Mike, why are you going after President Trump and his administration over their positions on funding basic research and climate science?
To start to answer the question, I offer you the first few paragraphs which arrived in my 'inbox' on Monday morning from 'Politico Energy' shown below:
A NEW CA-vs.-EPA SHOWDOWN: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is the latest Democratic official from the Golden State to take on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt - this time with a public records lawsuit alleging he has failed to promptly hand over documents related to his ethics arrangements. Becerra filed the suit Friday, Pro's Alex Guillén reports . Pruitt, a prolific litigant challenging the Obama-era EPA, has agreed to stay away from lawsuits over the various rules he challenged in court, such as the Clean Power Plan or Waters of the U.S., although he says he is not barred from working to roll back the rules themselves. Becerra asked for documents outlining Pruitt's "compliance with federal ethics regulations and obligations" as well as agency "policies and procedures for determining who (if anyone) can assume the powers of the Administrator if he is recused or disqualified from participating in a matter."EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said agency staff had reached out twice to Becerra's office to say they were working on a response. "It's unfortunate that California is suing the Agency, draining resources that could be better spent protecting human health and the environment - rather than working with EPA's career staff, as they can gather all the information requested," she said in a statement.A few hours after Becerra filed his suit, the New York Times dropped a big report documenting limits on access to EPA - for both the public, press and even agency staff. Citing interviews with 20 current and former staffers, the Times reported that EPA employees now must leave their cellphones before meeting with Pruitt and must have an escort to see the administrator, who is accompanied by his armed security staff even at agency headquarters. ("None of this is true," Bowman told the Times. "It's all rumors.")Pruitt's tactics aren't just controversial at agency headquarters. He's frequently met with tightly-screened industry groups and opted for interviews with friendly media figures. It was three such closed events in North Dakota that earned Pruitt a rebuke from Republican Sen. John Hoeven. "I think (meetings) should be open," he said, according to The Bismarck Tribune. "I guess I saw no reason not to have it open," he said.But Pruitt isn't shifting approaches either. He leaned into a brewing controversy over a major federal climate change report blaming human activity for climate change, promising he and his staff would gauge the "accuracy" of its findings. It's a bizarre promise, Pro's Emily Holden reports , given Pruitt's concern over so-called politicization of science and the fact the report has already undergone "rigorous" peer-review by a 14-person committee at the National Academies with 132 pages of suggestions from the reviewers already incorporated into the final version. "It's a much more extensive process than a usual peer review, which does not typically come out as a paperback book," said Bob Kopp, a lead report author and climate scientist at Rutgers University.The administrator also dismissed the discussion over the role of human activity in climate change during a Texas radio show last week as "political" and a "wedge issue." "Why aren't we celebrating what we're achieving with respect to CO2 ... why do we continue to engage in this political football?" he said. Multiple science organizations have sought meetings with Pruitt to discuss why he doesn't acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change.
In a daily e-mail from 'Politico Energy' I might find the daily briefings/meetings which are being held on capitol hill with links. Additionally, a few controversial items that are being entertained by congress to pay attention to. Lately though, I find that these e-mails are filled with a common theme regarding decisions being made at the federal agency level:
The Trump Administration has filled or not filled top federal agency positions with 'non-scientist' and has disregarded science altogether.
The above realization is absolutely astounding to say the least. I am amazed that the position of 'Office of Science and Technology' still has no director. I would at least expect President Trump to fill the position with someone with a science background. The filled position does not in any way mean that the advice will be listened to by the President himself.
On the other hand, you have the Environmental Protection Agency filled with a director whose previous job it was to sue the EPA? How does that work out?
The President is authorized to nominate any one person who he/she feels is fit to fill the position of the Environmental Protection Agency. Furthermore, the position does not necessarily need to be filled with a person whose background involved a career in science. Although, one would expect the director of the EPA to maintain an 'open mind' when entertaining problems and solutions. Keeping an 'open mind' does not mean ignoring scientific data.
Recently, congress sent Director Scott Pruitt a request for information regarding a 'climate change' debate which he wants to hold in the future. Congress has an issue (and rightly so) with Scott Pruitt's lack of understanding of the proven scientific data. Just before the letter was sent, congress recently debated the incorporation of words like 'climate change' or 'climate science' into the budget books of the Department of Defense. Luckily, congress was level headed and rejected the motion to remove any language associated with climate change. The result of which could have been catastrophic in future funding toward a sustainable future.
Time and time again, over the last 7 months, the current administration is determined to undermine credible (and peer-reviewed) data which supports the emerging effects of climate change. In the excerpts above (specifically excerpt 2), an EPA spokesperson Bowman suggests that the current lawsuit is using up critical funds which typically is spent on resources to protect our nations infrastructure. From what has been reported, the funds were never going to be spent on protecting the nation's water and environmental issues. The money would be spent on legal battles trying to reverse the much needed forward momentum which President Obama has made over the last 8 years.
Here is a thought to leave you with. I was listening to a podcast recently where an oil executive was interviewed about his position on the laws enacted in the last 8 years under the Obama administration. Specifically, about the transition of changing coal and power plants to emit 'cleaner' emissions -- i.e. scrubbing technology. The executive was rather annoyed with the current administrations (Trump administration) effort to tie up the courts with trying to reverse the "Clean Power Plan." This surprised me to say the least. The reason why the executive was annoyed with the legal battle which was ensuing was because the executive's company had already spent a few million dollars on changing the plant to emit 'cleaner emissions'. Now, with the possibility of winning a legal battle under the "Clean Power Plan" these plants would not have to change. Who cares?
The situation described with the legal battle on behalf of the Trump administration really did not matter. The oil executive stated that the changes are already instated and why would he change the plant configuration from 'clean emissions' back to 'dirty emissions'. Doing so would make little sense at all. This story seems to resonate with power plants which have already transitioned over the last few years toward emitting 'cleaner emissions.' Basically, the measures which President Trump is claiming to help industries are making little gain for them.
What we are left with is the current situation in the Trump administration. One where the absence of science (and reason) is replaced with politics. Politics which make little sense. The story of the environmental changes on behalf of the oil executive above illustrate this point. Which leaves the component of 'politics' clearly in play in the current situation. There is a bipartisan effort to help the Trump administration understand that scientific data supports that 'climate change' is real and needs to be dealt with. How to do so correctly heading into the future remains to be decided upon. Currently, there is momentum toward a better future. The change has already occurred -- toward a greener/sustainable future. We should continue this forward momentum.