Delay to Ozone Limiting Regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Wednesday that it would not delay implementing an Obama era regulation on smog-forming pollutants from smokestacks and tailpipes. In June, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced he would extend the October 1 deadline to implement the regulations, which lower the maximum acceptable ozone emissions, a major component of smog. Pruitt reversed the decision this week, the day after 16 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit challenging the delay. However, the EPA did leave open the possibility of extending the deadline again. Pruitt's reversal is likely an acknowledgement that he would lose a court case challenging the delay in light of two recent Federal Court rulings against the EPA's attempt to delay implementing methane regulations without going through the normal administrative process. The recent court rulings against EPA merely slow the process of repealing regulations, but the EPA can still repeal environmental regulations as long as they follow proper administrative procedures. Pruitt is still considering repeal of 30 different environmental regulations. However, the procedure to repeal regulation requires the agency to provide an official justification for the repeal and offer the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed repeal.

Zinke Under Investigation For Health Care Threats. The Interior Department's Office of the Inspector General is looking into allegations that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke threatened Alaska Senator Lisa Murskowski with economically damaging repercussions for her state if she voted against the Republican Health Care bill. The Office of the Inspector General, which is in charge of investigating fraud and mismanagement at the Department, launched the preliminary investigation at the request of Democratic congressmen Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Raul Grijalva of Arizona, who also asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the matter. The Representatives accuse the Trump Administration of using "federal resources to advance partisan legislation."

Department of Interior Purging Climate Programs, Scientists and Data. The Department of Interior has initiated a radical and unprecedented reorganization of agency staff, which includes transferring more than two dozen senior employees. The transfers are targeted towards employees working on climate change such as U.S. Geological Survey scientist Dr. Virginia Burkett who contributed multiple reports to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Another senior climate scientist targeted was Joel Clement, who filed a whistleblower complaint after he was transferred to an accounting position in retaliation for speaking out about climate change. Secretary Zinke has supported Trump's budget proposal that would cut DOI's budget by $1.6 billion and has advocated altering the missions of various programs and research initiatives to de-emphasize climate change. Zinke also supports repealing many environmental regulations.

EPA's Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry Deny Carbon is Main Cause of Climate Change. The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General recently ruled that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not violate the agency's Scientific Integrity Policy when he said carbon dioxide is not the primary cause of global warming. The office found that Pruitt did not violate the Scientific Integrity Policy because the policy protects the right of all employees to express their opinions, even if they are controversial. The Sierra Club requested the review since Pruitt's comments during a CNBC interview contradicted the official EPA stance. However, after the Pruitt statement, the EPA took down its web page on the causes of climate change, which used to say "Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change." More recently, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said he thinks it is "quite all right," to question climate change. He also denied that carbon dioxide is the primary cause of climate change, claiming instead that "the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in." Perry has also ordered closure of the Office of International Climate and Technology which works with other countries to develop clean energy technology.

What you can do:

  • Use the RISE Stronger August Recess Guide. While Congress is taking its August recess, attend a town hall and hold your elected officials accountable. The August Recess Guide will arm you with information on a variety of topics, including Energy & Environment, to help you ask challenging and important questions.