Blog

House Lawmakers Push Legislation to ‘Stop the Spread of Catastrophic Wildfires’

Some House lawmakers are calling for a change in policy to help prevent wildfires.

“Active forest management is needed to stop the spread of catastrophic wildfires,” Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., said in a statement last month.

“Irreplaceable natural resources and human lives are at stake, and we must focus on the immediate solutions available. It is time for members of both parties in the House and Senate to work together to pass the Resilient Federal Forests Act.”

Wildfires are spreading across California, covering over 115,000 acres of land, destroying 1,500 buildings, and forcing residents to evacuate from 5,000 of their homes, according to the Los Angeles Times. So far, the state has reported 15 people dead.

According to the Congressional Western Caucus, 2017 has had “one of the worst wildfire seasons in history,” destroying over 8.4 million acres of land and leaving 80 million more at high risk in the U.S. Members of the caucus called last month for forestry reforms to prevent future wildfire disasters.

The bill, introduced by Westerman, is designed to tighten forest management. The legislation includes measures to require litigations against forest management projects to provide an alternative management proposal and would “increase the pace and scale of forest management projects.” According to the House Committee on Natural Resources, “the bill streamlines onerous environmental review processes to get work done on the ground quickly, without sacrificing environmental protection.”

“Backwards forest management policies have [caused] public land management agencies to allocate time, energy, and resources on the back-end trying to put out massive wildfires that are already blazing,” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said in a statement in September. Anyone with a medical background knows the importance of working to prevent a problem, rather than just treating it.”

But some oppose the bill. In a hearing in June with the U.S. House Natural Resources subcommittee on federal lands, former Forest Service Deputy Chief Jim Furnish said the bill undermines other environmental issues, such as the carbon crisis and fish preservation.

“This bill seeks to take us back to the old days when logging dominated public lands,” Furnish said in prepared testimony. “That policy proved bankrupt socially and legally. The bill essentially creates a series of workarounds by legislating fixes to nonexistent problems, unless you see national forest lands primarily as timber farms.”

Report by Ian Snively. Originally published at The Daily Signal.

Rolling Back This Obama EPA Scheme Could Save Americans $33 Billion

Reversing an Obama administration energy regulation will save energy companies $33 billion in compliance costs through 2030—costs that would have otherwise been borne by consumers, senior Trump administration officials said in providing details about scrapping the plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan, placing the proposed repeal in the Federal Register and giving stakeholders 60 days to submit public comment.

The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce carbon emissions by one-third by 2030. However, it ran into multiple lawsuits from more than 150 entities, including 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric cooperatives, and three labor unions, according to the EPA. On top of that, 34 senators and 171 House members filed an amicus briefing arguing the Clean Power Plan was illegal. On Feb. 9, 2016, the Supreme Court halted the implementation of the program.

The Trump administration argues the Obama policy intruded on “cooperative federalism.” Previously, the EPA would set the process for regulating carbon emissions and states would decide on standards and implementation. Under the Obama rule, the EPA decided on state standards and implementation, the Trump EPA contends.

The EPA will review what the next step after the repeal of the rule is and if any further regulation is warranted, according to a summary from the agency. The agency states that the Clean Air Act is a source for authority but is also carefully crafted to limit what the agency does.

On March 28, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to establish a national policy on energy independence. The executive order was to promote the developing U.S. energy sources and reduce regulation. That day, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed four Federal Register notices in response to the executive order that included a review of the Clean Power Plan.

On Monday, Pruitt was in coal country in Hazard, Kentucky to announce the plan to roll back the regulation, where he reportedly said, “The war on coal is over. … I’ll be signing a proposed rule to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration and thus begin the effort to withdraw that rule.”

The environmental lobby reacted angrily, as Greenpeace Climate Director Kelly Mitchell called Pruitt “a dangerously corrupt fossil fuel errand boy” in a prepared statement.

“Pruitt is trying to gut the EPA’s Supreme Court-confirmed power to regulate dangerous climate pollution so these same companies can avoid accountability for fueling climate chaos,” Mitchell said. “Fortunately, utilities, cities, Fortune 500 companies, and people around the world are all moving towards renewable energy despite Scott Pruitt’s cynical attempt to delay the inevitable.”

Report by Fred Lucas. Originally published at The Daily Signal.

This state considering banning combustion-engine vehicles

California regulators are exploring ways to eventually ban the sale of vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines, a top official told Bloomberg News.

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols said the state, led by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, is interested in following the example set by China, which said earlier this month that it would move toward banning internal-combustion engines in the country.

“I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’” Nichols said, adding that any potential ban would be a decade or more away.

“The governor has certainly indicated an interest in why China can do this and not California.”

Read more at The Hill.

GOP warns Trump: Staying in Paris deal preserves Obama-era regulations

Republican senators on Thursday morning warned President Trump that remaining in the landmark Paris climate pact will essentially guarantee that a host of Obama-era environmental regulations remain on the books for good.

In a letter to the president, the lawmakers urged Mr. Trump to withdraw from the deal, which calls on the U.S. to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025. Mr. Trump, who vowed during his campaign to withdraw from the accord, has said he’ll make a decision after he returns home from the G-7 summit in Italy.

While some administration officials — including Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson — want the U.S. to remain a part of the agreement, GOP senators argue that doing so could lead to the preservation of former President Barack Obama’s regulatory agenda, including the Clean Power Plan, the first set of national limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

Read more at The Washington Times.

Why the skeptics reject ‘human-induced’ climate change

As the new school year gets underway, here’s some reflection on what may be the current atmosphere of the academic scientific community.

Certain campus professors and theoreticians have cast their lofty claims of climate catastrophe out of the comfort of the credulous classroom and faculty lounge and on to the critical community of the wary general public. The result: substantial resistance.

Many campus scientists are dismayed at what they see as unreasonable skepticism of the scientific establishment and the denial of the edifice of scientific facts that include disastrous global warming resulting from excessive human carbon emissions. In the coming decades, such emissions will apparently doom the planet, according to some high-level sources…

Read more at The Washington Times.

Calls to punish skeptics rise with links to climate change, hurricanes

…“Climate change denial should be a crime,” declared the Sept. 1 headline in the Outline. Mark Hertsgaard argued in a Sept. 7 article in the Nation, titled “Climate Denialism Is Literally Killing Us,” that “murder is murder” and “we should punish it as such.”

The suggestion that those who run afoul of the climate change consensus, in particular government officials, should face charges comes with temperatures flaring over the link between hurricanes and greenhouse gas emissions.

“In the wake of Harvey, it’s time to treat science denial as gross negligence — and hold those who do the denying accountable,” said the subhead in the Outline article, written by Brian Merchant.

Brad Johnson, executive director of Climate Hawks Vote, posted last week on Twitter a set of “climate disaster response rules,” the third of which was to “put officials who reject science in jail.”…

Read more at The Washington Times.

Climate scientist rebuts Hollywood hurricane hype: ‘This is what weather looks like’

Sparring with celebrities and Al Gore over global warming may not be what Roy Spencer had in mind when he earned his Ph.D., but it’s certainly become a bustling sideline for the University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologist.

A month after rebutting Mr. Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel,” Mr. Spencer has published another short e-book, this one challenging statements by Jennifer Lawrence, Bill Nye, Stevie Wonder and others linking global warming to this year’s active hurricane season.

Read more at The Washington Times.