after Trump echoed a segment of the show where one of his former campaign staffers called on Jews to abandon the Democratic Party.

Moore was invited onto Fox & Friends because he called Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes (D-NY) a “pompous little twit” for her latest defense of the Green New Deal. Sure enough, he used his segment to call the proposal “completely ridiculous” and push his denial of climate change.

Moore went on to bash the majority of the scientific community for their concerns about climate change, saying Greenpeace has been “hijacked by the extreme left” to sell “sensationalism, misinformation, and fear.” He also suggested that global warming could be a good thing, saying that burning fossil fuels and releasing more greenhouse gases will “fertilize” the planet, resulting in a net positive for the environment.

As it were, Greenpeace has responded to Trump, saying that contrary to Moore’s claim, he did not co-found the organization, and they essentially renounced him ever since he started operating as a lobbyist and an advocate for polluters and corporate energy industries.

It’s worth noting the Trump Administration released a report from multiple federal agencies last year that determined global climate change could have extreme long-term consequences for the United States. Then again, Trump has made his skepticism of man-made climate change perfectly clear in the past, so his parroting Moore could just be confirmation bias on his part.

[Mediaite]

Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary

President Trump is picking David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, to be the Interior Department’s next secretary. “I am pleased to announce that David Bernhardt, Acting Secretary of the Interior, will be nominated as Secretary of the Interior,” Trump tweeted Monday. Bernhardt, whose past clients include oil companies and others with business before the Interior Department, will lead an agency that oversees about 500 million acres as well as the energy production on that land. He became the agency’s deputy secretary in 2017 and has led the department on an interim basis since former Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned amid ethics scandals in January. In the weeks since Zinke’s departure, Bernhardt has risen to the top of the list as the most likely candidate Trump would choose for the post. “David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed!” Trump will have to send Bernhardt’s nomination to the Senate, where a majority of senators will have to approved him. “It’s a humbling privilege to be nominated to lead a department whose mission I love, to accomplish the balanced, common sense vision of our President,” Bernhardt said in a statement Monday. The department has 70,000 employees in various agencies overseeing federal land, offshore drilling, endangered species and American Indian affairs, among other duties. As deputy secretary, Bernhardt, a Colorado native, worked hand in hand with Zinke on his oil and gas leasing agenda and took the lead on many others, including the administration’s push to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the rollback of a number of Endangered Species Act regulations. In the past he’s called the ESA an “unnecessary regulatory burden.” The rule proposal he helped roll out in July would make it easier to delist an endangered species and would withdraw a policy that offered the same protections for threatened species as for endangered species unless otherwise specified. Bernhardt has worked at Interior in various capacities, including solicitor during the George W. Bush administration. He has also had multiple stints at the lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, representing clients including Eni Petroleum, Sempra Energy, Halliburton Energy Services, Targa Energy, Noble Energy and the Westlands Water District. Under ethics standards, he has recused himself from matters involving so many former clients that he carries a card with him listing the recusals. Environmental groups immediately denounced Bernhardt’s nomination Monday. “The ethical questions surrounding David Bernhardt and his commitment to pandering to oil, coal, and gas executives make former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke look like a tree-hugging environmentalist in comparison. And Ryan Zinke was a disaster,” Vicky Wyatt, lead climate campaigner for Greenpeace USA, said in a statement. “We already let Bernhardt do enough damage to our federal lands and waters as deputy secretary —  we have to stop him before he destroys some of this country’s best ideas including the Endangered Species Act.” “David Bernhardt’s nomination is an affront to America’s parks and public lands,” said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation group that has been vocally critical of the Trump administration. “As an oil and gas lobbyist, Bernhardt pushed to open vast swaths of public lands for drilling and mining. As deputy secretary, he was behind some of the worst policy decisions of Secretary Zinke’s sad tenure, including stripping protections for imperiled wildlife.” The industries Interior regulates have largely been supportive of Bernhardt. “We have always been supportive of acting Secretary Bernhardt. We supported his nomination and would support him if the president decides to nominate him to be secretary,” Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, told reporters Monday. “In these transitional phases, it’s important that we have strong political leadership, and I think he’s demonstrated that leadership in his time as acting secretary.” Supporters say Bernhardt’s agenda on fossil fuels would likely continue in the same vein as Zinke. “Bernhardt possesses an impressive depth of experience at the Department and knowledge of Interior issues. His selection as secretary will assure that important energy and conservation policies will not miss a beat in the transition,” said Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, which represents offshore oil and wind companies.

“Bernhardt understands that conservation and enhancement of natural resources can and does occur in conjunction with development of natural resources for energy — both on and offshore,” he said. Bernhardt’s nomination will go to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for an initial hearing, and then a vote before the full Senate. That panel’s leaders, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), both voted to confirm him to the deputy secretary position in 2017. Only three other Democrats — Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) — voted for him, and Heitkamp and Donnelly lost reelection last year. Republicans hold 53 of the Senate’s 100 seats, so Bernhardt’s confirmation is likely to go through. One of the most recent controversies surrounding Bernhardt involved the recent partial government shutdown, which furloughed most of Interior’s workforce. He drew criticism after announcing the National Park Service would pull from their entrance fee revenue coffers in order to pay for the clean-up and maintenance of parks left up to the public during the shutdown. “We must provide opportunities for people to access and enjoy our wonderful parks, and we must do so in a way that ensures the same opportunity for future generations to enjoy,” he wrote. Environmentalists, park rangers and politicians alike questioned the legality of the move under the National Park Service Organic and Antideficiency Acts, the main pieces of legislation that govern federal parks and shutdown procedures respectively. The NPS is currently conducting a legal review of that decision. Bernhardt also was criticized for bringing certain furloughed workers back to work on oil and natural gas drilling permits, offshore drilling and drilling in the Alaska refuge. The House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee for Interior, led by Chairwoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), will hold a hearing this week on the work that Interior did during the shutdown and whether it was legal. Bernhardt floated to the top of a crowded field of potential replacements for Zinke. The candidates included many current or former Republican politicians, according to people familiar with the process, such as ex-Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), ex-Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) and ex-Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

[The Hill]

Trump’s pick to chair new climate panel once said CO2 has been maligned like “Jews under Hitler”

The Pentagon and several federal agencies have repeatedly warned over the years that climate change is a threat to national security. Yet the White House is reportedly convening a panel to question it anew.

The Washington Post, citing a National Security Council (NSC) discussion paper it obtained, reports that White House staff are preparing an executive order for President Donald Trump’s signature that would establish a Presidential Committee on Climate Security to be chaired by a notorious climate change denier.

That man, NSC senior director William Happer, argued on CNBC in 2014 that “the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

John Whitehouse of Media Matters dredged up the video

Happer’s views have gotten no less extreme since then. When he was under consideration for the role of Trump’s science adviser in early 2017, Happer sent an email to a Jezebel reader asserting that the “demonization of CO2” “really differs little from the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Soviet extermination of class enemies or ISIL slaughter of infidels.”

Media Matters has previously detailed how Happer, a retired Princeton professor who is not trained as a climate scientist, has tried — unsuccessfully — to conceal the fact that oil interests have directly funded his “research.” And as a recent paper in Nature Climate Change noted, the fossil fuel industry has long been involved in campaigns in US politics “aiming to refute, confuse and obstruct acceptance of the reality of climate change,” using scientists just like Happer to spread misinformation.

The Trump administration keeps trying to muddy the waters about climate science

The Post’s report about the White House’s new panel is the latest indication that the Trump administration is trying to actively mislead the public on the well-established science of climate change.

As Vox’s Umair Irfan and Alex Ward have reported, many agencies in the executive branch of Trump’s own government have been warning the president and the American people of the severe threats of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

“The impacts and costs of climate change are already being felt in the United States, and changes in the likelihood or severity of some recent extreme weather events can now be attributed with increasingly higher confidence to human-caused warming,” according to the National Climate Assessment, released in November.

Asked about the National Climate Assessment by a reporter in November, Trump flatly said, “I don’t believe it.”

Last month, the Pentagon released a report detailing the national security threatposed by climate change. Weeks later, the intelligence community released its annual consensus World Threat Assessment. The document echoes the Pentagon’s finding that climate change is a major threat:

Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security. Irreversible damage to ecosystems and habitats will undermine the economic benefits they provide, worsened by air, soil, water, and marine pollution.

The NSC discussion paper obtained by the Post about the new panel suggests it would be created with an eye toward muddying the waters about the Pentagon and intelligence community’s findings. Though the paper acknowledges that a number of federal government reports have concluded climate change is a major threat, it goes on to claim “these scientific and national security judgments have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial scientific peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security.”

Given Happer’s views, there’s little doubt that he’ll indulge Trump if he wants to use the panel to deny the well-established science of climate change. In doing so, the consequences are grave: He’d further imperil the United States and future generations everywhere.

[Vox]

Trump demands California pay him for funds sent for high-speed rail

Always one to attack the state of California, President Donald Trump demanded the state send him $3 billion after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) said that the project is on hold while the state figures out some of the problems facing the state.

“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!” Trump tweeted.

Newsome announced in his first state of the state address that he would scale back plans. The decision isn’t a surprise as California is grappling with one of the largest fires in their history, sparked in part by the main energy company. PG&E is steps from bankruptcy to avoid the billions of dollars courts have ordered them to pay to repair and maintain their electrical lines.

“We’re going to make high-speed rail a reality for CA,” Newsome said on Twitter. “We have the capacity to complete the rail between Merced and Bakersfield. We will continue our regional projects north and south. Finish Phase 1 enviro work. Connect the Central Valley to other parts of the state.”

[Raw Story]

Trump calls to save coal plant supplied by major supporter

His missive came just days before the TVA board is slated to vote on the future of Paradise Unit 3, a 49-year-old coal plant that the federally owned utility has said would be too expensive to keep operating.

The 1,150-megawatt plant gets the bulk of its coal from a subsidiary of Murray Energy, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Robert Murray, the CEO of the mining company, is a major Trump supporter who has personally lobbied the president to take other actions to help the ailing coal industry, particularly in regions where he sells coal. The White House has shelved a proposed coal bailout plan that has been among Murray’s top priorities, although the Trump administration has rolled back numerous other environmental rules the magnate has criticized.

Murray is a prolific GOP donor, and his company gave $1 million from his company to the Trump-supporting super PAC America First Action in the last election cycle, among other big contributions. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who is awaiting Senate confirmation, lobbied for Murray Energy among other clients before joining the Trump administration, including joining the CEO and other company officials in a 2017 meeting with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to discuss Murray’s policy proposals. Wheeler has said he did not write the action plan Murray presented to the Trump administration.

In a statement, Murray said he has not lobbied the White House to intervene on behalf of the plant.

“We have had no such contact,” Murray said in a statement. “In the interest of the TVA ratepayers, the remaining coal-fired unit at the Paradise Plant must remain in operation. The power will be more reliable and lower cost.”

Murray later acknowledged in an interview that he has responded to several members of Congress who have asked about “the devastation” that would be caused by the loss of the Paradise coal plant, and he said that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin asked about the plant when the two met late last week to discuss another subject. But he told POLITICO he had nothing to do with the president’s tweet.

[Politico]

Update

Trump failed. The TVA closed the plant.

Trump again confuses climate with weather in tweet attacking Amy Klobuchar

Donald Trump attacked Amy Klobuchar on Sunday, in a tweet that appeared to demonstrate a lack of understanding about climate change.

The Democratic senator had announced that she was running for the presidency earlier that day, in a speech delivered as snow fell around her in Minneapolis

“As your president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’ve done my whole life,” she told a crowd of people gathered at a park along the Mississippi River.

The Minnesota senator added that on her first day as president she would have the US rejoin the Paris climate agreement, which Mr Trump withdrew the country from in 2017.

“Well, it happened again,” the president wrote on Twitter.

“Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for President, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures.”

“Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!”

Conflating weather and climate change is a common error and Nasa has a webpage dedicated to distingushing the two.

“The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time,” it states.

“Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”

Mr Trump has a long history of spreading incorrect information about climate change, despite the wealth of information available.

His tweet came just three weeks after another one in which he discussed forecasts of heavy snow.

“Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now,” the 72-year-old said. 

Mr Trump also once claimed that climate change was a Chinese hoax, invented to hurt US exports.

Ms Klobuchar responded to his mockery on Twitter by saying that science supported her policies.

“Science is on my side,” she wrote, addressing the president. 

[The Independent]

Trump says Paris climate deal ‘isn’t working out’ for Paris, citing protests

President Trump railed against the Paris climate agreement on Saturday morning, claiming French citizens were protesting because they don’t want to pay “large sums of money, much to third world countries.”

“The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France,” Trump tweeted. “People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment.”

He also again claimed that protesters were “chanting ‘We Want Trump!’ ” He made the same claim on Tuesday, originally tweeted by Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk.

Kirk’s information about crowd chants seems to come from an article Rush Limbaugh wrote on iHeart Radio on Monday, which claims that friends told him that protesters are asking for Trump.

The protests came after France on Tuesday delayed plans to implement steep taxes on diesel fuel and gasoline as part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to reduce emissions.

The announcement was followed by intense protests in the capital city of Paris, where monuments have been vandalized by demonstrators.

The Eiffel Tower is closed on Saturday for “safety reasons” as more massive demonstrations are planned. 

More than 100 people have reportedly been injured in clashes with police.

Trump this week cited the riots as justification for pulling out of the Paris climate deal, calling it “fatally flawed.

The president frequently criticizes the deal and withdrew the U.S. from the international measure in June 2017, although the departure will not be effective until November 2020.

Trump has faced bipartisan criticism in recent weeks for saying he doesn’t “believe” the findings of a major report from his administration forecasting the dire consequences, including economic issues, to the United States from climate change.

He has rejected the scientific consensus on climate change for years, tweeting in 2012 that the “concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

[The Hill]

EPA announces new plan to weaken Obama-era greenhouse gas rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Thursday plans to roll back a 2015 rule that put strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions coming from coal plants — a tweak the agency is labeling closer to “reality.”

The change will significantly weaken the Obama-era rule in part as an effort to help jump-start new coal plant construction in the U.S.

The proposed revisions to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) would no longer mandate that plants meet the strict emissions goals of achieving emissions equal to or less than what plants would have achieved with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

The Obama administration at the time saw CCS as a feasible future technology that was important to pulling carbon out of coal plant emissions at their source. Today the technology is not generally used commercially and is pricey.

EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler called the Obama administration’s focus on CCS “disingenuous.”

“Their determination was disingenuous. They knew the tech was not adequately demonstrated, which is what was required under the law. This rule sets high yet achievable standards rooted in reality,” Wheeler said at a press conference at EPA headquarters.

EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum called the old rule “wishful thinking.”

“Today’s actions reflect our approach of defining new, clean coal standards by data and the latest technological information, not wishful thinking,” he said in a statement. “U.S. coal-fired power will be a part of our energy future and our revised standards will ensure that the emissions profiles of new plants continue to improve.”

The new changes would limit coal plant emissions to 1,900 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour produced, a level they say can be met with modern technology including efficient boilers.

The original rule had set the limit at 1,400 pounds.

Despite the higher level of carbon being allowed into the air under EPA’s latest change, Wheeler told reporters that their study found it would “not result in significant [carbon dioxide] changes or costs.”

When asked whether the new rule means the EPA is ignoring the Trump administration’s latest report that declared that effects from climate change would result in unavoidable economic harm to the U.S, Wheeler pushed back.

“We’re not ignoring the government report. We’re still looking at the government report ourselves. We just got a briefing on it this morning from some of our career scientists,” he said.

The report was released two weeks ago.

The EPA chief said the new rule would actually be beneficial to human health because it would provide cheaper electricity to households.

“Having cheap electricity helps human health. If you have cheaper electricity, people are able to afford electricity for their house — that is one aspect of protecting human health,” he said, specifically referring to lower income populations.

[The Hill]

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