Tag Archives: ethics

Scott Pruitt: Unfathomable Transgressions

Reporter On New Email Dump That Reveals Secret Inner Workings Of The EPA

May 9, 20182:05 PM ET
Heard on Fresh Air

New York Times
reporter Eric Lipton says the response to a recent FOIA request shows that Scott Pruitt and his staff have gone to great lengths to keep the public and the news media at a distance.

[Selected quotes]

ERIC LIPTON: One after another, Scott Pruitt has gone after the Obama-era regulations intended to clean the nation’s air and water and to limit the pace of climate change, and he’s been eliminating them – at least, attempting to. And so for Trump, you know, it’s hard to think about getting rid of a guy who is really executing on your strategy perhaps more effectively than any other member of the Cabinet.

[ . . . ]

LIPTON: Well, for example, he was going in August to Nevada, Iowa, to meet with a cattle rancher and to talk about his intention to roll back a Obama-era program that’s supposed to protect drinking water supplies. It’s called Waters of the U.S. And so Pruitt is in the process of repealing that regulation, and farmers did not like it because it was going to restrict their ability to work some of their land, potentially. So he went to this place where the cattle ranches worked. And it was supposed to be what they call invite-only press, which means you pick certain reporters who you know are friendly, you invite them and you don’t tell anyone else.

[ . . . ]

LIPTON: I actually have in front of me here a copy of his agenda from that trip, which was June 8 through June 10 of 2017. And we just got this full agenda last week through the Freedom of Information Act. And so what it shows you when you look at it is that while he spent just on the airfare alone $16,000 – and The Washington Post has added up numbers. I haven’t actually done this myself – to say that they think that the trip costs about $100,000. But what the agenda shows you is that most of the time that he was in Italy on the ground, he was actually sightseeing. He visited the Vatican Library. He visited the palace for a whole afternoon. Another part of the – he went to an underground area in the Vatican, which is very hard to get a tour of. He had dinner at La Terrazza – at a restaurant at the Hotel Eden, which is one of the most expensive restaurants in Rome. He had dinner at another restaurant called Al Ceppo.

He had that dinner with Leonard Leo who is the head of the Federalist Society, which is a group that’s working with other anti-regulatory groups to try to get reductions in Obama-era regulations and get judges appointed to federal courts. He had dinner there at Al Ceppo with Leonard Leo, and Leonard Leo paid for that dinner. And only after The New York Times asked about whether or not Leonard Leo paid for that dinner – because we’d heard that he had – did the agency tell us that Pruitt had reimbursed Leonard Leo for that dinner. And so, I mean, again, what the agenda tells us from that trip is that most of the time, he was sightseeing. And then among the meetings he actually had – as I literally sit here and page through it – was one meeting that he had is – he met with a bunch of executives from major United States chemical companies, like Chemours and DuPont and 3M. But these are the Italian executives of their affiliates in Italy. He had a roundtable with business leaders on environmental innovation at the Embassy of the United States in Rome. And then he also met with the charge d’affaires at the Embassy of the United States, and he met with some officials from the Vatican. But for the most part, he was sightseeing.

[ . . . ]

LIPTON: I was writing about state attorneys general and what I perceived as their conflicts of interest as they were taking millions of dollars in contributions from companies that they were investigating – pharmaceutical companies, auto companies and, you know, across the board, food companies. And as I began to investigate the state attorneys general – because at the time, I was writing about lobbying out of Washington – and I saw that the – that corporations were beginning to lobby attorneys general more. I saw that there were a great number of energy companies that were contributing a lot of money as well. And when I began to investigate which attorneys general they were most focused on, I found Scott Pruitt. And it was just a matter of me sort of saying, well, who’s the guy who they go to the most to challenge the Obama regulatory rule?

So what Devon Energy, for example – which was an Oklahoma City-based oil and gas company – was doing, it was turning to Scott Pruitt to try to challenge Obama’s rules. And they would hand Scott Pruitt drafts of letters that they wanted him to send to Lisa Jackson at the EPA or to the Department of Interior or even to President Obama. And Scott Pruitt took those letters and essentially put them on the Oklahoma attorney general stationery, signed them and sent them in.

And he was – had become, you know, essentially a lobbyist on behalf of the oil and gas companies in Oklahoma at the same time as he was the top law enforcement official. And he was the head of the Republican Attorneys General Association and collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from these same companies to help get other Republicans elected as attorneys general. So that was a story that I wrote in 2014, and that’s when I first met Scott Pruitt.

Superb reporting, thanks to Eric Lipton of The New York Times and the Sierra Club.  Read transcript of interview here.



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Filed under Environment, politics, water

Fossil Fuels: The Emperor’s New Clothes

An important message from Grist and sponsor DivestInvest Individual, thanks very much to Jeff Tangel, INC, Environmental Critique, and The Tecumseh Project.

“As a Grist subscriber, you may know that renewable energy already employs more people and women than coal, oil and gas combined.1 In the next few decades, we could create another 2 million good green jobs.2 And that new economy won’t just be cleaner, it will also be more equitable!

So divesting and investing in good green jobs means saving the planet and creating a more just society. But the fossil fuel industry is pushing back, spending billions on messaging and P.R. to hijack our future.”


Learn more at a divestment presentation by Chicago 350 founder Melissa Brice, the first event of the Chicago Climate Festival!

1 – Smith, Heather. “There are more jobs in renewable energy than in oil, gas, and coal combined” Grist
2 – Sadasivam, Naveena. “Economy Would Gain Two Million New Jobs in Low-Carbon Transition, Study Says” InsideClimate News

Image Source: http://climatechange.lta.org/renewable-energy-siting/


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Brian Massumi valuing Guattari’s Virtual Ecologies

Rich presentations from Brian Massumi and Jane Bennett, via the virtual ecology of (you guessed it) synthetic zero.

Video post.

Source: Brian Massumi valuing Guattari’s Virtual Ecologies

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@billmckibben Aug 17 USA this a.m.: 80k evacuated in CA fires; 40k homes damaged in LA flooding; 100s protesting NDak. pipeline. We’re losing, but we’re fighting

Might have to make that our new motto “We’re losing, but we’re fighting”

Source: @billmckibben Aug 17 USA this a.m.: 80k evacuated in CA fires; 40k homes damaged in LA flooding; 100s protesting NDak. pipeline. We’re losing, but we’re fighting

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Fossil Fuel Divestment in a Nutshell

The following informal analytical summary is based on secondary research conducted for Chicago 350. I  reviewed a variety of academic and media articles, and have cited select accessible sources.

A great deal of information about fossil fuel divestment is available on environmental activist sites.  Divestment campaigns are not ultimately targeted to the converted, however.  Almost everything published betrays a bias.  And the financial stakes for governments and institutions seem high, in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.  While conducting fresh research to orient myself to this still  controversial issue, I found articles that supported the financial case for divestment and articles that argued against it. For this reason I concluded that short-term investment arguments are not the most persuasive. More compelling are the long-term economic arguments and projections. On one hand, investing is all “speculation,” but on the other hand, public opinion and policy will likely stigmatize fossil fuel industries and affect their market value. Technological and economic trends also suggest that alternative energy will soon replace fossil fuels as a primary source of the world’s energy.

Alternative energy costs are declining steadily, as technology progresses and market share increases, and these costs are already competitive with fossil fuel costs in some contexts. The long-range outlook for fossil fuels, conversely, is grim and most experts are confident that the fossil fuel market is peaking.[1] A large portion of existing reserves will become “unburnable” “stranded assets,” due to government policies and market factors influenced by climate change.[2] Indeed, government policies that count on exploiting all existing reserves clearly contradict existing climate-change goals and commitments.[3] Some experts argue that investment banks are blind to the risk, and less concerned than fossil fuel companies, because they are primarily interested in generating fees.[4]


Number Image – Fossil Fuel Subsidies 5x more than Renewables  by Alisa Singer

From a broader perspective, legislators and citizens should be informed about and concerned with the various economic implications of continuing to invest in fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industry is much more heavily subsidized than the renewable energy industry, which makes it less economically efficient.[5] Continuing to invest in fossil fuels thus drains national and regional resources in general. Also governments should invest in clean energy jobs and training before the “carbon bubble” bursts, to ensure a smooth transition in terms of education, employment, and infrastructure adaptation, all of which have short- and long-term economic implications.[6] As in most environmental debates, citizens and legislators tend to be shortsighted. If our current economic woes are a result of previous shortsighted policies, then reacting in the same manner now only passes the buck to the next generation and increases the problem.

Image and image data sources:

[1] “The World Nears Peak Fossil Fuels for Electricity”http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-13/we-ve-almost-reached-peak-fossil-fuels-for-electricity

[2]“Carbon Bubble & Divestment Trouble: An Analysis | The JEI” http://www.thejei.com/carbon-bubble-divestment-trouble-investor-reactions-an-analysis/ ; “Most Fossil Fuels ‘Unburnable’ Under 2C Climate Target” http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30709211

[3] “Most Fossil Fuels ‘Unburnable’ Under 2C Climate Target” http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30709211

[4] “How Should Investors Manage Climate-Change Risk?”http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2497514&download=yes ; “Investment Bank Blindness to Risk in Fossil-Fuel Sector” http://ieefa.org/banker-blindness-fossil-fuel-sector-risk/

[5] “Energy Subsidies” http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/resources/energysubsidies/

[6] “Divesting from Fossil Fuels: How Cities can Help Solve the Climate Crisis”


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By: Lori Duchrow·Rhinelander, WI

Re-posted from Center for Humans & Nature.


Image, added by Environmental Critique, “low tide” by Randall Honold at dylar addict.

“Everyone on this earth is entitled to clean, safe drinking water. Clean drinking water is not a commodity to be used for profit, and laws will be necessary to ensure corporations cannot control the water supply. Nestlé, for example, is already trying to do just that. Legislators must do everything possible to protect our water.  Those that deny climate change and its impact on our air and water, have no business in political office. We have to take action now before it is too late.

The powers that be in Wisconsin, our Governor Scott Walker in particular, are destroying our waters at a very fast pace. Expansion of agri-business, rolling back environmental protections, restricting the powers of the DNR, reducing funding for research—these are just a few of the things that have occurred in just the past year.  In February, legislation was quietly signed that enables owners of high-capacity wells to replace those wells at any time, with larger wells of any size without state oversight. This is already having an impact in Portage County.”

Read more of this post here.

See complete discussion, “What are our Moral and Civic Responsibilities to Water?” here.

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Can democracy in crisis deal with the climate crisis?

From Center for Humans & Nature


Question Background:

How can a struggling democracy tackle one of the most critical challenges the world faces? Contributors from across the disciplines share their ideas on the interconnections between rejuvenating the democratic process and addressing the climate crisis. How do you perceive a moral pathway forward? We encourage you to share your insights with our thinking community.

Beyond the Dual Crisis: From Climate Change to Democratic Change

In many ways, the maintenance of an environment adequate to human health and well-being is the ultimate public good, and indeed a global one at that. I suggest that it also should be recognized as a prominent human right, since environmental sustenance is a fundamental condition for each person’s life and agency.[1] Current processes of climate change threaten both this common good and individuals’ development of capacities and fulfillment of goals. Yet, these processes harm people unequally and differentially and thus raise issues of global justice. They have more grievous effects on structurally disadvantaged people than on the affluent, who are also better situated to mitigate or adapt to the pernicious consequences.

Continue reading here.

Democracy and Climate Change: How Cities Can Do What States Can’t

[ . . .] It is pretty obvious, however, that we do not live in the ideal democratic world. In our real world of corrupted, minimalist democracy, we privilege individual, special-interest thinking and ask citizens to do no more than express their private preferences. We confound opinion and knowledge and sometimes even seem to think that by denying expert science we honor “democratic” thinking (as if shared ignorance and democracy were the same thing). In this corrupted version of democracy, “now” trumps “later,” today takes precedence over tomorrow, and no one takes responsibility for that greater democracy about which Edmund Burke spoke—the democracy that encompasses not only the interests of the living, but the interests of those who are gone and those as yet unborn. Generational thinking can only be cultivated in a setting of prudent deliberation; contrarily, our short-term present-mindedness shrinks the temporal zone.

Read full Contributor Response here.

See more responses, including “Currencies of Movement Are the Key” by Bill McKibben here.

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