06 October 2020
The demise of coal-fired power plants in Arizona and Kentucky shows how the president, despite promises to restore jobs, failed to counter the forces decimating the industry.
The revival of project to mine the edge of Minnesota's cherished Boundary Water has angered environmentalists and focused attention on an unusual connection between a Chilean billionaire and President Trump's family.
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has a new job with a gold-mining firm that's pursuing project approvals involving the federal agency that Zinke left fewer than four months ago.
The year saw President Donald Trump's promised multi-front assault on environmental values, regulations and science bear some toxic fruit.
Credit: WildEarth Guardians/flickr<p>Sarah Palin's signature phrase isn't back in favor, despite fitting within the three-word policy limit of Trump supporters, like "Lock Her Up," "Build the Wall," or the highly successful, "Drain the Swamp." </p><p>But its spirit took wings in Trump's second year, as the Administration reached for its goal of energy dominance.</p><p>Oil and gas drilling or exploration has shoved aside species and habitat protection and the more benign use of not just public lands, but offshore areas as well. </p><p>The Administration moved to limit protection for the sage grouse, a Western bird whose return from the brink is considered an endangered species success story. But alas, the grouse stood in the way of increased fossil fuel development.</p>
Credit: U.S. Department of Energy<p>Scott Pruitt entered his second year as EPA Boss as a seasoned liability and late night TV punching bag. He did not survive, resigning in July, <a href="https://www.utilitydive.com/news/trump-touts-end-of-war-on-beautiful-clean-coal-in-state-of-the-union/516000/" target="_blank">as announced by Trump on Twitter.</a></p><a href="https://www.utilitydive.com/news/trump-touts-end-of-war-on-beautiful-clean-coal-in-state-of-the-union/516000/" target="_blank"></a><p><a href="https://www.utilitydive.com/news/trump-touts-end-of-war-on-beautiful-clean-coal-in-state-of-the-union/516000/" target="_blank"> </a><a href="https://www.utilitydive.com/news/trump-touts-end-of-war-on-beautiful-clean-coal-in-state-of-the-union/516000/" target="_blank"></a>Pruitt's coziness with industry, and his history of hostility toward the agency he was appointed to run, are not what did him in. Instead, it was his series of picayune scandals, unworthy of a county commissioner, which included dispatching staff to shop for a mattress and hotel skin lotion; maneuvering to secure a Chick Fil-A franchise for his wife; re-assigning field staff to his own enormous security detail; and installing a Cone of Silence-like private phone line in his office.</p><p> Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler became his top deputy, and <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/417159-trump-to-nominate-acting-epa-chief-wheeler-for-senate-confirmation" target="_blank">eventual successor.</a></p><p><a href="https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/417159-trump-to-nominate-acting-epa-chief-wheeler-for-senate-confirmation" target="_blank"></a>Ryan Zinke defied many predictions by nearly surviving the year as Interior Secretary. Trump tweeted his resignation announcement earlier this month. The former Eagle Scout also defied the cherished <a href="https://www.scouting.org/discover/faq/question10/" target="_blank">Scout Law</a> about being honest and trustworthy.</p><p><span></span>With as many as 14 investigations into potential scandals and conflicts, Zinke did what any Scout would do: He fired <a href="https://www.outsideonline.com/2355936/zinke-fires-inspector-general" target="_blank">Interior's acting Inspector General</a>. His attempts to replace Mary Kendall with a loyalist with no experience as an ethics watchdog were turned back, however.</p><p><span></span>He parted with Trump on citing the cause of the Western wildfires, blaming <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/11/20/camp-fire-zinke-blames-radical-environmentalists-raging-fires/2067497002/" target="_blank">"radical environmental groups</a>" instead of lax forest-sweeping practices. Number four of the 12 Scout laws is <em>"Be a friend to everyone, even people who are very different from you."</em></p><p>For those of you who are keeping score of such things, Rick Perry is the only survivor among the four Eagle Scouts in Trump's original cabinet (Zinke, Jeff Sessions, and Rex Tillerson).<br></p><p>Zinke's deputy, <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/421755-five-potential-contenders-to-replace-zinke-as-interior-secretary" target="_blank">David Bernhardt</a>, leads a short list of likely replacements. Like Wheeler at EPA, Bernhardt came to government after a career lobbying for extractive industries. And the nominee to head the US Fish and Wildlife Service is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/19/aurelia-skipwith-fish-wildlife-agency-donald-trump?CMP=share_btn_tw" target="_blank">Aurella Skipwith</a>, a veteran attorney for Monsanto and other non-wildlif-ey corporations.</p><p><span></span>And the Senate's alpha-dog climate denier, Jim Inhofe, got waylaid by his own, non-climate scandal at year's end. The Gentleman from Oklahoma <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/12/politics/james-inhofe-purchase-raytheon-stock/index.html" target="_blank">loaded up on Raytheon stock</a> while becoming a fierce advocate of increasing military spending. Inhofe denied that Raytheon's healthy increase – nearly 20 percent since Trump's election, despite a recent sharp drop – was human-influenced.</p><p><span></span>Thus we careen into 2019. The Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives, and have vowed to explore the darkest recesses of the Swamp.</p><p><span></span>The alleged misdeeds of Pruitt and Zinke are sure to be pursued, even though both are out of office. This is fair game in current American politics.</p><p> Am I right about that, Hillary?</p>
President Trump said he plans to announce this week his pick to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who will be leaving the administration at the end of the year.
"I was a total cheerleader for this industry at the beginning. Now I just want to make sure no one else makes the same mistake I did. It has ruined my life."
Jane Worthington moved her grandkids to protect them from oil and gas wells—but it didn't work. In US fracking communities, the industry's pervasiveness causes social strain and mental health problems.
We tested families in fracking country for harmful chemicals and revealed unexplained exposures, sick children, and a family's "dream life" upended.
EHN.org scientific investigation finds western Pennsylvania families near fracking are exposed to harmful chemicals, and regulations fail to protect communities' mental, physical, and social health.
"Once they had the results of our study [families] felt like they had proof that these chemicals are in their air, their water, and making their way into their bodies."