Trump formally pulls out of landmark Paris climate agreement

President Trump on Monday began the yearlong process of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

The official announcement cements a promise Trump made in the White House Rose Garden in 2017 when he first announced his intention to withdraw from the global climate change agreement signed by every other country in the world.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in a statement.

“President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement,” Pompeo said. “The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy.”

“The U.S. approach incorporates the reality of the global energy mix,” he added, arguing “innovation and open markets” will drive emissions reductions.

Trump’s views on the deal have been widely criticized by Democrats, environmentalists and even some Republicans, who say the U.S. is abdicating global leadership at a time when urgent action is required to stem the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

“It is shameful. It is cowardly when we need to be brave and act boldly. Long after the rest of us are gone, future generations will remember this president’s failure to lead on the greatest environmental challenge of our time,” said Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. 

“By breaking America’s commitment to the Paris Accord, President Trump is reducing America’s standing in the world,” Carper added.

The president has repeatedly boasted about already withdrawing the U.S. from the deal, despite the rigid timelines required by the agreement for nations seeking to leave it.

The agreement allowed the U.S. to begin the process to withdraw on Monday and finalize the U.S. exit from the agreement on Nov. 4, 2020 — just one day after the presidential election.

The process will kick off just weeks ahead of a United Nations summit in Spain, where leaders will hammer out final details for complying with the agreement.

Democrats have already asked U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft to recuse herself from the withdrawal process, given her financial and personal ties to the fossil fuel industry. Craft’s husband, Joe Craft, is CEO of Alliance Resource Partners, one of the largest coal companies in the U.S.

Recommitting the U.S. to the Paris climate accord has become a box to tick for Democrats running for president in 2020, most of whom have said they would do so their very first day in office.

While some Republicans may have changed their rhetoric on the realities of climate change, many remain opposed to the deal, arguing the U.S. should not have to make efforts to curb emissions without more efforts from other countries first.

House Democrats have taken steps aimed at preventing Trump from leaving the climate pact, passing a resolution in May that would block the move.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately said the bill “will go nowhere” in the Senate.

Climate experts have called the Paris deal the price of admission to the climate conversation, but warn that even the near-global effort may fall short of the action necessary to limit rising temperatures.

The landmark 2015 agreement signed by former President Obama requires the U.S. to reduce emissions about 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The withdrawal kickoff earned harsh rebuke from environmental groups.

“Donald Trump is the worst president in history for our climate and our clean air and water. Long after Trump is out of office, his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement will be seen as a historic error. Trump has once again demonstrated that he is more interested in catering to the interests of the world’s worst polluters than he is in listening to the American people,” the Sierra Club said in a statement.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called the move a “grave and reckless mistake.”

“Climate change won’t be solved without a global effort. It won’t happen without U.S. leadership. It won’t happen as long as the world’s second-largest climate polluter is backsliding on the climate pledge it has made to the rest of the world,” NRDC President Mitch Bernard said in a statement. 

[The Hill]

Trump threatens to end federal aid to California in tweets slamming Gov. Gavin Newsom

Just days after Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the federal government for its response to catastrophic wildfires and power outages affecting millions, President Donald Trump on Sunday slammed the California Democrat — and threatened to cut off future federal funding to the fire-battered state.

Trump, in a spate of postings on Twitter, lambasted what he called Newsom’s “terrible job” regarding the state’s forest management practices, saying the governor should stop listening to environmentalist “bosses” and “clean” the forest floors. He also slammed Newsom for state water-management practices, suggesting that California must open up what he called “ridiculously closed water lanes.”

Saying Newsom had repeatedly requested federal funds, Trump threatened to cut him off.

“Every year, as the fire’s rage & California burns, it is the same thing—and then he comes to the Federal Government for $$$ help. No more,” the president tweeted.

He then tweaked Newsom’s leadership: “Get your act together Governor.”

The governor responded a short time later.

“We’re successfully waging war against thousands of fires started across the state in the last few weeks due to extreme weather created by climate change while Trump is conducting a full on assault against the antidotes,” he told POLITICO in a statement.

His office also pushed back hard against Trump, noting that the governor’s fire prevention and management projects included an investment of $225.8 million to help streamline programs specifically aimed at “reducing fuels in the forest, increasing forest health, and defensible space around homes.’’ The governor’s office in addition said there are currently 35 priority projects in addition to the redeployment of National Guard personnel to assist the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in controlling the fires.

Newsom in recent weeks has laid into PG&E, the investor-owned utility that has been blamed for sparking catastrophic fires because of its outdated equipment and failed infrastructure. He has said he may explore a takeover of the utility unless it emerges from bankruptcy with a solid plan to protect California homeowners and consumers and avoid widespread outages before the 2020 fire season.

Sunday was not the first time the president has vowed to withdraw federal funding from the state — though he has never made good on the threat. He did so in January, saying that “unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money.”

After that tweet, following the Paradise-based Camp Fire, which killed more than 80 people, Newsom responded that “disasters and recovery are no time for politics,’’ and said the state was working hard to “modernize and manage our forest and emergency responses.”

Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, cited the governor’s leadership in directing the agency to pursue 35 priority projects to reduce wildfire risk in vulnerable communities. That’s in addition to Cal Fire’s regularly scheduled prescribed burns and fuel reductions, he added.

“We are in a good place, and we’re very active,” McLean said.

He added that California experienced one of its “best winters in a long time,” meaning that state firefighters now had enough water access to combat blazes. McLean also noted that oversight of the state’s land was divided between local governments, Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service — meaning the Trump-controlled federal agency had some responsibility for the current situation, too.

Trump’s string of tweets on California kicked off Sunday with: “ The Governor of California@GavinNewsom has done a terrible job of forest management. I told him from the first day we met that he must ‘clean’ his forest floors regardless of what his bosses, the environmentalists, DEMAND of him. Must also do burns and cut fire stoppers.”

He finished: “But our teams are working well together in….. … putting these massive, and many, fires out. Great firefighters! Also, open up the ridiculously closed water lanes coming down from the North. Don’t pour it out into the Pacific Ocean. Should be done immediately. California desperately needs water, and you can have it now!”

Trump Administration Moves To Expand Logging In Nation’s Largest National Forest

The Trump administration is proposing to exempt Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from long-standing protections against logging and development, opening the door for potential timber harvesting on 165,000 acres of old-growth forest.

The proposal, announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, comes in response to a request from the state, which wants to be fully exempted from a Clinton-era rule that limits road construction and timber harvesting in tens of millions of acres of national forest.

State officials, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), have asked the Trump administration for a “full exemption” from the 2001 Roadless Rule, which limits road construction and timber harvests. They argue that the protections are stifling the local economy.

“We have to be able to have a plan that is specific to us,” Murkowski told Alaska Public Radio in August, explaining that she spoke with the Trump administration early on about addressing the Roadless Rule.

Owen Graham, President of Alaska Forest Association, tells Alaska’s Energy Desk that Tuesday’s announcement a “great thing.”

“What we want is year-round manufacturing jobs and a lot more stability,” he says.

But, he says, this is just one step in the right direction. Retaliation tariffs placed on logs shipped to China have been hitting some sectors of the small industry hard. Graham is uncertain how long it will take to see big systemic changes in how the Tongass National Forest is managed.

“Right now the industry’s just crumbling apart. There’s hardly anybody left,” he says. “Every year we lose more of our loggers because there’s not enough to keep everyone going.”

But conservation groups say that removing protections would hurt the region’s fishing and tourism industries, while also worsening the effects of climate change.

The Tongass National Forest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in North America. Temperate rainforests sequester huge amounts of carbon dioxide, keeping the climate-warming gas out of the atmosphere.

“By seeking to weaken the Roadless Rule’s protections, the Forest Service is prioritizing one forest use — harmful logging — over mitigating climate change, protecting wildlife habitat, and offering unmatched sight-seeing and recreation opportunities found only in southeast Alaska,” said Josh Hicks of The Wilderness Society in a statement.

Tribal governments in Alaska also oppose lifting protections against logging.

Joel Jackson is President of the Organized Village of Kake, a remote village that depends on the wild food the Tongass provides. Historically, large-scale industrial logging damaged salmon streams.

“You know it’s sad that we have to continue to fight our own government to protect our forests and streams,” Jackson tells Alaska’s Energy Desk.

He says the Organized Village of Kake is considering filing a lawsuit against the Forest Service. “We don’t throw our hands up in the air,” he says. “We just buckle down and start talking [about] what’s the next step.”

The Forest Service’s proposal outlines six potential paths forward for the Tongass National Forest, ranging from doing nothing to removing protections for all of the forests 9.2 million acres of roadless area.

The agency says it prefers the latter, more extreme option. It would convert 165,000 acres of old-growth forest and 20,000 acres of young-growth that had been “previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.”

A formal notice is expected to be published in the Federal Register later this week.

The Forest Service says it will hold a series of public meetings on the proposal and open it to public comment through Dec. 17, with a final decision by 2020.

[NPR]

Trump Again Attacks Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

President Donald Trump is using his Twitter account to once again attack teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, this time to amplify a snide dismissal of her public appearances as “acting.”

The commander-in-chief on Thursday jabbed at the Swedish 16-year-old: He retweeted and praised a Twitter user who criticized the passionate speech Thunberg gave at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City late last month.

A user by the name of @Opinion8dKellie shared video of Thunberg’s speech, in which the teen slammed world leaders for what she said was more interest in making money than in saving the planet by reducing carbon emissions.

“What an actress!” the user, @Opinion8dKellie, tweeted, adding, “I won’t be held hostage by someone who just got a learner’s permit. Sorry kiddo!”

Though the tweet was written on Sept. 23, Trump, 73, retweeted it Thursday morning.

“Keep up the great work Kellie!” he wrote.

In the original tweet, @Opinion8dKellie also referred dismissively to when a visibly aggrieved Thunberg said at the U.N.: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”

[People]

Trump mocks teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg

President Donald Trump mocked Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter late Monday night after the 16-year-old excoriated world leaders for not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis.

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Trump posted on Twitter, replying to a video of Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations climate action summit earlier in the day.

Trump’s penchant for Twitter insults and online confrontations with people he sees as political adversaries is well known, though Monday’s tweet is a striking display of the President teasing a child.

Thunberg appeared to take Trump’s slight in stride. By late Tuesday morning, she had updated her Twitter bio to read: “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”

In the video shared by Trump of her speech, Thunberg is visibly frustrated and at times appears to be holding back tears of anger as she dresses down the UN General Assembly.

“People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunberg said.

She did not name Trump or any other world leaders in her speech, but her message was pointed.

“How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight,” she said. “You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency, but no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act then you would be evil and that I refuse to believe.”

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who recently withdrew his support for Trump, criticized the President for his comment about Thunberg.

“Parents in America and around the world: he went after a 16 year old girl yesterday. ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ unfit to serve,” Scaramucci tweeted on Tuesday.

Trump briefly attended the UN climate summit on Monday in an impromptu stop on his way to his administration’s priority event on religious freedom. But the US did not speak at the event and Trump — who has repeatedly said he thinks climate change is a hoax — left after 15 minutes.

Thunberg, who has helped galvanize a global movement demanding more action to address climate change, crossed paths with Trump at the UN General Assembly. Video captured her staring down the US President.

The young Swede has been open about her diagnosis of Asperger’s, calling it a “superpower” that helps her activism.

“My diagnosis has definitely helped me keep this focus. When you are interested about something you just continue to read about it and you get super focused,” she told CNN’s Bill Weir in an interview this month.

[CNN]

Trump administration warns California its tailpipe deal could violate federal law

The Trump administration sent a warning to California officials Friday, stating that a recent agreement the state made with automakers over tailpipe pollution could violate the law.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation offered the warning in a joint letter to the head of the California Air and Resources Board (CARB) that said its “framework” agreement with four car manufacturers could be a problem.

“The purpose of this letter is to put California on notice that this framework agreement appears to be inconsistent with federal law,” the letter from DOT and EPA’s chief counsels wrote.

The administration is arguing that the state lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to set fuel economy standards in conjunction with the car makers.

“Congress has squarely vested the authority to set fuel economy standards for new motor vehicles, and nationwide standards for [greenhouse gas] vehicle emissions, with the federal government, not with California or any other state,” the letter read.

Mary Nichols, the CARB chairwoman, announced in July that the state had reached an agreement with BMW, Ford, Volkswagen and Honda over the emissions standards for future cars. The news came as the Trump administration is working to finalize a national fuel economy standard that is expected to weaken tailpipe emissions standards.

California has long argued that under the Clean Air Act, it has an exemption to set higher emissions standards due to the state’s history of poor air quality. More than a dozen other states have adopted California’s heightened standards.

CARB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom compared the Trump administration’s tactics to those of a bully.

“The Trump Administration has been attempting and failing to bully car companies for months now. We remain undeterred. California stands up to bullies and will keep fighting for stronger clean car protections that protect the health and safety of our children and families,” Newsom said in a statement provided to The Hill.

Trump administration officials argue in the letter that the deal with automakers likely goes beyond the scope of those rights.

“CARB’s actions in furtherance of the framework appear to be unlawful and invalid. We recognize California’s disagreements with the Federal government’s policy proposals in this area, but those policy disagreements cannot justify CARB’s pursuit of a regulatory approach that would violate federal law,” reads the letter.

The administration’s warning comes amidst reports that the White House is considering splitting its forthcoming emissions rule into two parts in order to finalize it more quickly. The first part of the rule would include stripping California of its waiver, according to sources with knowledge of the administration’s plans. Any rule put forward by the administration is likely to be challenged in court by California and environmentalist groups that argue the law forbids agencies from weakening pollution standards.

President Trump has made no secret of his frustration with the Golden State over its negotiations with the four automakers.

“Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs don’t want to fight California regulators. Car companies should know that when this Administration’s alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin. Only reason California is now talking to them is because the Feds are giving a far better alternative, which is much better for consumers!” Trump tweeted late last month.

[The Hill]

Trump Campaign Edits CNN Climate Special to Lie About Elizabeth Warren

President Donald Trump‘s reelection campaign posted an edited video in order to lie about Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren‘s remarks at a CNN climate change town hall, falsely insisting that she and the Democrats are coming for “Americans’ straws, cheeseburgers, and light bulbs.”

In a tweet that was flagged by Politico’s Alex Thompson, the so-called “Trump War Room” posted a clip of Warren that cuts off in mid-answer, along with their claim that “Elizabeth Warren and the radical Green New Deal Democrats have their eyes set on Americans’ straws, cheeseburgers, and light bulbs to ‘change our energy consumption.’ And that’s just the beginning!”

But the full exchange makes clear that Warren was saying the opposite, that while she supports individual action on those issues, they are distractions from policies aimed at carbon pollution.

On Wednesday night, moderator Chris Cuomo told Warren “Today the president announced plans to roll back energy-saving lightbulbs, and he wants to reintroduce four different kinds, which I’m not going to burden you with, but one of them is the candle-shaped ones, and those are a favorite for a lot of people, by the way,” and asked “But do you think that the government should be in the business of telling you what kind of lightbulb you can have?”

“Oh, come on, give me a break,” Warren began, as Cuomo asked “Is that a yes?”

“No,” Warren replied, adding that “there are a lot of ways that we try to change our energy consumption, and our pollution, and God bless all of those ways. Some of it is with lightbulbs, some of it is on straws, some of it, dang, is on cheeseburgers, right? There are a lot of different pieces to this. And I get that people are trying to find the part that they can work on and what can they do. And I’m in favor of that. And I’m going to help and I’m going to support.”

[Mediaite]

Trump blasts CNN for ignoring ‘facts’ on climate ahead of 2020 forum

President Donald Trump blasted CNN Wednesday afternoon just ahead of its climate-focused Democratic presidential forum, arguing it would likely ignore key “facts.”

“8 FACTS that #FakeNewsCNN will ignore in tonight’s ‘Climate Forum,'” Trump said in a series of tweets.

The president went on to list points defending the role his administration has played in cleaning the country’s air and reducing emissions, echoing similar talking points he made during his July White House speech on America’s energy leadership.

“1. Which country has the largest carbon emission reduction? AMERICA! 2. Who has dumped the most carbon into the air? CHINA! 3. 91% of the world’s population are exposed to air pollution above the World Health Organization’s suggested level. NONE ARE IN THE U.S.A.!” he said in the thread.

Trump touted America’s leadership in “world energy production” and claimed the U.S. leads on clean air and water.

He also warned that the Democrats’ various climate plans would all lead to increases in energy bills and gasoline costs.

The U.S. last year became the top global producer of natural gas, a point Trump has routinely boasted as he compared the country’s energy dominance with its environmental cleanliness.

However, recent federal reports show that carbon emissions cuts are slowing down under Trump and that bad air days have increased.

Many of the Democratic candidates say their climate plans would provide support to households, especially in low-income communities, to help with the clean energy transition. Some note that cost increases are necessary in the face of the looming climate crisis.

Trump’s tweets come as CNN hosts the country’s first town hall focused entirely on climate change. The seven-hour event will host the top 10 highest-polling Democratic presidential hopefuls, all of whom have rolled out their own plans to fight climate change.

Many of those plans run directly counter to Trump’s policies, including placing moratoriums on drilling on public land, ending fracking, and transitioning away from coal and natural gas.

[The Hill]

Trump skips G7 climate summit with aides lying about scheduling conflict

President Donald Trump skipped a session devoted to climate change at the G7 summit here, a snub aides wrote off as a scheduling conflict but nonetheless reflects Trump’s isolation on the issue.

As other leaders were taking their seats around a large round table, the chair reserved for Trump sat empty. The summit’s host, French President Emmanuel Macron, gaveled the meeting to order anyway and launched into an explanation of a wrist watch made from recycled plastic.

Later, the White House said Trump’s schedule prevented his attendance.

“The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead,” press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

But the leaders of both those countries — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — were both seen attending, at least for the start of the session.

An official said the staffer who replaced Trump worked for the National Security Council.

Speaking afterward, Macron seemed to shrug off Trump’s absence.

“He wasn’t in the room, but his team was,” Macron said at a news conference. He urged reporters not to read too much into Trump’s decision to skip the session, insisting the US is aligned with the rest of the G7 on issues of biodiversity and combating fires in the Amazon rainforest.

Still, Macron acknowledged Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord — a move that angered European nations, who remain part of the pact. Macron said it was no longer his goal to convince Trump to return to the agreement.

In the lead-up to the G7, Trump’s aides said he wasn’t entirely interested in the climate portions of the summit, believing them a waste of time compared to discussion of the economy.

After past G7s, Trump complained that too much time was spent on issues he deemed unimportant, like clearing oceans of plastics.

But Macron made climate one of the main focuses of this year’s gathering anyway, scheduling the session on Monday and insisting the leaders address the Amazon fires.

That was bound to create divisions between Trump and the other leaders. Trump has loosened environmental regulations in the United States, even as he claims that water and air are at their cleanest levels ever.

[CNN]

Top Climate Scientist Quits USDA, Accuses Trump Administration of Trying to Bury Research

Lewis Ziska, one of the United States’ leading climate-change scientists, has quit the USDA’s Agriculture Department and says he’s protesting the Trump administration’s attempts to bury one of his studies. The study, which was published in Science Advances, was about how rice loses nutrients to the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere—which has implications for the 600 million people who depend on rice for most of their calories. Ziska, who’s worked at the USDA for 20 years, says the Trump administration questioned the findings of his study and attempted to minimize its press coverage. “This was a joint decision by ARS national program leaders—all career scientists—not to send out a press release on this paper,” a statement released by the USDA said in response to Ziska’s complaint.

Several government employees recently reported that they’d lost their jobs over climate-change disagreements and a Politico investigation showed that the USDA regularly buried its own climate-research discoveries. “You get the sense that things have changed, that this is not a place for you to be exploring things that don’t agree with someone’s political views,” Ziska said.

[Daily Beast]

1 2 3 8