PUSH TO SAVE ADVISORY PANELS: A California lawmaker along with a group of former committee advisors are challenging the White House’s recent decision to terminate two federal advisory boards that oversee species.
In separate letters sent to the White House and the Commerce Department Thursday, each party asked the administration to reconsider eliminating the National Invasive Species Council and the Marine Protected Areas Advisory Committee. Both committees had been advising the Interior and Commerce Departments respectively for more than a decade. The agencies first confirmed the end of the councils to The Hill on Tuesday.
In a letter to the White House Thursday, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) urged the director of legislative affairs, Eric Ueland, to reconsider the decision “given the importance of this council for combating invasive species.”
Harder in particular warned of the detrimental effect the loss of the committee might have on his district’s efforts to fight the nutria, a large invasive rodent population overrunning parts of California.
“The ramifications of undermining or slowing down this effort could be costly for the state and federal government. This is an extreme situation,” he wrote.
“We require the full force of all federal partners in this fight. Disbanding the NISC when we face such an imminent threat is imprudent.”
In a separate letter sent to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Thursday, 30 former members of the Marine Protected Areas Advisory Committee wrote to express their “shock and disappointment” at the decision to eliminate the committee and asked for a decision reversal.
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A CLIMATE CHANGE FIX VS A CLIMATE CHANGE NIX: The White House removed language calling climate change a “serious challenge” from a proposal that limits California’s ability to set tougher vehicle emissions standards, according to reporting from E&E News.
A draft of the document obtained by E&E shows the White House striking the phrase “while global climate change is a serious challenge” before explaining its rationale for why California should not be allowed to set more stringent emissions standards than the federal government.
The changes were made to the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule proposed by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
President Trump announced last month on Twitter that he was revoking the waiver California has relied on for more than 50 years to mandate tougher emissions standards. Thirteen other states also use the California standards.
The move spurred swift legal action from both the state and numerous environmental groups.
The draft reviewed by E&E also shows the White House removed a reference to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which painted a stark picture of how climate change will impact the planet.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The Trump administration has been repeatedly accused of burying reports that show the dangers of climate change, spurring a report from Senate Democrats that found the U.S. Department of Agriculture alone failed to publicize 1,400 studies that deal with the topic.
THE GAME IS ON: A sports hunting advocacy group is offering the chance to hunt deer with Donald Trump Jr., whom the group calls a “modern-day Teddy Roosevelt.”
For $10 per raffle ticket, people can purchase the chance to win a three-day Pennsylvania trip to hunt whitetail deer with President Trump’s oldest son.
“You will have to go a long way to find a bigger advocate for our hunting lifestyle, a more passionate hunter and conservationist than Don, Jr. The opportunity to share a hunting camp with him is truly priceless,” writes Hunter Nation, the group operating the raffle.
“Gain a new perspective on real-life conservation from one the leading experts on the subject, all while you hunt one of the most popular big game animals on earth,” they wrote.
Applicants have until Oct. 15 to buy tickets. The hunt is planned for December, according to the group’s website.
Trump Jr. has long been an advocate for U.S. hunting as well as big game trophy hunting, having in the past posed in pictures next to safari kills.
This is at least the second time Hunter Nation has raffled off the chance to spend time hunting with Trump Jr., in what appears to be a working relationship between the advocacy group and the younger Trump. The group in February raffled off a five-day elk hunting trip with Trump Jr. in Utah.
Hunter Nation did not immediately return a request for comment.
Trump Jr. is an executive vice president with the Trump Organization who also works extensively on his father’s 2020 campaign. It was reported that he played an integral part in the hiring of former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who himself was a member of the congressional sportsmen foundation and a vocal hunting advocate.
It is unclear how the proceeds from the sweepstakes are shared between Trump Jr. and Hunter Nation, which says it works toward land conservation and legislative action.
PENNSYLVANIA JOINS POLLUTION PACT: Pennsylvania will join a coalition of nine other Northeast states that cap the amount of pollution power plants can emit.
Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order Thursday that commits the state to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which requires power plants to buy credits for the carbon pollution they emit.
“Climate change is the most critical environmental threat confronting the world, and power generation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions,” Wolf said in a release. “Given the urgency of the climate crisis facing Pennsylvania and the entire planet, the commonwealth must continue to take concrete, economically sound and immediate steps to reduce emissions.”
Utilities are the second-largest source of carbon pollution in the country. The funds raised through the cap and trade program are then invested in efforts to reduce energy consumption, like energy efficiency programs, or efforts to boost clean electricity.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont are the other members of RGGI.
RGGI’s goals, primarily to reduce carbon pollution, could be a big undertaking for a state that is still reliant on fossil fuels.
Pennsylvania gets more than half of its electricity from natural gas and coal, both of which emit carbon when burned.
The state’s economy also remains reliant on the fossil fuel sector. Pennsylvania is one of the biggest producers and consumers of natural gas and is also the nation’s fourth largest producer of coal.
Growth in RGGI comes as many of the same states are considering a similar program to limit carbon pollution from transportation.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
-UK climate activists’ plan to spray government building with fake blood goes awry after losing control of machine, we report.
-Solar permits more than doubled in D.C. last year, WAMU reports.
-Judge: Carnival Cruise Line not doing enough to clean up its act after pollution conviction, USA TODAY reports.
ICYMI: Stories from Thursday…
Pennsylvania joins coalition requiring utilities to curb carbon emissions
Raffle offers deer hunt with ‘modern-day Teddy Roosevelt’ Donald Trump Jr.
UK climate activists’ plan to spray government building with fake blood goes awry after losing control of machine
Odds place Greta Thunberg as frontrunner for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize
White House nixes climate change language from vehicle emissions proposal