DNC’s Flip-Flop on Fossil Fuel Subsidies Follows Deep Ties the Industry

DNC’s Flip-Flop on Fossil Fuel Subsidies Follows Deep Ties the Industry

SOURCE: Sludge and Huffington Post DATE: August 18, 2020 SNIP: The Democratic National Committee has quietly dropped from its party platform language calling for an end to subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, HuffPost reported on Tuesday. The language had been added to the platform in error, a DNC spokesperson told HuffPost. The day after a draft of the Democrats’ 2020 policy platform was released, July 23, climate journalist Emily Atkin noted that unlike the 2016 platform, it did not call for an end to subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel companies. According to HuffPost, the language was added to the platform after being included in an omnibus amendment on July 27, before being removed from the final version circulated earlier this week ahead of the convention. While the Democratic Party does not openly embrace climate science denial, it has done little to protect itself from undue influence from the fossil fuel industry, which is the leading driver of global warming and sees proposals like the Green New Deal as an existential threat. Through its donors, its law firm, and the oil and gas industry lobbyists it has put in top positions at the DNC, Democratic Party politics remains deeply entwined with the fossil fuel industry. In August 2018, the DNC approved a resolution from Chair Tom Perez that reversed a DNC policy prohibiting it from accepting contributions from fossil fuel PACs. “The DNC gratefully acknowledges and will continue to welcome the longstanding and generous contributions of workers, including those in energy and related industries, who organize and donate to Democratic candidates individually or through their...
Land Bureau Power Stays in Washington as Headquarters Moves West

Land Bureau Power Stays in Washington as Headquarters Moves West

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: August 28, 2019 SNIP: A review team is consolidating major Bureau of Land Management decision-making at Interior headquarters in Washington at a time when department officials are saying public lands decisions should be made in the West, according to former BLM officials. Interior says it is moving BLM headquarters to Grand Junction, Colo., beginning in mid-September so that officials making decisions about federal lands, oil, gas, and coal can be close to the people and places those decisions affect. But the opposite is happening, said a former high-level BLM official who left the agency during the Trump administration and spoke on condition of anonymity. The new review team represents a consolidation of decision-making in Washington partly as a way to expedite decisions that implement the Trump administration’s agenda, the former official said. The review team amounts to a “shadow organization” within Interior, which is making decisions above the heads of BLM headquarters career staff who will be scattered in offices around the West as part of a bureau reorganization announced in July, said Steve Ellis, a former BLM deputy director in the Obama administration who worked as a 38-year career staffer at BLM and U.S. Forest Service. The administration has moved quickly to open public lands to oil, gas, coal, and timber extraction and remove lands protections that inhibit drilling, mining, and logging. The Interior Department in 2018 mandated that a special review team of political appointees participate in and approve each step of the process in developing all BLM public lands management plans, environmental impact statements, and other decision-making documents required by the National Environmental...
EPA Worked with Mining Industry to Abandon Rule Protecting Taxpayers from Toxic Cleanup Costs

EPA Worked with Mining Industry to Abandon Rule Protecting Taxpayers from Toxic Cleanup Costs

SOURCE: Earth Justice DATE: May 13, 2019 SNIP: The mining industry played a key role in persuading the Environmental Protection Agency to reject a proposed rule that would have protected the public from toxic mining disasters, an Earthjustice review of thousands of agency records and emails has revealed. Under federal Superfund law, the EPA must establish rules requiring industries with a track record of hazardous pollution to demonstrate their ability to cover the cost of toxic cleanups. In early January, 2017, EPA issued a proposed insurance requirement that would have made operators of the riskiest hard-rock mines responsible for their own cleanup costs. Known as the hard-rock mining financial assurances rule, this regulation sought to provide incentives for safer mining practices and to minimize the potential for new toxic mining disasters. Yet in January of 2018, the Trump administration suddenly abandoned this proposed rule, which was on track to be finalized and would have soon taken effect. This abrupt reversal marked a return to business as usual, with taxpayers footing the bill for hazardous spill cleanups from dangerous mine sites. Throughout the western United States, abandoned copper, gold and other hard-rock mines have sat polluted for decades after valuable minerals were extracted, leaching acid mine drainage and posing extreme health risks by releasing cancer-causing chemicals into waterways. In some cases, the hazardous abandoned mines even created cyanide plumes in groundwater, poisoning nearby residential drinking water supplies. When mine operators lack the funds to remediate these hazards, as if often the case, the cost burden shifts onto taxpayers — often to the tune of hundreds of millions or even billions...