Overnight Energy: Officials push Arctic drilling by arguing there is no climate crisis | Experts tell Trump homeless aren't hurting water quality | Acting Park Service chief to oversee 2026 Independence Day celebration

Overnight Energy: Officials push Arctic drilling by arguing there is no climate crisis | Experts tell Trump homeless aren't hurting water quality | Acting Park Service chief to oversee 2026 Independence Day celebration
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THIS IS NOT THE CLIMATE CRISIS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR: The Trump administration, in its push for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, is arguing the project should go forward because "there is not a climate crisis."

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) environmental impact statement, released this month, is the last step before drilling leases can be sold on a piece of wilderness in Alaska that House Democrats have sought to protect.

The BLM document contains language, first reported by E&E News on Monday, that spells out the administration's response to opponents who argue drilling in the Arctic will hasten climate change.

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"The BLM does not agree that the proposed development is inconsistent with maintaining a livable planet (i.e., there is not a climate crisis)," the agency wrote in its review.

"The planet was much warmer within the past 1,000 years, prior to the Little Ice Age, based on extensive archaeological evidence (such as farming in Greenland and vineyards in England). This warmth did not make the planet unlivable; rather, it was a time when societies prospered," the impact statement says.

Environmental groups pointed out that there are, of course, serious downsides to a warming planet.

"The Bureau of Land Management's statement is simply false and shockingly out-of-step with what mainstream science tells us," said Brenda Ekwurzel, director of climate science for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"This is nothing more than a coordinated disinformation effort by the administration to deny the science, roll back climate policies, and actually drive up carbon emissions at a time when urgent cuts are needed," she said.

BLM favors the option to offer lease sales across 1.56 million acres of Alaska's coastal plains. Officials say they anticipate holding lease sales before the end of the year.

Read the story here.

 

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TALK ABOUT FORWARD LOOKING: Daniel Smith, the acting National Parks Director who the Trump administration pulled out of retirement, will soon take on a new role: overseeing Fourth of July celebrations seven years from now in 2026.

"In the coming days, I will begin a new role as special assistant to the director leading NPS efforts on the 250th commemoration of our nation's independence," according to an internal memo obtained by the Hill.

Interior and NPS did not return a request for comment about Smith's new role. The Trump administration this past Fourth of July spent millions to update the annual Washington, D.C. fireworks show and parade. He has since promised the continue the tradition.

In the memo sent to National Park Service (NPS) employees Monday, Smith called his role as deputy secretary--exercising the authority of the director-- "the highlight" of his career. 

Read the full story here.

 

BERNHARDT ORDER SHOWS WHO'S IN CHARGE AT INTERIOR: Interior Sec. David Bernhardt signed another order today that spells out who will lead the department through Jan. 3, 2020. Newly minted solicitor Daniel Jorjani will also serve as his own deputy, but there are some other notable appointments.

Pendley is still in... A newly signed secretarial order means Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acting director William Pendley will stay in his position despite objections from lawmakers over his anti-government philosophy.

Pendley is a controversial figure in conservation circles given his longtime advocacy for selling off public lands. His ethics pledge includes a 17-page recusal list that shows his ties with a number of industries that stand to benefit from greater access to public lands. 

On Thursday, a dozen Democratic lawmakers voiced their opposition to Pendley, asking Bernhardt to withdraw Pendley's acting status as director of BLM.

"As the BLM considers a major reorganization, there is no reason for this effort to be led by an Acting Director who spent his career attempting to dismantle the agency," the senators wrote, saying the role should go to someone who believes in multiple balanced uses of the agency.

They nodded to a quote from Pendley that called the federal government "the world's worst neighbor."

"We can think of no worse neighbor than one who spent the last thirty years trying to burn down the neighborhood," the senators said.

Many of those senators are also opposed to Interior's plans to uproot nearly all of BLM's Washington-based staff, moving 27 employees to a new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., and spreading another 300 employees at existing offices across the West. The relocation would leave just 61 employees in Washington, something critics say would functionally dismantle the agency.

"As the BLM considers a major reorganization, there is no reason for this effort to be led by an Acting Director who spent his career attempting to dismantle the agency," the senators wrote.

Bernhardt's order is just the latest that keep a rotating cast of characters in charge of various Interior functions on an acting basis. Critics argue it may be illegal and avoids having controversial nominees face senatorial scrutiny.

Pendley is one figure who would likely face heavy questioning from lawmakers. His recently released recusal list shows he would be in a position to regulate or impact a number of former clients.

Read more here

 

IF TRUMP SAYS THE HOMELESS HURT WATER, YOU GOTTA CHECK IT OUT: The Trump administration tried to pin California's water woes on the homeless, but water quality experts say there is little connection between homeless camps and water pollution. 

In the latest move in the political battle between President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE and the nation's largest blue state, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a letter to Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia becomes first state to mandate later start times at public schools New California law bans school lunch debt shaming California governor signs law banning manufacture, sale of fur products MORE (D) criticizing California for "failing to meet its obligations" on sewage and water pollution, blaming homelessness for the contamination.

But experts say the EPA was short on scientific backing for its claims.

"No self respecting EPA scientist or regulatory staffer is going to claim there's a direct connection between the homeless and the issues raised in that letter. It's a pure political stunt," said Steve Fleischli, senior director of water initiatives at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who knocked the EPA for various proposals to roll back water quality regulations.  

The letter the EPA sent Thursday was the second this week from the agency criticizing the state's environmental record. The first threatened to withhold highway funds over air pollution.

"The EPA is aware of the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the impact of this crisis on the environment," the letter said, noting reports of "piles of human feces." 

"The EPA is concerned about the potential water quality impacts from pathogens and other contaminants from untreated human waste entering nearby waters. San Francisco, Los Angeles and the state do not appear to be acting with urgency to mitigate the risks to human health and the environment that may result from the homelessness crisis," the letter added.

The letter then goes on to site exceedances in lead, arsenic and copper.

"They're trying to connect the dots, but there is no connection between the two things. The drinking water issues they cite have nothing to do with homelessness. Homeless people are not contributing arsenic to tap water," Fleischli said. "It's completely nonsensical."

When asked by The Hill to further explain ties between homelessness and the state's water quality issues, the EPA referred back to earlier statements contained in its letter that blamed California policy choices for the level of homelessness. 

"It was a remarkably silly letter," said Carl Reeverts, who retired from the EPA in 2014 after serving as deputy director of the drinking water protection division. "It was like a very smart summer intern was given the task to write this letter."

Read more on the controversy here

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-Ohio governor orders water testing for toxic chemicals, the Associated Press reports.

-Alabama Power reducing water releases amid drought, the Associated Press reports.

-Coal is piling up in Europe as utilities prefer natural gas, Bloomberg reports.

-Vegan school lunches expand despite opposition from meat industry, Stateline reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Monday and over the weekend...

Trump administration pushes for Arctic drilling by arguing 'there is not a climate crisis'

Green groups line up behind Markey ahead of looming Kennedy fight

Water experts tell Trump no, the homeless aren't hurting California water quality

Advocate for selling off public lands will remain BLM's acting director

Acting National Parks director steps down to oversee 2026 Independence Day celebration