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Friday, June 22, 2018

Read this and weep.

In Trump’s crosshairs – the agency that watchdogs chemical safety

fun wow GIF by Black Rifle Coffee CompanyThe U.S. Chemical Safety Board is in the business of making sure we learn from disasters. 

They found the regulatory and management failures that killed 15 firefighters in the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. The Trump Administration has let the CSB wither, and has recommended that it disappear entirely.

The tiny agency's budget is $12 million -- barely more than the cost of three weekend jaunts from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Another oversight body, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), tried to weigh in on another Trump initiative -- the proposed intervention to aid failing coal and nuclear power plants by compelling coal and nuke power sales to the grid. 


The Administration cited "national security" concerns for such a move, but testifying before Congress this week, FERC commissioners said no such concerns exist.

But just in case we do need more uranium, there's this: An effort afoot to end a moratorium on uranium mining on land adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park. 

Citing possible risks to Colorado River water quality and to sacred sites, in 2012 the Obama Administration barred new mine leases in the area for 20 years.

And national security is also a premise for Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), who wants to roll back the environmental review process on extracting strategic metals like uranium. 

One of the major beneficiaries of such a move would be the mining giant Energy Fuels Resources, which holds mining claims near the canyon rim. As luck would have it, EF is owned by our new nemeses to the north: Canada.

One of the greatest bi-partisan advances in ocean protection could also fall in coming years. Both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush set aside massive areas as marine reserves. 

Trump and Zinke have targeted the Pacific Remote Islands Marine Monument for reduction in both size and scope. Centered around Johnston Atoll, 1,000 miles west of Hawaii, the Monument is nearly twice the size of Texas. 

Its ban on commercial fishing, including rapacious longline boats, may be revoked soon. Marine reserves are the saltwater equivalents of National Parks -- literally their 21st Century equals.

All from a President who has declared journalists, and our Fake News, to be America's biggest enemies. And all of the above without mentioning the relentless and picayune scandals of EPA's Scott Pruitt.