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Westlake Legal Group > Environmental Protection Agency

E.P.A. to Roll Back Regulations on Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is set to announce on Thursday that it intends to sharply curtail the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change, according to an industry official with knowledge of the plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in a proposed rule, will aim to eliminate federal government requirements that the oil and gas industry put in place technology to inspect for and repair methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities.

The proposed rollback is particularly notable because major oil and gas companies have, in fact, opposed it, just as some other industries have opposed the Trump administration’s other major moves to dismantle climate change and other environmental rules put in place by President Barack Obama.

Some of the world’s largest auto companies have opposed Mr. Trump’s plans to let vehicles pollute more, while some electric utilities have opposed the relaxation of restrictions on toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.

“This is extraordinarily harmful,” Rachel Kyte, the United Nations special representative on sustainable energy, said of this and other Trump administration efforts to undo climate regulations. “Just at a time when the federal government’s job should be to help localities and states move faster toward cleaner energy and a cleaner economy, just at that moment when speed and scale is what’s at stake, the government is walking off the field.”

Under the proposal, methane, the main component of natural gas, would only be indirectly regulated. A separate but related category of gases covered under the Obama-era rules, known as volatile organic compounds, would still be subject to regulation under the new rules. Those curbs would also have the side benefit of averting some methane emissions.

The new rule must go through a period of public comment and review, and would most likely be finalized early next year, analysts said. The Wall Street Journal initially reported the expected rule.

Over all, carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas, but methane is a close second. It lingers in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time but packs a bigger punch while it lasts. By some estimates, methane has 80 times the heating-trapping power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years in the atmosphere.

Methane currently makes up nearly 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. A significant portion of that comes from the oil and gas sector.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00CLI-METHANE2-articleLarge E.P.A. to Roll Back Regulations on Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Methane Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency environment

Andrew R. Wheeler, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, at a refinery in Trainer, Pa., last month.CreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press

Erik Milito, a vice president at the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing the oil and gas industry, praised the proposed rule, saying, “We think it’s a smarter way of targeting methane emissions.”

But some major oil companies, including some members of the industry organization, have called on the Trump administration to tighten restrictions on methane.

Exxon wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency last year urging the agency to maintain core elements of the Obama-era policy. And, in March, Gretchen Watkins, the United States chairwoman for Shell, said the E.P.A. should impose rules “that will both regulate existing methane emissions by also future methane emissions.”

Susan Dio, the chairwoman and president of BP America, wrote an op-ed article in March saying that regulating methane is the “right thing to do for the planet” and for the natural gas industry.

Ben Ratner, a senior director with the Environmental Defense Fund, a group that works closely with oil companies to track and reduce methane emissions, noted that the industry had invested millions of dollars to promote natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal.

With natural gas under increasing pressure from more affordable forms of renewable energy, he said, companies are wary of any move that might tarnish its reputation as a cleaner energy source.

“The reputation of American natural gas is at the precipice, and methane rollbacks are the shove,” Mr. Ratner said.

Lee Fuller, executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the smaller operators responsible for lower-producing wells that his group represents could not absorb the costs that Exxon or Shell could, particularly when it came to inspecting and repairing older wells.

“It’s much easier for them to regulate those existing sources,” Mr. Fuller said of the big producers. “But for these small businesses, it’s a very different economic impact.”

The methane regulation has been in the administration’s cross hairs since Mr. Trump’s earliest days in office. In March 2017, Scott Pruitt, then the E.P.A. administrator, tried to suspend the regulation while the agency considered an alternative, but a federal appeals court ruled the move unlawful.

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Trump’s Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules Shows Signs of Disarray

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WASHINGTON — The White House, blindsided by a pact between California and four automakers to oppose President Trump’s auto emissions rollbacks, has mounted an effort to prevent any more from joining the other side.

Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors were all summoned by a senior Trump adviser to a White House meeting last month where he pressed them to stand by the president’s own initiative, according to four people familiar with the talks.

But even as the White House was working to do this, it was losing ground. Yet another company, Mercedes-Benz, is now preparing to join the California agreement, according to two people familiar with the German company’s plans.

Mr. Trump, described by three people as “enraged” by California’s deal, has also demanded that his staffers step up the pace to complete his plan. His proposal, however, is directly at odds with the wishes of many automakers, which fear that the aggressive rollbacks will spark a legal battle between California and the federal government that could split the United States car market in two.

The administration’s efforts to weaken the Obama-era pollution rules could be rendered irrelevant if too many automakers join California in opposition before the plan can be put into effect. That could imperil one of Mr. Trump’s most far-reaching rollbacks of climate-change policies.

In addition to Mercedes-Benz, a sixth prominent automaker — one of the three summoned last month to the White House — also intends to disregard the Trump proposal and stick to the current, stricter federal emissions standards for at least the next four years, according to executives at the company.

Together, the six manufacturers who so far plan not to adhere to the new Trump rules account for more than 40 percent of all cars sold in the United States.

“You get to a point where, if enough companies are with California, then what the Trump administration is doing is moot,” said Alan Krupnick, an economist with Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan energy and environment research organization.

A senior administration official called the California pact “a government solution to force the adoption of expensive vehicles that everyday Americans don’t want or need.” Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added: “It’s simply top-down policymaking from California that’s trying to force their standard on 49 other states.”

The Trump administration’s proposal would drastically weaken the 2012 vehicle pollution standards put in place by President Barack Obama, which remain the single largest policy enacted by the United States to reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions. The Obama-era rules require automakers to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, cutting carbon dioxide pollution by about six billion tons over the lifetime of all the cars affected by the regulations, about the same amount the United States produces in a year.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps the sun’s heat and is a major contributor to climate change.

Mr. Trump has billed his plan, which would freeze the standards at about 37 miles per gallon, as a deregulatory win for automakers that will also keep down car prices for American consumers. Mr. Trump’s plan would also revoke the legal authority of California and other states to impose their own emissions standards.

In an extraordinary move, automakers have balked at Mr. Trump’s proposal, mainly because California and 13 other states plan to continue enforcing their current, stricter rules, and to sue the Trump administration. That could lead to a nightmare scenario for automakers: Years of regulatory uncertainty and a United States auto market that effectively split in two.

Last week, California officials said in interviews that they expected more automakers to join their pact, which commits carmakers to build vehicles to a standard nearly as strict as the Obama-era rules that the president would like to weaken. “Many companies have told us — more than one or two — that they would sign up the agreement as soon as they felt free to do so,” said Mary Nichols, the top clean air official in California.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159466788_45f2b212-f7cb-4526-bd5a-f3f2bae13117-articleLarge Trump’s Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules Shows Signs of Disarray United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Jr Transportation Department (US) Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Mercedes-Benz Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Efficiency Environmental Protection Agency environment Carbon Dioxide Automobiles

Mary Nichols of the California Air Resources Board in 2018.CreditDavid Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Officials from Mercedes-Benz declined to comment.

Executives from the three auto companies summoned to the White House declined to comment publicly on their interactions with the Trump administration. But at a recent press event, Mike Manley, Fiat Chrysler’s chief executive, said of the California pact: “We are absolutely going to have a look at it and see what it means.”

In the Trump administration, three senior political officials working on the rollback, a complex legal and scientific process, have all left the administration recently. A senior career official with years of experience on vehicle pollution policy was transferred to another office.

That means the process is now being helmed by Francis Brooke, a 29-year-old White House aide with limited experience in climate change policy before moving over from Vice President Mike Pence’s office last year. Given the lack of experienced senior staffers, people working on the plan say it is now unlikely to be completed before October.

At the same time, staff members at the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department, which are writing the rule, say they are struggling to assemble a coherent technical and scientific analysis required by law to implement a rule change of this scope.

Several analyses by academics and consumer advocates have questioned administration’s claim of benefits to the public. An Aug. 7 report by Consumer Reports concluded that Mr. Trump’s proposed rollback would cost consumers $460 billion between vehicle model years 2021 and 2035, an average of $3,300 more per vehicle, in car prices and gasoline purchases. It also found the rollback would increase the nation’s oil consumption by 320 billion gallons.

“The numbers, public comments and real analysis are at odds with what the White House wants to do,” said one career staff member at the E.P.A., speaking on condition of anonymity.

The White House official called the staff departures “irrelevant” and said that the rule was near completion. “It is a major change, so it does take time. What we are seeing now is that people who were opposed to the rule from the beginning, including some in the automotive industry, are starting to get nervous that our plan to make cars safer and more affordable is going to succeed.”

Policy experts point out that Mr. Trump’s quest to undo his predecessor’s signature climate-change regulation despite opposition from the very industry being regulated is extraordinarily unusual. For automakers, they say, it makes more sense to try to remain globally competitive by building more sophisticated vehicles as the world market moves toward more efficient cars.

“I don’t think there is any precedent for a major industry to say, ‘We are prepared to have a stronger regulation,’ and to have the White House say, ‘No, we know better,’” said William K. Reilly, who headed the E.P.A. in the first George Bush administration.

For some companies, Mr. Trump’s regulations are already moot. An E.P.A. assessment of the 2017 Honda CR-V, the best-selling SUV in the country that year, showed the car is set to meet 2022 Obama-era targets five years ahead of schedule. Honda is one of the four automakers to have signed on to the California pact, along with Ford, Volkswagen and BMW.

Late last month, in the days immediately after deal between California and the four automakers was announced, White House discussions ranged widely about how to respond.

At one White House meeting, Mr. Trump went so far as to propose scrapping his own rollback plan and keeping the Obama regulations in place, while still revoking California’s legal authority to set its own standards, according to the three people familiar with the meeting. The president framed it as a way to retaliate against both California and the four automakers in California’s camp, those people said.

Neal E. Boudette contributed reporting from Detroit.

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States Sue Trump Administration Over Rollback of Obama-Era Climate Rule

WASHINGTON — A coalition of 29 states and cities on Tuesday sued to block the Trump administration from easing restrictions on coal-burning power plants. The move could ultimately limit how much leverage future administrations would have to fight climate change by restricting a major source of Earth-warming pollution.

The lawsuit, led by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, argued the Environmental Protection Agency had no basis for weakening an Obama-era regulation that set the first-ever national limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants.

That rule, the Clean Power Plan, required states to implement plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2022, and encouraged that to happen by closing heavily-polluting plants and replacing those energy sources with natural gas or renewable energy. Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is a major contributor to global warming because it traps the sun’s heat.

The lawsuit — by 22 states and seven cities including Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Chicago and Miami — is the latest swing of the legal pendulum in a long-running dispute over how to regulate emissions from coal plants. Previously, Republican-led states and industry groups had sued to stop Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan from going into effect, and won a reprieve when the Supreme Court in 2016 temporarily blocked the Obama administration from imposing changes.

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The new challenge, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, argues that the Trump administration’s replacement, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, ignores the E.P.A.’s responsibility under the law to set limits on greenhouse gases. It maintains that the new rule would actually extend the life of dirty and aging coal-burning plants, promoting an increase in pollution instead of curbing it.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156677724_476a4b41-7091-4a33-a768-21ebd611f844-articleLarge States Sue Trump Administration Over Rollback of Obama-Era Climate Rule Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government Regulation and Deregulation of Industry James, Letitia Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency environment Carbon Dioxide

E.P.A. administrator Andrew Wheeler signing the Affordable Clean Energy Rule at a ceremony in June.CreditAlex Brandon/Associated Press

It’s a legal battle that could again go all the way to the Supreme Court. This time, if justices ultimately decide in favor of the Trump administration and find the Clean Air Act does not allow the government to direct broad changes to the nation’s energy deployment, it could permanently weaken the United States’ ability to tackle its contributions to global warming.

“It would have a devastating effect on the ability of future administrations to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act,” said Richard L. Revesz, a professor at New York University who specializes in environmental law. “It would essentially make it extremely difficult to regulate greenhouse gases effectively,” he said.

Michael Abboud, an E.P.A. spokesman, said in a statement that the agency does not comment on pending litigation. But he said of the A.C.E. regulations: “EPA worked diligently to ensure we produced a solid rule, that we believe will be upheld in the courts, unlike the previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan.”

Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the E.P.A., announced the new rule in June at an event attended by coal-industry leaders, utility lobbyists and prominent deniers of climate change science.

Unlike the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, the Trump rule does not cap greenhouse gas emissions. Instead it leaves it up to states to decide whether, or if, to scale back emissions and pick from a menu of technologies to improve power-plant efficiency at the facility level.

Under the Clean Air Act, the E.P.A. is required to use the “best system of emissions reduction.” The Obama-era options included switching to cleaner energy sources like gas, solar or wind; putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions; or using technology that could capture and store carbon dioxide rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. The Trump-administration rule, by contrast, focuses solely on new efficiency measures for individual plants.

Mr. Wheeler argued that the Obama administration had overreached its authority with its rule and that the Trump administration’s plan was legally defensible. Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan was suspended by the Supreme Court in 2016 after challenges from 28 Republican-led states and several major industry organizations.

The coalition filing the lawsuit is led by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James.CreditMary Altaffer/Associated Press

Those groups said Mr. Obama’s plan was unduly burdensome to utilities and too costly for consumers, a position that Mr. Wheeler also embraced. He maintained that A.C.E. would lead to a reduction of 10 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and provide net benefits of $70 million each year. He also, however, said the new rule could lead to new coal plants being built.

Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, called the Trump administration’s rule “toothless,” described it as the “fossil fuel protection plan” and said the rule artificially narrows E.P.A.’s authority. “The Clean Air Act requires the E.P.A. to utilize the best system of emissions reduction that it can find. This rule does the opposite,” he said.

Ms. James said under the Trump administration’s suggested best system of reducing emissions, carbon dioxide pollution will come down only 0.7 percent more in the coming decade than it would if no rule existed at all.

Others joining the suit include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as Boulder, Los Angeles, New York City and Philadelphia.

A coalition of environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund are expected to file their own legal challenge this week.

Two leading public health groups, the American Public Health Association and the American Lung Association, have already filed suit to block the Trump administration plan.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a trade group that represents coal producers, last week filed a motion in support of the Trump administration. Michelle Bloodworth, the organization’s chief operating officer, said in a statement that she believes the E.P.A. has a “strong legal case” but added “we also want to help E.P.A. defend the new rule against others who prefer extreme regulation.”

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E.P.A. Won’t Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced it would not ban a widely used pesticide associated with developmental disabilities and other health problems in children.

The decision not to prohibit the use of the pesticide, chlorpyrifos, comes after years of legal wrangling. It represents a victory for the chemical industry and farmers who have lobbied to continue using the substance, arguing it is necessary to protect crops.

In making its ruling, the E.P.A. rejected claims that the amount of pesticide residue allowed to remain in or on treated foods was unsafe, and said that the science was unsettled.

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“E.P.A. has determined that their objections must be denied because the data available are not sufficiently valid, complete or reliable to meet petitioners’ burden to present evidence demonstrating that the tolerances are not safe,” the agency said in a statement.

The agency added that it would continue to review the safety of chlorpyrifos through 2022.

The product, sold under the commercial name Lorsban, has already been banned for household use but remains in widespread use by farmers for more than 50 fruit, nut, cereal and vegetable crops.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154567812_dd50d9f3-1522-44e8-b856-75c3db729a7b-articleLarge E.P.A. Won’t Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems Pesticides Environmental Protection Agency environment Chlorpyrifos

A fruit orchard in Arvin, Calif.  California is one of the states moving to prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos.CreditDamian Dovarganes/Associated Press

The Obama administration decided to ban chlorpyrifos in 2015 after scientific studies produced by the E.P.A. showed the pesticide had the potential to damage brain development in children. But in 2017 Scott Pruitt, then the administrator of the E.P.A., reversed that prohibition, setting off a new round of legal challenges.

Patti Goldman, an attorney for Earthjustice, an environmental group that brought a legal challenge against the E.P.A.’s 2017 decision on behalf of farmworker organizations and others, criticized the decision.

“By allowing chlorpyrifos to stay in our fruits and vegetables, Trump’s E.P.A. is breaking the law and neglecting the overwhelming scientific evidence that this pesticide harms children’s brains,” Ms. Goldman said in a statement.

A federal appeals court in April ordered the E.P.A. to make a final ruling on whether to ban chlorpyrifos by this month. Since then a number of states, including California and New York, have moved to prohibit its use.

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Trump Saw Opportunity in Speech on Environment. Critics Saw a ‘“1984” Moment.’

WASHINGTON — Reviewing new polling data, consultants working for President Trump’s 2020 campaign discovered an unsurprising obstacle to winning support from two key demographic groups, millennials and suburban women. And that was his record on the environment.

But they also saw an opportunity. While the numbers showed that Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change, a senior administration official who reviewed the polling said, there were moderate voters who liked the president’s economic policies and “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues.

So for nearly an hour in the East Room on Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump sought to recast his administration’s record by describing what he called “America’s environmental leadership” under his command.

Flanked by several cabinet members and senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other a former oil lobbyist — Mr. Trump rattled off a grab bag of his administration’s accomplishments, which he said included “being good stewards of our public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.

“These are incredible goals that everyone in this country should be able to rally behind,” Mr. Trump said. “I really think that’s something that is bipartisan,” he said, adding that he had disproved critics who said his pro-business policies would harm the environment.

Experts watching the speech said many of the president’s claims were not based in fact. Those achievements that were real, they said, were the result of actions taken by his predecessors. And they noted the one conspicuous omission from the whole discussion: any mention of climate change, the overarching environmental threat that Mr. Trump has mocked in the past.

David G. Victor, the director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, said the speech was the starkest example to date of the disconnect between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and reality. “This speech is a true ‘1984’ moment,” he said.

[Read our fact check of the president’s speech.]

Mr. Trump called himself a protector of public land, but he has taken unprecedented steps to open up public lands to drilling, including signing off on the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history, and lifting an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands.

He repeatedly cited his desire for clear water, but the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of rolling back an Obama-era clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands.

He described himself as a champion of the oceans, while he and Mary Neumayr, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, have promoted policies that the United States has advanced to reduce marine debris, particularly plastic drinking straws. But Mr. Trump did not mention that his administration has proposed opening up the entire United States coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling.

And he boasted that carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have gone down over the past decade, “more than any other country on earth.” But while it is true that carbon emissions have declined by over 10 percent in that time, over a dozen other countries — including most of the European Union — have seen declines of more than twice that.

In a phone call with reporters earlier Monday, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, cited data going back to the Nixon administration in describing the Trump administration’s accomplishments.

“There’s this factoid out there that the U.S. is a leader in reducing emissions,” said Richard Newell, the president of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington. “That is just not true. It is disingenuous to both celebrate the decline in U.S. CO2 emissions at the same time that one promotes the use of coal power. You can’t have both.”

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-articleLarge Trump Saw Opportunity in Speech on Environment. Critics Saw a ‘“1984” Moment.’ Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Trump, Donald J Luntz, Frank I Lobbying and Lobbyists Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency Brinkley, Douglas G

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

Last month, in a move that represented the Trump administration’s most direct effort to date to protect the coal industry, the E.P.A. finalized a plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s stringent rule on coal pollution with a new rule that would keep plants that use it to generate electricity open longer and significantly increase the nation’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide.

The E.P.A. is also expected to finalize another plan this summer that would abandon Mr. Obama’s strict regulations on planet-warming tailpipe pollution in automobiles, replacing them with a new rule that experts say is likely to function as a total repeal of the original regulation.

Mr. Trump seemed to place a particular emphasis on environmental problems afflicting Florida, a state vital to his re-election, emphasizing that he backs restoring the Everglades, and that his administration has directed over half a billion dollars to mitigate a toxic tide of red algal blooms that originate in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. He invited Bruce Hrobak, a bait and tackle shop owner in Port St. Lucie, Fla., who said his shop was devastated by the red tide, to the podium.

“You jumping into this environment brings my heart to warmth,” Mr. Hrobak told Mr. Trump, adding that his own father looked like Mr. Trump “but you’re much handsomer.”

Polls show that Florida is one state where Republican voters rank environmental issues as a top concern. The reason, the polls have found, is that Florida is now on the front lines of climate change, as Miami and other cities experience consistent, damaging flooding as a result of sea level rise and a warming planet.

But Mr. Trump made no mention of climate change, nor did he revisit a tendency to proudly sell himself as a champion of the coal industry and fossil fuels in general — even as they remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

This incongruous message of environmental action was so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record that some critics found the moment almost surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who has written about environmental policy.

Mr. Trump was joined by Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has played a lead role in crafting rollbacks of rules on climate change and clean air, and David Bernhardt, the interior secretary and a former oil lobbyist who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

When asked whether Mr. Trump still believed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and whether windmills caused cancer, as the president has said, Mr. Wheeler said in a phone call that there were “positives and negatives” to all energy sources, and that administration officials were paying attention to this.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he had presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that showed that the public — and particularly younger people — wanted to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue was seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top-five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”

Among the Democrats who criticized the president’s speech on Monday was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

“Try as he might say otherwise,” Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor, “President Trump has proved himself probably the staunchest ally of the worst polluters, of any president we have ever had.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Speech

WASHINGTON — Reviewing new polling data, consultants working for President Trump’s 2020 campaign discovered an unsurprising obstacle to winning support from two key demographic groups, millennials and suburban women. And that was his record on the environment.

But they also saw an opportunity. While the numbers showed that Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change, a senior administration official who reviewed the polling said, there were moderate voters who liked the president’s economic policies and “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues.

So for nearly an hour in the East Room on Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump sought to recast his administration’s record by describing what he called “America’s environmental leadership” under his command.

Flanked by several cabinet members and senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other a former oil lobbyist — Mr. Trump rattled off a grab bag of his administration’s accomplishments, which he said included “being good stewards of our public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.

“These are incredible goals that everyone in this country should be able to rally behind,” Mr. Trump said. “I really think that’s something that is bipartisan,” he said, adding that he had disproved critics who said his pro-business policies would harm the environment.

Experts watching the speech said many of the president’s claims were not based in fact. Those achievements that were real, they said, were the result of actions taken by his predecessors. And they noted the one conspicuous omission from the whole discussion: any mention of climate change, the overarching environmental threat that Mr. Trump has mocked in the past.

David G. Victor, the director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, said the speech was the starkest example to date of the disconnect between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and reality. “This speech is a true ‘1984’ moment,” he said.

Mr. Trump called himself a protector of public land, but he has taken unprecedented steps to open up public lands to drilling, including signing off on the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history, and lifting an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands.

He repeatedly cited his desire for clear water, but the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of rolling back an Obama-era clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands.

He described himself as a champion of the oceans, while he and Mary Neumayr, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, have promoted policies that the United States has advanced to reduce marine debris, particularly plastic drinking straws. But Mr. Trump did not mention that his administration has proposed opening up the entire United States coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling.

And he boasted that carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have gone down over the past decade, “more than any other country on earth.” But while it is true that carbon emissions have declined by over 10 percent in that time, over a dozen other countries — including most of the European Union — have seen declines of more than twice that.

In a phone call with reporters earlier Monday, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, cited data going back to the Nixon administration in describing the Trump administration’s accomplishments.

“There’s this factoid out there that the U.S. is a leader in reducing emissions,” said Richard Newell, the president of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington. “That is just not true. It is disingenuous to both celebrate the decline in U.S. CO2 emissions at the same time that one promotes the use of coal power. You can’t have both.”

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-articleLarge Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Speech Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Trump, Donald J Luntz, Frank I Lobbying and Lobbyists Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency Brinkley, Douglas G

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

Last month, in a move that represented the Trump administration’s most direct effort to date to protect the coal industry, the E.P.A. finalized a plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s stringent rule on coal pollution with a new rule that would keep plants that use it to generate electricity open longer and significantly increase the nation’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide.

The E.P.A. is also expected to finalize another plan this summer that would abandon Mr. Obama’s strict regulations on planet-warming tailpipe pollution in automobiles, replacing them with a new rule that experts say is likely to function as a total repeal of the original regulation.

Mr. Trump seemed to place a particular emphasis on environmental problems afflicting Florida, a state vital to his re-election, emphasizing that he backs restoring the Everglades, and that his administration has directed over half a billion dollars to mitigate a toxic tide of red algal blooms that originate in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. He invited Bruce Hrobak, a bait and tackle shop owner in Port St. Lucie, Fla., who said his shop was devastated by the red tide, to the podium.

“You jumping into this environment brings my heart to warmth,” Mr. Hrobak told Mr. Trump, adding that his own father looked like Mr. Trump “but you’re much handsomer.”

Polls show that Florida is one state where Republican voters rank environmental issues as a top concern. The reason, the polls have found, is that Florida is now on the front lines of climate change, as Miami and other cities experience consistent, damaging flooding as a result of sea level rise and a warming planet.

But Mr. Trump made no mention of climate change, nor did he revisit a tendency to proudly sell himself as a champion of the coal industry and fossil fuels in general — even as they remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

This incongruous message of environmental action was so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record that some critics found the moment almost surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who has written about environmental policy.

Mr. Trump was joined by Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has played a lead role in crafting rollbacks of rules on climate change and clean air, and David Bernhardt, the interior secretary and a former oil lobbyist who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

When asked whether Mr. Trump still believed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and whether windmills caused cancer, as the president has said, Mr. Wheeler said in a phone call that there were “positives and negatives” to all energy sources, and that administration officials were paying attention to this.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he had presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that showed that the public — and particularly younger people — wanted to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue was seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top-five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”

Among the Democrats who criticized the president’s speech on Monday was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

“Try as he might say otherwise,” Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor, “President Trump has proved himself probably the staunchest ally of the worst polluters, of any president we have ever had.”

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Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Climate Speech

WASHINGTON — President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the international Paris climate change accord, sought to roll back or weaken over 80 environmental regulations and punted on global environmental leadership.

“On the issue of environmental stewardship,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, “Trump is seen around the world as a Darth Vader-like figure.”

But Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump delivered a speech billed as “America’s Environmental Leadership.” He was flanked by his two senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other a former oil lobbyist.

But the idea for the speech did not start with the president. It started with consultants on his re-election campaign who have discovered that his environmental record is a definite turnoff for two key demographics — millennials and suburban women, according to two people familiar with the plans.

In an administration that has often had a muddled approach to policy, both Mr. Trump’s allies and his enemies agree that in initiating the rollback of environmental rules he has clearly delivered on his campaign promises. In his speech, he trumpeted that rollback as part of what administration officials say is an economy-boosting approach to the environment that could appeal to at least some of the voters unhappy with his record.

In a phone call with reporters on Monday, Andrew Wheeler, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said that

“Air pollution has continued to decline under President Trump’s leadership. We continue to make progress on the water side.”

When asked whether Mr. Trump still believed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and whether windmills cause cancer, as the president has said, Mr. Wheeler said that there were “positives and negatives” to all energy sources, and that administration officials were paying attention to this.

In his speech, Mr. Trump also lauded the fact that the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions have dropped about 10 percent in recent years. But that drop is largely due to market shifts leading to an increase in the use of natural gas, which produces about half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal. Under Mr. Trump’s policies, which are intended to promote the use of more polluting coal, those emissions are now expected to rise.

“These steps to support coal-based power in fact run in the opposite direction of the cause of climate change,” said Richard Newell, the president of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington.

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-articleLarge Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Climate Speech Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Trump, Donald J Luntz, Frank I Lobbying and Lobbyists Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency Brinkley, Douglas G

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

“It is disingenuous to both celebrate the decline in U.S. CO2 emissions at the same time that one promotes the use of coal power,” he said. “You can’t have both.”

Mr. Trump’s most notable efforts to weaken environmental protections have been on climate change, which many environmental scientists and policy experts call the defining threat to humanity of the 21st century. Mr. Trump has publicly mocked the established science of human-caused climate change.

And he has proudly sold himself as a champion of the coal industry — even as emissions from burning coal remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

A senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and had reviewed internal campaign polling, said that the numbers showed Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change.

But, the official said, there were moderate voters who like the president’s economic policies who “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues. And that is who the speech will be aimed at convincing.

Mr. Trump was joined by Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, and David Bernhardt, the interior secretary and a former oil lobbyist, who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

Last month, in a move that represented the Trump administration’s most direct effort to date to protect the coal industry, the E.P.A. finalized its plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s stringent rule on coal pollution with a new rule that would keep plants open longer and significantly increase the nation’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution.

This summer, the E.P.A. is expected to finalize another plan that would replace Mr. Obama’s strict regulations on planet-warming tailpipe pollution, replacing them with a new rule that experts say is likely to function as a total repeal of the original regulation.

The incongruous message of environmental preservation is so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record, experts say, that the moment already smacks of the surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” Mr. Brinkley said.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he had presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that showed that the public — and particularly younger people — wanted to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue was seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top-five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”

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‘In Bad Faith’: Big Tech’s Growing Conservative Censorship

Westlake Legal Group in-bad-faith-big-techs-growing-conservative-censorship ‘In Bad Faith’: Big Tech’s Growing Conservative Censorship World Wide Web wireless Welfare Veterans Administration twitter trade Title II Reclassification Title II Time Warner tea party Taxes tax reform tax day Tax Tariffs tariff stop online piracy act STELA spectrum incentive auction spectrum auctions Spectrum SOPA social security Social Media slowdown Slow Lanes Shutdown Science Sales tax Russia collusion Robert McChesney Retransmission Consent Retransmission republicans Regulation reed hastings reclassification public broadband protect ip act Privacy PRISM President Barack Obama Portland Politics Policy PIPA patriot Obamacare Obama NSA News network neutrality Netflix Net Neutrality National Security Agency municipal broadband muni broadband merger Medicare Media Marxists MARK LLOYD Local Choice law july 12 day of action John Brennan james comey James Clapper IRS internet sales taxes Internet Sales Tax internet reclassification Internet Internal Revenue Service infrastructure spending Infrastructure Hillary Clinton HHS Health and Human Services government broadband Government Google Fiber Google gamers FTC Front Page Stories Front Page Free trade food stamps fiat Federal Trade Commission Federal Communications Commission FEC FCC Diversity Czar fcc chairman tom wheeler FCC Fast Lanes fast and furious farm policy farm law Farm Bill facebook evan greer EPA Environmental Protection Agency Endorsements elections Edward Snowden Ed Markey Economy Economics EBT donald trump Department of Agriculture democrats default debt ceiling crossfire hurricane Cronyism crony socialism crony capitalism critical infrastructure crime CRA Congressional Review Act comcast Chicago Campaigns Business & Economy Budget broadband April 15 AOC antitrust antifa amazon Alexandria Ocasio-Cotez Affordable Care Act acquisition #OccupyPortland “federal spending”

The latest Big Tech censorship news broke last week:

Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Other Far-Right Figures

Let us for the moment leave aside this massive media inanity:

“Farrakhan also among those removed from social-media sites.”

If Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is “far-right” – I’m all the way back around to Karl Marx.

That being said, the latest move by Big Tech to de-platform people they don’t like – cleaved the center-right in two…Donald Trump-style.

The Trump-Never Trump Venn Diagram – is a nigh perfect overlay with the division over Big Tech censorship.

The Never Trump (NT) contingent mostly refused to defend the de-platformed – mostly on three fronts.

One: The de-platformed aren’t themselves defensible.  Because by their NT definition – they aren’t actually conservatives.  And/or they simply do not like them.

Which is willful blindness to the inexorable next waves of Big Tech purges – which will undoubtedly swallow very many who meet their definitions.

Next the NTers – start REALLY sounding Leftist.

Two: The de-platformed’s speech – may actually incite violence.  That crazy people will read what they say – and commit violence as a result.

This is at once incredibly anti-First Amendment, Leftist and intellectually diminutive (please pardon the redundancy).

Crazy people – are crazy.  They can be driven to mad acts – by their refrigerator manual.  Or by a Rogaine commercial.  Or by a flower opening in their yard.  Serial killer David Berkowitz said he took his murderous orders – from a dog named Harvey owned by his neighbor Sam.

Westlake Legal Group censored-620x331 ‘In Bad Faith’: Big Tech’s Growing Conservative Censorship World Wide Web wireless Welfare Veterans Administration twitter trade Title II Reclassification Title II Time Warner tea party Taxes tax reform tax day Tax Tariffs tariff stop online piracy act STELA spectrum incentive auction spectrum auctions Spectrum SOPA social security Social Media slowdown Slow Lanes Shutdown Science Sales tax Russia collusion Robert McChesney Retransmission Consent Retransmission republicans Regulation reed hastings reclassification public broadband protect ip act Privacy PRISM President Barack Obama Portland Politics Policy PIPA patriot Obamacare Obama NSA News network neutrality Netflix Net Neutrality National Security Agency municipal broadband muni broadband merger Medicare Media Marxists MARK LLOYD Local Choice law july 12 day of action John Brennan james comey James Clapper IRS internet sales taxes Internet Sales Tax internet reclassification Internet Internal Revenue Service infrastructure spending Infrastructure Hillary Clinton HHS Health and Human Services government broadband Government Google Fiber Google gamers FTC Front Page Stories Front Page Free trade food stamps fiat Federal Trade Commission Federal Communications Commission FEC FCC Diversity Czar fcc chairman tom wheeler FCC Fast Lanes fast and furious farm policy farm law Farm Bill facebook evan greer EPA Environmental Protection Agency Endorsements elections Edward Snowden Ed Markey Economy Economics EBT donald trump Department of Agriculture democrats default debt ceiling crossfire hurricane Cronyism crony socialism crony capitalism critical infrastructure crime CRA Congressional Review Act comcast Chicago Campaigns Business & Economy Budget broadband April 15 AOC antitrust antifa amazon Alexandria Ocasio-Cotez Affordable Care Act acquisition #OccupyPortland “federal spending”

You simply can not sanitize the planet for crazy people.

And there is simply no way the threshold for violence-inciting speech – is this ridiculously low:

Conservative actor James Woods has been locked out of his Twitter account for now more than a week.  For curse-word-free quoting the TV show “The Wire.”

If it was on pay TV fifteen years ago – and available via streaming services ever since – there is no way Woods Tweeting it is even remotely problematic.

We’ll get into more, even more ridiculous examples in just a bit.

Three: The NTers say “These Big Tech monsters are private companies – and they can have or not have whomever they wish on their platforms.”

Under normal circumstances, this is exactly the First Amendment “freedom to assemble” argument I have made my entire life.

In our private and business lives, we are free to assemble – or not assemble – any way we wish.  Completely free from government interference or imposition.

I made this exact argument when the Colorado baker wouldn’t bake a homosexual wedding cake.  His lawyers made the “freedom of religion” argument – which worked, he won – but that was to me the weaker tack to take.

“It’s my private business…and I reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” – seems undeniably strong to me.

But when faced by monstrous Big Tech’s de-platforming – this argument simply does not apply.  For several reasons.

For starters – Big Tech isn’t making this argument:

“Facebook Inc. said it’s banning a number of controversial far-right figures…for violating the social-media company’s policies on hate speech and promoting violence.”

This is omni-directional absurd.

“Promoting violence” – ???

Gay gadfly Milo Yiannopoulos was among the recently Facebook banned.  He was also banned by Twitter in 2016.

Milo has to my knowledge – and I LOOKED prior to writing this – never said a single thing that could be even remotely construed to incite violence.

But what about Leftist radical group Antifa?

Antifa got a Milo appearance at Berkley University cancelled – by violently tearing up the campus the month prior to Milo’s arrival.

Here’s a bunch of videos of Antifa’s violent Berkley destruction.  Here’s more videos of Antifa violence – in Portland, Oregon, Huntington Beach, California, Laguna Beach, California, at Kent State University and elsewhere.  Here are two compilations of Antifa attacking people all over the place.

But Facebook – hasn’t banned Antifa.

So Milo tries to peacefully engage in free speech at Berkley.  Antifa responds with violence.

And Berkley, Twitter and Facebook – ban Milo, and keep Antifa.

That’s…a little backwards.

And “hate speech” – is speech.  You can’t ban the adjective – without banning the underlying noun.

And “hate” – is in the eye of the beholder.  And the beholder – has biases.  Because the beholder – is human(s).

Let’s do some basic math, shall we?

There are about seven-and-a-half billion people on Planet Earth.  Let’s conservatively say three billion of them have access to the Internet – which means access to Big Tech’s platforms.

There is literally no way a website with as many posting members as a Facebook or YouTube – can possibly read each and every post for possible deleting purposes.  There are simply WAY too many.

So the platforms will have to come up with some sort of criteria to preemptively prevent the kinds of posts they wish to prevent.

Well, Big Tech – is exceedingly hard Left.  So their criteria – will be exceedingly hard Left.

Google, Facebook, Reddit Are Run by a Bunch of ‘Left-Wing Guys’

Facebook, Google, YouTube All Discriminate Against Conservatives

Silicon Valley’s Anti-Conservatism Is Getting Really Ridiculous

The Tech World Is Still Screwing Conservatives

Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News

Google is Rigging Searches for Hillary Clinton

Google is STILL Rigging Searches for Hillary Clinton

Google Execs’ Trump Meltdown Reminds: There’s No Such Thing As ‘Unbiased’

96 Percent of Google Search Results for ‘Trump’ News Are from Liberal Media Outlets

The Purge: YouTube Mass-Censors Conservatives, New Right, Classical Liberals

Undercover Video: Twitter Engineers To ‘Ban a Way of Talking’ Through ‘Shadow Banning,’ Algorithms to Censor Opposing Political Opinions

Liberal Journos Prove Twitter is Censoring Conservatives

Twitter’s Anti-Conservative Political Bias

Twitter CEO Dorsey: Comment Backing ‘Free Speech’ Was ‘a Joke’

We could list examples…until the crack of Doom.

All of which brings us to: The 1996 Communications Decency Act – and its Section 230.

Which gives Big Tech companies running allegedly open platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – immunity from the lawsuit likes of slander, libel and Intellectual Property (IP) infringement.

Because it is users – not the companies – posting on their platforms.

So if a user slanders someone on Facebook – Facebook must remove the post when made aware, but can not be sued for it.

If a user uploads an entire movie to YouTube – Google must remove it when made aware, but can not be sued for it.

Makes perfect sense.

Except: The Big Tech companies were given this massive immunity – in exchange for each being an open platform.

Where everyone can post – and the companies do not edit.

If the companies start editing content and users, they cease to be immunized “platforms” – and start to be sue-able “publishers.”

To wit: The New York Times is a publisher.  With First Amendment rights – including the freedom to assemble any way they wish.  But they can be sued for slander, libel and IP infringement.

Big Tech – can’t have it both ways.  Availing themselves of “platform” immunities – while editing conservatives out of existence like “publishers.”

Big Tech’s Lying Legal Two-Step – To Defend Their Censorship Of Conservatives

Here’s the portion of Section 230 – on which Big Tech seems to be hanging its anti-conservative hats:

“Civil liability:

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—

“(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

“(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph.”

(Emphasis ours.)

If Big Tech’s censorship is done “in good faith” – they do not lose their lawsuit immunity.

No one with an IQ above nine on a warm day – can possibly think Big Tech is censoring “in good faith.”

I’m no lawyer (thank God) – but there are several ways to address the monster, censoring monoliths these Big Tech companies have become.

Certainly antitrust is one.  (We have, in fact, made this argument also – for several years.)

Ok – Milo is kicked off of Twitter and Facebook.  What competitors to these two behemoths can he join instead?  You can’t think of a single reasonable one for either – and neither can I.

Really long second shot: We may even be able to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act:

“(C)ommonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO,…focuses specifically on racketeering and allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing, closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who instructed someone else to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually commit the crime personally.”

But where we should certainly start – is Big Tech’s wanton and blatant violations of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

I’ve been told by a Never Trump attorney that it is impossible to prove “bad faith” in court.

I’d argue I just did here in print.

But if it’s true this part of the law is unenforceable – then the law is an ass.

We should throw it out – and pass something enforceable in its place.

We must do something about what’s happening.

Because what’s happening – ain’t great for the future of our nation.

The post ‘In Bad Faith’: Big Tech’s Growing Conservative Censorship appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group censored-620x331-copy-300x160 ‘In Bad Faith’: Big Tech’s Growing Conservative Censorship World Wide Web wireless Welfare Veterans Administration twitter trade Title II Reclassification Title II Time Warner tea party Taxes tax reform tax day Tax Tariffs tariff stop online piracy act STELA spectrum incentive auction spectrum auctions Spectrum SOPA social security Social Media slowdown Slow Lanes Shutdown Science Sales tax Russia collusion Robert McChesney Retransmission Consent Retransmission republicans Regulation reed hastings reclassification public broadband protect ip act Privacy PRISM President Barack Obama Portland Politics Policy PIPA patriot Obamacare Obama NSA News network neutrality Netflix Net Neutrality National Security Agency municipal broadband muni broadband merger Medicare Media Marxists MARK LLOYD Local Choice law july 12 day of action John Brennan james comey James Clapper IRS internet sales taxes Internet Sales Tax internet reclassification Internet Internal Revenue Service infrastructure spending Infrastructure Hillary Clinton HHS Health and Human Services government broadband Government Google Fiber Google gamers FTC Front Page Stories Front Page Free trade food stamps fiat Federal Trade Commission Federal Communications Commission FEC FCC Diversity Czar fcc chairman tom wheeler FCC Fast Lanes fast and furious farm policy farm law Farm Bill facebook evan greer EPA Environmental Protection Agency Endorsements elections Edward Snowden Ed Markey Economy Economics EBT donald trump Department of Agriculture democrats default debt ceiling crossfire hurricane Cronyism crony socialism crony capitalism critical infrastructure crime CRA Congressional Review Act comcast Chicago Campaigns Business & Economy Budget broadband April 15 AOC antitrust antifa amazon Alexandria Ocasio-Cotez Affordable Care Act acquisition #OccupyPortland “federal spending”   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Six Years Ago, He Helped Expose VW’s Diesel Fraud. This Year, G.M. Let Him Go.

Westlake Legal Group six-years-ago-he-helped-expose-vws-diesel-fraud-this-year-g-m-let-him-go Six Years Ago, He Helped Expose VW’s Diesel Fraud. This Year, G.M. Let Him Go. Winterkorn, Martin west virginia Volkswagen AG United States Layoffs and Job Reductions Germany General Motors Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency Frankfurt (Germany) Foreign Workers Foreign Students (in US) Environmental Protection Agency California Air Resources Board Bangalore (India) Automobiles Air Pollution

FRANKFURT — Hemanth Kappanna might seem like just another victim of corporate restructuring, a foreign worker whose skills were no longer needed, a middle-age man with dashed American dreams.

But Mr. Kappanna, an engineer born in India who was laid off by General Motors in February, changed automotive history.

In 2013, he was part of a small team of engineering students in West Virginia whose research helped expose Volkswagen’s decade-long conspiracy to lie about its diesel cars’ excessive emissions. The German carmaker has paid $23 billion so far to resolve criminal charges and lawsuits in the United States, and $33 billion overall.

Mr. Kappanna’s role as a hero in bringing the Volkswagen scandal to light did not protect him when his supervisor called him into a conference room in Milford, Mich., this past winter.

Mr. Kappanna, who had studied and lived in the United States for 17 years, joined G.M. in December 2014 after finishing his doctorate. His most recent job involved communicating with the Environmental Protection Agency about the carmaker’s emissions technology.

The supervisor said it was nothing personal, Mr. Kappanna, 41, recalled by telephone from Michigan last week. His severance package consisted of two months’ pay and a one-way ticket to India. He was one of about 4,000 G.M. workers laid off in what the company called a “strategic transformation.”

“They let me go,” he said, still sounding bewildered. Unable to find a job before his work visa’s 60-day grace period expired, Mr. Kappanna returned to Bangalore, his hometown, a few days later.

Mr. Kappanna was a graduate student when he got involved in a “Mad Max” sort of experiment on Volkswagens.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_151445670_ec391688-037c-48ea-9a29-c212b796683c-articleLarge Six Years Ago, He Helped Expose VW’s Diesel Fraud. This Year, G.M. Let Him Go. Winterkorn, Martin west virginia Volkswagen AG United States Layoffs and Job Reductions Germany General Motors Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency Frankfurt (Germany) Foreign Workers Foreign Students (in US) Environmental Protection Agency California Air Resources Board Bangalore (India) Automobiles Air Pollution

A Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. The carmaker has paid $23 billion so far to resolve criminal charges and lawsuits in the United States related to the emissions scheme, and $33 billion overall.CreditSean Gallup/Getty Images

He was studying at West Virginia University in Morgantown, which is known for its research on auto emissions, when the director of his program asked him to complete a grant application from the International Council on Clean Transportation. The council, a nonprofit group, wanted to test the emissions of German diesel cars sold in America. Mr. Kappanna was pursuing a doctorate, and his proposal helped the university win a modest $70,000 grant.

The university planned a real-time test of emissions, and it rigged up an ingenious way to scrutinize the exhaust generated under open-road conditions. The standard practice was to test cars in specially equipped garages, which is much easier than trying to analyze fumes from a moving vehicle.

Mr. Kappanna and two other graduate students, Marc Besch from Switzerland and Arvind Thiruvengadam from India, were chosen to do the fieldwork. They bolted portable emissions-testing equipment to a sheet of plywood and crammed it into the back of a Volkswagen diesel station wagon.

The rig, powered by a portable gasoline generator, was noisy and smelly but, with every mile, it churned out data that challenged sticker-price assurances. The emissions were dirtier than anyone would have imagined.

Mr. Kappanna and his fellow students did not know it, but they were gathering evidence of a crime. Volkswagen engineers had devised so-called defeat device software that could recognize the standardized procedure used by regulators in their testing labs. In the labs, the software dialed up a car’s pollution controls.

But when officials were not looking or, more important, when the cars were being used by regular motorists, the software dialed down to save wear and tear on the fragile emissions-control equipment. Volkswagen never expected anyone, much less a group of graduate students, to test the cars on the highway, when the defeat device would not work.

Mr. Kappanna, Mr. Besch and Mr. Thiruvengadam documented that Volkswagens polluted far more than regulations allowed when they were driven on highways and city streets. In March 2014, Mr. Besch presented the findings at a conference for emissions experts in San Diego.

Their paper did not directly accuse Volkswagen of wrongdoing. But the data it included raised red flags for officials with the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency who were in the audience.

The regulators began an investigation that, a year and a half later, forced Volkswagen to confess that it had installed the cheating software in 11 million diesel cars worldwide, including almost 600,000 in the United States. The inquiry called attention to the health hazards of diesel fuel and spurred consumers to shun the technology.

Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg factory. The company has confessed to installing cheating software in 11 million diesel cars worldwide, including almost 600,000 in the United States.CreditSean Gallup/Getty Images

Today, two former Volkswagen executives are serving prison terms in the United States for their roles in trying to cover up the emissions fraud. Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen’s former chief executive, faces criminal charges in the United States and Germany for his alleged role in the scheme. He has denied wrongdoing.

The market share of diesel cars in Europe, once the most popular engine option in the region, was only 31 percent in March, the lowest level since 2000, according to data compiled by JATO Dynamics, a research firm.

Ironically, Mr. Kappanna’s most recent position at G.M. involved complying with tougher disclosure requirements that the E.P.A. imposed on carmakers after the Volkswagen scandal.

Mr. Kappanna is proud of his role in unmasking Volkswagen’s wrongdoing, but he also wonders whether he was seen within G.M. as overly zealous about compliance and too friendly to regulators.

“Certainly they could have seen me as biased,” he said. “I can’t really say.”

G.M. said this week that Mr. Kappanna’s dismissal “was not related to any emissions compliance concerns or related issues.” That he was not a United States citizen also played no role, G.M. said in an emailed statement.

Whatever the reason, Mr. Kappanna and other G.M. workers came to work in Milford on Feb. 4 to find notices taped to conference room doors: the rooms had been reserved for human resources meetings. Mr. Kappanna soon received a phone call from the director of his division to meet him in one of the rooms.

“I felt it even before I stepped into the room,” Mr. Kappanna said about the loss of his job.

He turned in his company laptop and a security guard escorted him out of the building. He was one of three people let go in a department of about 50. Colleagues, he said, reassured him that his dismissal was “one of those shortsighted decisions taken to meet the numbers.”

“It was completely wrong on the part of leadership,” he said they told him.

Still, when his co-workers invited Mr. Kappanna for a farewell beer that evening, he declined.

“I was still coming to terms with what had just happened,” he said.

He said he had a lead on a job with another automaker and still hoped to return to the United States. But the industry is suffering a slowdown and his prospects are uncertain. Single and with no children, he was apprehensive about returning to India after spending nearly half his life in America.

“I’m a little skeptical how I’m going to adapt,” he said.

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Manufacturing is Back – Now We Need a Food Manufacturing Restoration

When President Donald Trump was Candidate Donald Trump – he promised a restoration of the US manufacturing sector.

Which his predecessor – thankfully-ex-president Barack Obama – dismissed as impossible:

“When somebody says – like the person you just mentioned, who I’m not going to advertise for – that he’s going to bring all these jobs back.  Well, how exactly are you going to do that?  What are you going to do?  There’s no answer to it.  He just says ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’  Well, how exactly are you going to negotiate that?  What magic wand do you have?  And usually the answer is – he doesn’t have an answer.”

Undaunted by Obama and the Downers, just after winning election – Trump yet again teed up his administration:

“Our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports – and more on products made here in the USA….This is our mantra: Buy American – and hire American….Our country is all about making dreams come true.  Over the last number of years – that hasn’t been necessarily the case.  But we’re going to make it the case again….My focus has been all about jobs.  And jobs is one of the primary reasons I’m standing here today as your President.”

Two years hence, it would appear Trump is a combination of Merlin and Gandalf – wielding magic wands aplenty.

The Trump Manufacturing Jobs Boom: 10 Times Obama’s Over 21 Months

Things do not appear to be slowing down.

Trump’s Policy ‘Magic Wand’ Boosts Manufacturing Jobs 399% In First 26 Months Over Obama’s Last 26

All of which is, of course, spectacular news.

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The world has spent the last half century-plus – totally tilting the global market playing field against us.

Titanically stupidly – we have been allowing the world to do it.

Which Citizen Trump spent decades pointing out.  Here he is on The Oprah Winfrey Show – in 1988:

“We let Japan come in and dump everything right into our markets.  And it’s not free trade.  If you go to Japan right now and try to sell something – forget about it, Oprah.  Just forget about it.  It’s almost impossible.  They don’t have laws against it – they just make it impossible.  They come over here – they sell their cars, their VCRs.  They knock the hell out of our companies.  And hey – I have tremendous respect for the Japanese people.  You can respect someone who is beating the hell out of you.  But they are beating the hell out of this country.”

Oprah says “This sounds like presidential talk” – and asks if he’ll ever run.  To which Trump responds:

“Probably not.  But I do get tired of seeing the country ripped off….I do get tired of seeing what’s happening to this country.  And if it got so bad – I would never want to rule it out totally.  Because I really am tired of seeing what’s happening to this country.  How we’re really making other people live like kings – and we’re not.”

(Certainly sounds like a guy who would sell out to the Russians to get elected, does it not?  What a bunch of idiots those people are.)

Flash forward three decades – and Citizen Trump…is now President Trump.

Stupid Trade Policy Isn’t the Only Reason We Lose Jobs – But It’s a Big One

Crony Socialism: Governments All Over the World Are Messing Up a Free Trade Market

Trump Rightly Demands End to All Trade Tariffs And Subsidies – of Everyone

President Trump’s chief weapon to better the trade playing field – has been the tariff.  Dishing out an infinitesimal amount – of what we have been taking on the chin by the ton for decades.

The DC People who allowed the global market to become so anti-free trade and anti-American – freaked the heck out.  Bizarrely, in the name of “free trade.”

Is Trump’s Protectionism The Death Knell For Global Free Trade?

There’s a Glaring Problem with Trump’s Trade War that Could Drag out the Fight Indefinitely

As Trump Ponders Auto Tariffs, Free-Trade Republicans Push Back

And the DC People – were dead wrong.  And they STILL don’t get it.  To wit:

Despite Trump’s Tariff and Border Threats, Mexico Is Now the Largest U.S. Trading Partner

Not “DESPITE Trump’s tariffs” – “BECAUSE OF Trump’s tariffs.”  Trump put pressure on Mexico – and Mexico buckled.

It’s happening – all over the world.

Trump Tells EU’s Juncker He Seeks ‘Reciprocal’ Trade

No Deal: EU Resists Trump’s Zero-Tariff Trade Offer, Prepares New List of Sanctions to Add Pressure

Except less than seventy-two hours after that latter headline….

Trump and EU Officials Agree to Work Toward ‘Zero Tariff’ Deal

It’s almost like – no, it’s exactly like – Trump was right all along.

And despite Trump’s tariffs – oh wait…BECAUSE OF Trump’s tariffs – how’s our economy doing?

U.S. Economy Grows 3.2% in the First Quarter, Well Above Estimates

“Well above estimates?”  Oh look – the DC People were wrong AGAIN.  Shocker.

Just as we globally trade just about every other commodity – we globally trade food.

And just as we have with every other commodity and their manufacturers – we have allowed the rest of the planet to screw our farmers…and the rest of us.  To wit:

Tiny Thailand’s 2016 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $407 billion.  Tiny Thailand subsidies sugar – just sugar – at $1.3 billion per year.  Which has ably assisted tiny Thailand – to cheat its way controlling 10% of the global market.

That’s nothing.  Bigger Brazil’s 2016 GDP was $1.8 trillion.  Bigger Brazil subsidizes sugar – just sugar – between $2.5 and $4 billion per annum.  Which has ably assisted bigger Brazil – to cheat its way to controlling almost 50% of the global market.

More than one hundred countries sell sugar on the global market.  Two countries – control 60% of that market.  Because they government-money-cheated their way to the top.

We import sugar.  Which means we are importing the government-money-poison Brazil and Thailand are injecting.

Which is obscenely unfair to our farmers.

Brazil’s subsidies – allow them to charge 20% less for their crop.  Thailand’s subsidies – allow them to charge about 10% less for their crop.

Which is obscenely unfair to our farmers.

Thankfully, Trump is also looking to straighten out the farm market.  To wit:

Trump Looks for End to Japan Farm Tariffs Ahead of Two Visits:

“President Donald Trump urged Japan to end tariffs on U.S. farm products when he met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe….

“‘We’ll be discussing very strongly agriculture because as the prime minister knows Japan puts very massive tariffs on agriculture, our agriculture, for many years, going into Japan, and we want to get rid of those tariffs,’ Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Abe on Friday.”

Trump REALLY needs to have a sugar talk with Brazil’s new president.  Methinks he might find him receptive.

Conservative Jair Bolsonaro Elected President of Brazil

Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s Firebrand Leader Dubbed the Trump of the Tropics

The Great Brazilian Foreign Policy Realignment:

“If Jair Bolsonaro continues to push for privatization in infrastructure and a drastic reduction in red tape, then foreign investment will likely follow.”

And actual free trade will follow as well.

For sugar – and everything else.

Which would be a whole lot fairer for manufacturers – food and all others – everywhere.

Most importantly – here in the US.

Most importantly – because #AmericaFirst.

The post Manufacturing is Back – Now We Need a Food Manufacturing Restoration appeared first on RedState.

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