Mandy Gunasekara, who previously led the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, tweeted a picture of herself being sworn in as Administrator Andrew Wheeler's chief of staff. "Officially back in action!" she wrote.
Andrew Wheeler, the former coal lobbyist who is now acting administrator of the EPA, was a "driving force" behind the agenda of Sen. James Inhofe, who called climate change a "hoax," according to people familiar with Wheeler's work for the senator.
When I lived in Washington DC in the early 1980's, I'd occasionally stroll down to the Mall to see the then-new Vietnam War Memorial.
Congressional contrarians<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODQxNjM3MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0OTgxMzMxNH0.ILD-663UoHjfkVrwqCaSGtJIcYVVx6PfUB9cp8nSLpM/img.jpg?width=980" id="7d02c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="12e97f861357c61d30f391c060c892d5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Lamar Smith (R-Texas). Credit: NASA<p>In the contentious 2018 midterm elections, while the Democrats could make some gains and possibly monkey-wrench Trump's rollbacks by reclaiming majorities in Congress, climate isn't a factor.</p><p>General revulsion to Trump's policies and personality is hardening America into a sharply divided land of Trump haters and Trump zealots. But those policies and personality are holding him relatively steady at about 40 percent support among Americans, and nearly 90 percent support among Republicans. Few GOP representatives or Senators seem poised to challenge him.</p><p>A few key Congressional deniers are retiring at the end of the year, notably Lamar Smith, who has used his chairmanship of the House Science Committee as a blunt instrument against science; and "Smoky Joe" Barton, a fellow Texan who in 2010 apologized to BP for alleged rough treatment by the Obama Administration after the largest offshore oil spill ever.</p><p>But many, many more are staying. Jim Inhofe, a spry 83 years old, hasn't yet said whether he'll run again in 2020. If he does, there's no reason to believe that the king of Senate climate denial won't reprise his 40 percentage point victory in 2014.</p><p>John Barrasso's seat is just as safe. The gentleman from the Wyoming coalfields won his second term by a three-to-one margin, and is running for his third in November. Unless the Democrats stun the political world by wresting control of the Senate, Barrasso will likely continue as Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.</p><p>Inhofe and Barrasso have dozens of ideological soulmates in the House and Senate. John Shimkus, who is given to <a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2010/11/shimkus-cites-genesis-on-climate-044958" target="_blank">citing the Book of Genesis</a> as proof that climate change is impossible, won by three to one in 2014 and ran unopposed two years later. He has a longshot opponent this year.</p><p>On the non-government side, the Heartland Institute staff — infamous for their billboard linking <a href="https://www.livescience.com/20107-heartland-climate-change-billboards.html" target="_blank">climate scientists or activists to the Unabomber and Osama bin Laden</a>—now must remove their tinfoil hats while passing through White House metal detectors to advise the Administration. </p><p>Former Inhofe aide Marc Morano has seen his media profile shrink, but he still leads a cadre of deniers who accuse climate scientists of only being in it for the money. According to <a href="https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=11407" target="_blank">recent IRS filings,</a> Morano's employer pays him a base salary of $188,000.</p><p>So the moral of <strong><em>this </em></strong>story is that climate denial may not be growing, but it's a fool's errand to think that it will vanish any time soon. Climate change is showing us its real costs every day and clean energy is finally taking off, but <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/08/a-global-rightward-shift-on-climate-change/568684/" target="_blank">denial lives</a> in the highest levels of American government . </p><p>And denial will continue to thwart, or at least slow, progress.</p>
Environmental Protection Agency interim chief Andrew Wheeler faces his first congressional test Wednesday when he testifies at his first hearing since taking over for scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt.
Facebook is still struggling to contain its fake news problem.
Trump nominee to head agency overseeing tailpipe rules won’t say whether humans cause climate change
It is said that things come in threes. In the case of Senator James Inhofe, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and newly-confirmed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, it may be true of people, too.
Top Weekend News<p>Our friends at FERN suggest a <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/the-fix-for-e-coli-outbreaks-could-be-the-blockchain/" target="_blank">possible solution</a> to foodborne e. coli outbreaks.</p><p>"The damn thing melted." A changing Arctic <a href="https://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2018/04/the-damn-melted-arctic-security-blue-water-era/" target="_blank">changes global security.</a> <em>(New Security Beat).</em></p><p><a href="https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/coal-ash-raising-concerns-over-health-risks-in-puerto-rico?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter" target="_blank">Coal ash is raising health concerns</a> at Puerto Rico's only coal-burning power plant. (<em>PBS NewsHour)</em></p><p>Jason Mark's cover story for <em>Sierra</em> <em>Magazine:</em> <a href="https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2018-3-may-june/feature/the-case-for-climate-reparations" target="_blank">The case for climate reparations</a>.</p><p>For the first quarter of 2018, <a href="https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Big-Oil-back-to-raking-in-billions-12870028.php?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sendto_newslettertest&stream=top-stories" target="_blank">Big Oil has returned to raking in billions</a>. (<em>Houston Chronicle)</em></p>
Opinions and Editorials<p>From <em>The Revelator:</em> The imperiled fossil record in the Bears Ears National Monument <a href="https://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=18-P13-00017&segmentID=2" target="_blank">may hold valuable climate lessons</a>.</p><p>On Public Radio International's <em>Living On Earth,</em> EHN's Peter Dykstra and Steve Curwood discuss <a href="https://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=18-P13-00017&segmentID=2" target="_blank">NASA's newly-approved, climate-denying Administrator </a>and more.</p><p>Scott Pruitt said a deputy did a <a href="http://www.stltoday.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-while-the-epa-shortchanges-st-louis-pruitt-enjoys-the/article_62eed5b7-bfd6-5758-b56e-e38879cd4500.html" target="_blank">"great job" in St. Louis</a>. The <em>St. Louis Post-Dispatch</em> calls BS.</p><p><em>San Francisco Chronicle </em>editorial: <a href="https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Editorial-Scott-Pruitt-swamp-creature-12858563.php" target="_blank">"Scott Pruitt, swamp thing."</a><br></p>
Rollbacks and ROTFL's from Trumpworld This Week<p>From Evan Halper at the <em>LA Times</em>: The Trump Administration and California are poised to collide over <a href="http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-mileage-20180427-story.html" target="_blank">fuel efficiency standards.</a></p><p>Nice summary from <em>Politico</em> of EPA's Scott Pruitt in <a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/26/scott-pruitt-hearing-takeaways-555942" target="_blank">congressional testimony </a>this week.</p><p>But wait, there's more! The EPA Inspector General opens <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-pruitt-epa-i_us_5ae38788e4b055fd7fcbd15c?pyi" target="_blank">new investigations</a> into Pruitt's conduct. (<em>Huff Post)</em></p><p>D'oh! Why it matters that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke <a href="https://www.outsideonline.com/2301681/hey-ryan-zinke-youve-got-your-ranger-hat-backwards?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=onsiteshare" target="_blank">wore his National Park ranger hat backwards </a>in a photo op.</p>
Researchers find people's exposure to PFAS and certain flame retardants could be significantly reduced by opting for healthier building materials and furniture.
Fish exposed to harmful contaminants can pass on health issues such as reproductive problems to future generations that had no direct exposure.
An expanding wood pellet market in the Southeast has fallen short of climate and job goals—instead bringing air pollution, noise and reduced biodiversity in majority Black communities.
Hunter-donated meat provides crucial protein to US food banks. But an EHN investigation found a lack of oversight that could result in potentially hundreds of thousands of lead-contaminated meals this year.