Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Top Ag Democrat, Opposes Trump USDA Science Nominee Sam Clovis

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:43:00 GMT


Sen. Debbie Stabenow; Sam Clovis
In a letter to supporters, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, announced her opposition to President Trump’s nominee to be the top scientist at the Department of Agriculture, Sam Clovis. She highlighted his lack of professional qualifications as well as his “absurd” statements on climate change, LGBTQ issues, and race.

“I’m opposing President Trump’s nomination of Clovis for Chief Scientist in the Department of Agriculture,” Stabenow wrote. “As ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, I oppose his nomination and I call on President Trump to withdraw it immediately. If he does not, I will lead the opposition and promise to bring his troubling record to light.”

Clovis, a right-wing talk show host from Iowa who ran a failed campaign for the Republican Senate nomination and held a senior position in the Trump election campaign, has a long history of prejudicial and anti-science statements. In a 2011 blog post, Clovis called progressives “race traitors.” He believes climate change is “junk science.” He said Trump’s border wall is a “matter of national security and national sovereignty.” Clovis said the science was still out but “as far as we know” homosexuality is a choice.

Clovis helped devise Trump’s Muslim ban, and has claimed that Barack Obama was not born in Honolulu. He called Eric Holder a “racist black,” Tom Perez a “racist Latino,” and claimed that President Obama “wants to enslave all who are not part of his regime.”

Clovis’ positions on agriculture policy are similarly radical: he has consistently opposed federal crop insurance, calling for it to be privatized in a 2014 interview and questioning its constitutionality in a 2013 radio interview.

In July, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas said at an Agriculture Committee hearing, “If there is some nominee who is coming before the committee who says crop insurance is unconstitutional, they might as well not show up.”

The law requires that the USDA’s Chief Scientist be chosen from “distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.” Clovis has no such experience.

Stabenow joins Democratic senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, and Kamala Harris of California in opposition to Clovis. She is the first member of the Agriculture Committee to formally oppose Clovis’ nomination.

A broad and growing coalition of agriculture, climate-justice, environment, science, and civil rights groups have forcefully opposed the Clovis nomination.

Stabenow’s letter is below:

Subject: PETITION: Say no to Sam Clovis
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2017 14:26:08 +0000
From: Debbie Stabenow

We have a right to expect that only the best, most qualified individuals will be nominated for leadership jobs in our government.

That’s not Sam Clovis.

I’m opposing President Trump’s nomination of Clovis for Chief Scientist in the Department of Agriculture.

Why?

First, Sam Clovis isn’t a scientist, a qualification required by law to be Chief Scientist in the Department of Agriculture. Clovis himself made this lack of qualification abundantly clear when he stated that he was “extremely skeptical” of proven climate change science.

Second, his absurd statements on LGBTQ issues, race and President Obama totally disqualify him from consideration.

As ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, I oppose his nomination and I call on President Trump to withdraw it immediately. If he does not, I will lead the opposition and promise to bring his troubling record to light.

I won’t shy away from asking the hard questions about his ability to carry out this critically important job for Michigan.

Sign on now and stand with me in telling President Trump to withdraw Sam Clovis’ nomination for Chief Scientist.

Thanks,

Debbie Stabenow United States Senator

Trump Nominates Crude-By-Rail Executive Skip Elliott As PHMSA Administrator

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 11 Sep 2017 14:23:00 GMT

Skip ElliottLate Friday, the Trump administration announced it was nominating CSX executive Howard R. “Skip” Elliott to be Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in the U.S. Department of Transportation.

PHMSA, with the Federal Railroad Administration, holds regulatory responsibility for pipeline transportation of flammable, toxic, or corrosive natural gas and other gases, the transportation and storage of liquefied natural gas, and hazardous materials transported in railroad tank cars.

CSX dominates crude-by-rail transport east of the Mississippi, bringing explosive oil trains through major metropolitan centers on a daily basis.

This position, along with Trump’s successful nominations of Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners, will smooth the initiation of currently stalled fracked-gas pipeline projects.

As group Vice President of Public Safety, Health, Environment and Security for CSX Transportation in Jacksonville, Fla., Elliott’s responsibilities include hazardous materials transportation safety, homeland security, railroad policing, crisis management, environmental compliance and operations, occupational health management and continuity of business operations. He is a graduate of Columbia Southern University and Indiana University.

In 2011, Elliott led CSX’s participation in the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) 2011 Climate Corps program, which places specially-trained graduate students in a three-month fellowship.

CSX has invested over one billion dollars in higher fuel efficiency, with the ironic result of the more efficient transport of and thus increased production of highly polluting tar-sands oil.

Pruitt Puts Environmental Justice Under The Control of Koch Operative Samantha Dravis

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 08 Sep 2017 17:04:00 GMT

Samantha DravisAn email sent by EPA associate administrator for the Office of Policy Samantha Dravis, a long-time Republican operative, outlines organizational structure changes that put the Office of Environmental Justice and Office of Federal Activities under her control.

Dravis previously ran EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s industry-funded, anti-regulatory dark-money group, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, when he was Oklahoma Attorney General. She was also legal counsel at the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce dark-money group. Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2017 8:17 PM
To: OP-Everyone
Subject: Announcement

From: Kime, Robin On Behalf Of Dravis, Samantha

Dear Colleagues,

For the past several months I’ve had the pleasure of learning about the many ways the Office of Policy (OP) contributes to the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency. The analysis and support we provide for the agency’s most critical functions is of the utmost importance to me. As a cross-media and cross-agency office, I believe that the following changes to OP’s organization will enhance our ability to advance Administrator Pruitt’s priorities in line with EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.

Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ): In order to better serve overburdened communities, OEJ will join the Office of Policy. OEJ will work in partnership with the Office of Sustainable Communities, which will be renamed the Office of Community Revitalization. It is important to both Administrator Pruitt and myself that the most underserved and overburdened communities have a meaningful say in environmental protection and regulation. EPA has, and will continue to consider and incorporate environmental justice concerns into our regulatory process and this move enhances our ability to achieve this core function. It will also enable EPA’s EJ program to maximize its ability to support meaningful engagement and public participation across the agency and lead federal level coordination to consider overburdened community needs and the application of federal resources to meet those needs. Moving OEJ to OP allows OECA, where OEJ was previously located, to focus on its mission of enforcement and compliance assurance.

Office of Federal Activities (OFA): OFA will join the Office of Policy where it will continue to carry out its vital responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Also within OFA will be a Permitting Policy Division to build on the successful streamlining efforts in the NEPA program. Together, these organizations will focus on two of the Administration’s top priorities: expediting federal infrastructure projects and streamlining permitting processes. This move will reform the agency’s permitting and NEPA roles that will streamline the entire environmental review process and reduce subjectivity, providing our stakeholders with more clarity and certainty on their projects; ensure staff are able to quickly elevate high visibility issues to the Administrator for resolution; coordinate with the permitting AAs which will allow the agency to drive solutions to expedite the entire environmental review process, as directed by the President under Executive Order 13766, under one central office; and continue the progress that has already been made to strengthen the NEPA program and our partnerships with our sister federal agencies. OFA staff who work on hazardous waste transport issues will move to the Office of Land and Emergency Management, where complementary work resides.

Sectors Team: I have established a Sectors Team within the Office of Policy’s Immediate Office to work with staff across OP and the agency. The Sectors Team will develop strategies that better protect human health and the environment by engaging with partners at all levels to ensure the agency puts forth sensible regulations that encourage economic growth. This team will coordinate with stakeholders to better understand their needs and challenges so as to improve environmental performance and inform smarter and more predictable rulemaking. This work will build upon our experience with the Sector Strategies Program as well as our ongoing work in regulatory and permitting reform.

Operations Office: Over the course of the last year, the Operations Team in the OP Immediate Office started efforts to streamline and improve our administrative and operational activities. To further these efforts, I have established an Operations Office, through which we will consolidate our operations and administrative support functions, leading to increased efficiency and enhanced processes.

Office of Strategic Environmental Management: To fully staff OP’s priorities, including the new functions noted above, many OSEM staff will be reassigned to OFA, ORPM, NCEE, and other areas where additional staffing is critical to meeting OP’s core mission and the Administration’s goals. I appreciate the unique skills and leadership OSEM has brought to numerous cross-cutting EPA priorities over the years and believe that OP’s new organizational structure will allow us to better harness their talents. The team will concentrate on streamlining the agency’s operations, especially in programmatic areas such as permitting.

The new responsibilities outlined here are a testament to OP’s valued expertise and its many past successes. I am excited about the new opportunities for OP, and how we can help the agency achieve its mission of protecting human health and the environment more efficiently and effectively for the American people.

Samantha