Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: US to exit Paris accord whether Trump or Biden wins | Trump administration misses deadline on conservation projects, top Democrat says | EPA legal staff push back against Trump order on diversity trainings


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AU REVIOR: No matter the Election Day outcome, one thing is certain: The U.S. will officially leave the Paris climate accord on Wednesday.

The withdrawal, set in motion with a letter from President Trump last year, means the U.S. will be the only country in the world that isn’t formally participating in the landmark climate agreement.

If Trump is reelected, the U.S. will remain the lone dissenter on the world stage. Biden, however, has pledged to rejoin the accord on his first day in office, leaving the U.S. out of the agreement for little more than three months.

“It doesn’t need to be more than a footnote in history depending on the result of the election,” said Kelley Kizzier, associate vice president for international climate at the EDF Action, the advocacy wing of the Environmental Defense Fund.

“Biden’s challenge is not going to be the three months that the U.S. is out of the Paris Agreement, it’s going to be coming up with new credible and ambitious climate targets,” she said. “If we have another Trump administration, it’s essentially status quo.”

Regardless of who wins on Tuesday, the U.S. is not expected to meet the 2025 targets set under the Obama administration since the Trump administration has largely disengaged from climate mitigation efforts compared with the previous administration.

“It was a total disaster,” Trump told a crowd shortly before making the formal withdrawal on Nov. 4, 2019.

His administration later called the Paris deal “fraudulent, ineffective, and one-sided” — in line with Trump’s complaints that the 2015 accord wouldn’t do enough to ensure emissions reductions from other major polluters like China and India.

But experts counter that withdrawing from the international agreement takes away America’s best avenue for addressing Trump’s concerns.

“The most concrete action from the withdrawal means the United States no longer has a full seat at the table in how the Paris Agreement moves forward and the negotiating process, and that’s true for issues that the U.S. has had a long-standing interest in, such as transparency and reporting on emissions,” said David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute.

Read more about the upcoming withdrawal here. 

CROSSING THE (DEAD)LINE: The Trump administration has failed to meet a deadline to inform Congress about which projects should receive funding stemming from bipartisan conservation legislation that was signed into law earlier this year, a top Democratic lawmaker told The Hill.

The Great American Outdoors Act, enacted on Aug. 4, gave the Interior Department 90 days to prepare two lists of projects that would receive money under two separate conservation funds established by the legislation. Interior has failed to provide one of the lists, according to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

The deadline for submission was Monday.

E&E News first reported that the Interior Department missed the deadline.

The statute permanently provides $900 million in annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which helps the federal government acquire new land for parks and trails and works to protect sensitive forest and endangered species habitat.

It also provides up to $1.9 billion annually for five years dedicated to addressing a maintenance backlog at existing national parks.

President Trump’s support for funding the LWCF was something of a reversal after previously proposing significant cuts to the fund.

Though the Great American Outdoors Act was bipartisan, it was largely viewed as a win for vulnerable Republican Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Steve Daines (Mont.), who both represent states with vast amounts of public land.

The Interior Department met the deadline for the list of projects that would be prioritized for maintenance, but Grijalva said officials failed to submit a list of projects that would get funds through the LWCF.

“Congress sent clear instructions to the administration: transmit a detailed LWCF project list 90 days after enactment. This is a routine task the bureaus do every year, so the fact that it’s missing is somewhat perplexing and raises a lot of questions about this administration’s intent,” he said in a statement to The Hill.

Asked about the LWCF list, Interior spokesperson Ben Goldey said “the list was submitted to Congress by the deadline.” He provided The Hill with the maintenance backlog list, not the LWCF list.

Interior did not respond to follow-up questions.

Read more about the situation and deferred maintenance list here. 

OBJECTION! Lawyers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are pushing back against an executive order from President Trump that bars diversity trainings, encouraging the agency to maintain a commitment to embracing diversity in the workplace.

Eighty employees at EPA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) signed the letter, which calls Trump’s order an “attempt to distort and suppress honest attempts to grapple with these central issues in our country.” They also called the order “corrosive and dangerous,” claiming that it “hinders necessary efforts to create healing for all.”

When he barred such trainings, Trump’s September order said that they are “rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country.”

Following the order, EPA canceled a speaker series on racism, according to reporting from Politico, and another virtual event on LGBTQ pride and resilience, according to reporting from HuffPost, which first reported the OGC letter.

EPA employees said they find the response to the executive order concerning.

The story is here.


Delaware Bay Oil spill: Cleanup wrapping up after more than 75 tons of debris collected, the Salisbury Daily Times reports 

What would Biden do with Interior? Look to N.M., E&E News reports

Utility shutoffs could increase risks of COVID-19, National Journal reports

Wolf Measure Puts Wildlife Management on the Ballot, Stateline reports

Tags Cory Gardner Donald Trump Steve Daines

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