Jul 8, 2019

Reality checking Trump's comments on clean air

Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

President Trump and his top officials touted in a speech Monday how America's air pollution has decreased 74% since 1970, citing data from the Environmental Protection Agency due out next week.

Reality check: That's true, but most of those reductions occurred long before Trump was in office. Since Trump entered the White House, the little data available show that some kinds of air pollution have plateaued, while a few have even increased, according to a preview of the report EPA posted Monday.

What they're saying: EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said on a conference call with reporters earlier Monday that it's important Americans know the air has gotten cleaner over the last 49 years, not dirtier as some news coverage suggests.

For the record: Michael Abboud, an EPA spokesman, said by email that the agency expects a downward trend in pollution but that some is higher "due to wildfires and other meteorological conditions."

The big picture: Trump is taking credit for actions of earlier administrations — common for presidents of either party to do on various issues. But in this case it's a stark contrast to Trump's main focus at the EPA and other similarly focused agencies: Repealing almost everything President Obama did on environmental and climate change issues.

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The climate legacy of Justice Stevens

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens testifies before a Senate panel in 2014. Photo: Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died yesterday at age 99, wrote the landmark 5-4 decision in 2007 that clearly gave EPA the power to regulate GHG emissions.

Why it matters: EPA began acting on that authority during the Obama years. Major rules include emissions standards for cars and power plants, which the Trump administration is weakening.

Go deeperArrowJul 17, 2019

EPA failed to follow rules for science panels overhaul, watchdog finds

The Trump administration failed to follow ethics rules during its overhaul of the Environmental Protection Agency’s science advisory boards, the Government Accountability Office said in a report published Monday.

The big picture: Senate Democrats had asked the federal watchdog to investigate after the EPA dismissed academic advisory board members and replaced them with appointees connected to industry, AP notes.

Keep ReadingArrowJul 15, 2019

EPA will not ban pesticide linked to children's health problems

Scott Pruitt testifies at a 2018 hearing. He reversed an Obama-era decision to ban chlorpyrifos. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Environmental Protection Agency will not ban chlorpyrifos, a commonly used pesticide linked with heath and developmental problems in children, the NYT reports.

Flashback: Thursday's decision follows a federal appeals court ruling last August banning the pesticide. Chlorpyrifos was banned in 2015 by the Obama administration, after EPA studies demonstrated its potential for brain damage in children. Former EPA chief Scott Pruitt reversed that decision in 2017.

Go deeperArrowJul 18, 2019