U.S. Justice Department Comes Out Swinging in Climate Change Lawsuit and More
If someone deliberately causes harm to another person they should be held accountable, right?
What if the harm is to an entire planet and threatens all life on Earth, shouldn't those responsible still be held accountable? Not in Trumpland.
On April 8, 2016, U.S. Federal Judge Coffin ruled that a class action lawsuit filed by a group of 21 plaintiffs with ages from 8 to 19 could proceed. That lawsuit, filed against the U.S. Government and co-defendants representing the Oil and Gas Industry and U.S. Manufacturing, alleges those being sued are together responsible for long-term damage to global climate, and that they knew they were causing such harm all along.
The lawsuit, considered a landmark in that it was for the first time using children – the ones who would have to live with the legacy left by those who caused climate change – as a class with the requisite standing to take on Big Oil. After the April 8th decision, it was even actively being studied as a potential international model to drive mandated climate change actions via the courts.
A later decision by separate Federal Judge Ann Aiken blocked a further attempt to dismiss the case. In her ruling, she said the plaintiffs in the case justifiably wanted the federal government to “cease their permitting, authorizing, and subsidizing of fossil fuels and, instead, move to swiftly phase out CO2 emissions.”
That of course was then. This is a brand-new year.
The new U.S. President and his colleagues at the ‘new and improved’ U.S. Justice Department just ordered a ‘shot across the bow’ at the Federal Court to ask for an immediate stay in that trial.
That move simultaneously asked to appeal Aiken’s ruling and to request a delay in the trial until their appeal is heard.
Behind the move is the new administration’s firm belief that current CO2 emissions standards are needless harsh in their impact on modern plant design and automotive emissions, among other things.
A second foundation for the current legal move is the new administration’s belief that CO2 emissions and the human beings who allowed those emissions to rise are not to blame for global warming. As the Cabinet Member most responsible for setting policy in this area, the new EPA head, Scott Pruitt, is already making his own positions in this area clear. As he said in a March 9 interview on the business television network CNBC on its “Squawk Box” program, in response to the question: “Do you believe CO2 is the primary ‘control knob’ for climate?” answered with the following:
“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” He went on: “But we don’t know that yet… We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”
So according to Pruitt, the administrator who will be responsible for handling changes in environmental policy over the next four years (as a minimum), there is ‘tremendous disagreement’ about this whole CO2 thing and its role in rapidly increasing the temperatures on the planet.
Since the interview, many have pointed out to Mr. Pruitt that not only do the majority of scientists who have looked into this actually concur on that CO2 emissions as a result of human activity are the major contributor to climate change impacts, his own agency seems to disagree with his position as well as well.
As noted on the actual EPA website as of this moment, it says in its section on “Causes of Climate Change” that:
“Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change. CO is
2 absorbed and emitted naturally as part of the carbon cycle, through plant and animal respiration, volcanic eruptions, and ocean-atmosphere exchange. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, release large amounts of CO ,
2 causing concentrations in the atmosphere to rise.
“Atmospheric CO concentrations have increased
2 by more than 40% since pre-industrial times, from approximately 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv) in the 18th century to over 400 ppmv in 2015. The monthly average concentration at Mauna Loa now exceeds 400 ppm for the first time in human history. The current CO level is higher than it
2 has been in at least 800,000 years.”
The website goes on to describe just how big the problem is in yet another quote, saying that:
“Human activities currently release over 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. The resultant build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere is like a tub filling with water, where more water flows from the faucet than the drain can take away”.
All of which means that we as a human species are literally drowning ourselves in CO2, which in turn is partially responsible for creating a massive global warming effect on the planet.
Of course EPA administrator Pruitt will likely suggest some changes to this in the very near future, so as to better reflect industry propaganda. So those interested in learning more in what many see as a thoughtful, balanced, and well-presented explanation about how serious carbon dioxide emissions are – may want to take a look now rather than wait until later.
Besides what Scott Pruitt will do at the EPA to change the messaging about global warming and rollback past CO2 emissions control policy, his agency is also expected to work hand-in-hand with the Republican leadership in the U.S. Congress to ease up on the actual laws about emissions standards in the country.
The White House has also taken action on all this already by creating a first-draft budget that would, if implemented, remove hundreds of millions of research dollars out of the EPA and other agencies focusing on tracking, predicting, and recommending what to do about greenhouse gas emissions and their causes.
Specifically, the budget would cut:
About half of the EPA’S current science funding for the agency’s Air, Climate and Energy Research program
An estimated 17% of the research funding at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that supports climate research and the many satellite programs in place to monitor temperature change and greenhouse gas emissions. These programs were considered critical in setting the policies the Obama administration had taken on specific fossil fuel prospecting and usage.
In addition to this, the Trump Administration has also made clear its intent to rework some of the past excellent work by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in this area. NASA currently has satellite and climate scientists dedicated on a major scale to monitoring climate change effects and greenhouse gas emissions as well. Specifically, NASA programs coordinating the launch of satellites that monitor changes in sea level, carbon levels and air temperatures, much of which are currently used to justify the tightening of emissions standards, are all on the chopping block, according to those who have seen the draft budgets.
Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Lamar Smith, both Texas Republicans and both chairs of congressional panels that oversee the space program, have recommended that NASA now transfer all of its ‘earth science’ activities to other agencies so it can instead focus on deep space exploration instead of something useful.
One ‘positive’ thing one can say about the current administration’s positions on climate change is that they are at least well-orchestrated across the various agencies involved, from the Justice Department filings to the EPA and even critical NASA support of all this. There is no difference of opinion within the agency.
And rabid right-wing Breitbart News, the former home where current Chief Strategist of the White House Stephen K. Bannon used to hold the position of Executive Chair, also has the message well in sync.
In an article published March 11 on Breitbart’s website, they make these statements praising Scott Pruitt in his statements on CO2 emissions shortly after the CNBC interview that raised all the fuss on March 8:
“Two pieces of excellent news from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)...
“First, [Scott Pruitt] has come clean and said what he should have ‘fessed up to a while back: he doesn’t believe in the Carbon Fairy.”
And “...the Second piece of good News is that the Environmental Protection Agency has just lost its head of Environmental Justice”.
Mr. Mustafa Ali, the past head of the Environmental Justice Department within the EPA, resigned after looking at a proposed budget cut of $2 billion from its department – and considering what it all meant.
For most, however, the lack of scientific integrity on behalf of the Trump regime when it comes to climate change is definitely not “excellent news” – and spells disaster for the U.S. and the world with respect to future damage to the environment as new rules and laws are put in place.