BLM DISSENTERS GET THE BOOT: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees who choose severance over accompanying the agency as it moves out West will have to be out of their job by Jan. 31 of next year.
In an email to BLM staff, acting Director William Pendley said eligible employees may begin applying for early retirement or voluntary separation incentive payments as early as next week.
"Once approved, your separation from federal service must occur no later than January 31, 2020," he wrote in an email to staff obtained by The Hill.
The email is just the latest sign that BLM will be proceeding with its controversial relocation despite objections from lawmakers, including a group yesterday who asked appropriators to block funding for the move.
BLM's relocation plans would move the majority of the agency's D.C.-based staff to various offices across the West, leaving just 61 of its 10,000 employees in the nation's capital.
BLM's leadership argues the relocation will put employees closer to the public lands they manage. But critics, who include lawmakers as well as current and former BLM employees, argue the move will functionally dismantle the agency while gutting it of expert staff.
Letters given to staff on Nov. 12 made clear that staff had 30 days to accept the move or face being booted from the federal workforce.
Those letters also cemented the timeline for the move, as employees would have another three months after that 30-day window to report at their new posting.
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WASHING THEIR HANDS OF IT: The Department of Energy is pushing forward with plans to allow faster cleaning dishwashers to duck current energy efficiency standards, a move critics say defeats years of progress on making the appliances energy efficient.
The DOE proposal unveiled on Wednesday would waive the more stringent energy standards for dishwashers that wash and dry dishes, pots and pans in under an hour, by placing them in a new class of appliances. The agency will later consider what "appropriate" energy and water use standards will apply to the new class of dishwashers in a separate, future rulemaking.
The decision follows a petition by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group whose members include Myron Ebell, a well-known climate skeptic who advised the Trump EPA transition team.
"CEI stated that dishwasher cycle times have become dramatically longer under existing DOE energy conservation standards, and that consumer satisfaction/utility has dropped as a result of these longer cycle times," according to DOE's grant of petition in July.
The DOE listed on its fall agenda Wednesday plans to announce a final action on the proposal by May 2020.
Critics argue that the reason dishwashers are run slowly is due to the fact that they are more energy efficient. Allowing faster dishwashers to skip efficiency standards would weaken incentives for companies to create more efficient appliances.
"Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all," said Pat Remick, spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
TIME FOR A BOYCOTT: A decision by California state officials to boycott the state's annual auto show for the first time in half a century was meant to issue a stark warning to automakers who sided with the Trump administration in an ongoing emissions lawsuit.
"We have not cut off all communications with any representatives from any of the [car] companies ... We're not pulling up the drawbridge to California here. But we're definitely sending the message that it's not business as usual," said California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols on Wednesday.
Nichols has emerged this year as a steadfast figure in the Golden State's opposition to the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks. On a call with reporters Wednesday morning, the former lawyer said the decision to boycott the auto show included a number of state agencies, including the public utilities commission, California Transports and the Department of General Services.
"To the best of my knowledge, all of them have agreed not to go," she said.
Attendance at the Los Angeles Auto Show, an annual gathering of automakers to show off their upcoming models, was typically "a little bit of a perk," Nichols said. But this year could have been an uncomfortable affair as the fight between the state and President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE over California's ability to regulate its own tailpipe emissions standards has also divided automakers.
The Trump administration in September announced it would be revoking California's ability to set higher tailpipe emissions than federal standards. The news came as the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated plans to weaken current emissions levels previously determined under joint talks between the Obama administration and California.
In July, four auto manufacturers -- Ford, BMW, Volkswagen and Honda -- struck a fuel efficiency deal with California. The Department of Justice has since threatened to sue, citing market collusion.
In September, Kia, General Motors, and other top foreign and American car companies backed the Trump administration in an ongoing lawsuit with California over fuel economy standards -- effectively splitting the auto industry.
Earlier this week, California announced it would end purchases from automakers that have not committed to following California's tailpipe emission regulations, including General Motors, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler, by January. That would leave what Nichols calls the "fabulous four" to fill the state's fleet.
Nichols on Wednesday pushed back on automakers that joined the Trump administration in the ongoing lawsuit, criticizing them for wanting to "have their cake and eat it too."
"They want to work with California. They're interested in taking our money, not just for buying cars but our incentives we offer for hybrids and electric cars and wanting to stand with us to show how green and sustainable they are," Nichols said.
ON TAP THURSDAY:
The Senate Thursday is expected to vote to confirm Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryRepublicans eager to take on Spanberger in Virginia Republicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party College football move rocks Texas legislature MORE's replacement, Dan Brouillette to lead the agency.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
Climate change is even ruining Pokemon Now, Gizmodo reports.
'Climate emergency' is the Oxford Dictionary's word of the year, reports U.S. News & World Report
Bill Gates-backed Heliogen's solar 'breakthrough' could replace fossil fuels in steel and other big-polluting industries, MarketWatch reports.
ICYMI. Stories from Tuesday...
-Trump administration moves ahead with plans to weaken efficiency standards for quick dishwashers
-BLM employees who buck relocation out West must leave by early next year
-California officials boycott LA auto show in warning to industry: 'It's not business as usual'
-More than 200 lawmakers urge EPA to negotiate new union contract
-Mark Ruffalo's environmental drama 'Dark Waters' gets DC premiere
-Australian scientists believe they have invented a way to recycle all types of plastic
-California officials to boycott Los Angeles Auto Show over automakers' support for Trump in emissions lawsuit