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Hooray: "New EPA administrator: ‘Science is back’"


Michael Regan has bold aspirations, and a long to-do list, as President Biden’s newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

He wants to hasten the nation’s shift to cleaner forms of energy, make transformational investments in communities battered by decades of pollution, and improve air and water quality around the country. But to accomplish any of that, the 44-year-old administrator said Monday, he must first help the EPA get its groove back.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, starting with rebuilding the staff morale and getting all of our staff back to feeling as if they matter, their voices matter,” Regan said in his first interview after being sworn in last week. “We really have to restore the scientific integrity and the utilization of data, of facts, as we move forward and make some very important decisions.”

Just days into his tenure, the former North Carolina environmental official has embraced a simple mantra as he faces the daunting task of translating Biden’s promises into actual policies.

“Science is back at EPA,” he said.

Congress kept the EPA’s budget largely stable during recent years, despite attempts by President Donald Trump to make deep cuts. Even so, a Washington Post analysis showed that during the first 18 months of the Trump administration, nearly 1,600 workers left the EPA, while fewer than 400 were hired. That exodus shrank the agency’s workforce to 14,172, a level not seen since the Reagan administration.

After being sworn in, Regan wrote a memo to EPA career staffers calling their work the “heart” of any economic recovery under Biden. Regan himself was once a career EPA employee, working there for more than a decade under both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations before returning to North Carolina as southeast regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group.

On Monday, Regan said he wouldn’t rule out the return of experts who fled the EPA as part of a hiring push under Biden.

“I’m under the assumption that there are a lot of people that walked out of EPA that would be extremely qualified for some of the positions we’ve advertised, and we welcome their return if they meet the criteria,” he said. “But that doesn’t exclude new and young scientists and engineers and data analysts and lawyers who have been longing to join a credible agency.”

Regan, who last week easily won confirmation by the Senate in a 66-to-34 vote, declined to offer specifics about which policies the EPA will pursue in the coming months. But he made clear that the agency already is beginning to revisit some of the Trump administration’s most consequential regulatory rollbacks.

Regan vowed to use the agency's considerable authority to tackle climate change on multiple fronts.

He said the agency will take another look at the Trump administration’s rollback of tailpipe emissions rules for new cars and trucks, as well as his predecessors’ efforts to revoke California’s long-standing authority to set its own fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles. That waiver had been granted under the Clean Air Act by previous administrations.

“I’m definitely a fan of statutory authority, and states’ rights and autonomy,” Regan said, adding, “The transportation sector is very important in our greenhouse gas goals.”

Regan said a federal court’s recent decision to vacate the Trump administration’s replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan gives his team a “clean slate” to regulate the climate-warming pollution that results from burning coal and gas for electricity.

The Trump administration also maintained air quality standards for ozone and other pollutants that are less stringent than what many experts have recommended to protect public health. Regan said he is open to toughening those standards.

“We’re taking a look at how we enhance some decisions that we believe are not as protective as we think they should be,” he said.

Regan also indicated he will look closely at a ubiquitous class of chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, found in communities nationwide and linked to an array of health effects.

Last month, the EPA yanked from its website a toxicity assessment of one of these so-called forever chemicals, which persist for years in the environment. Regan said the study was “compromised by political interference.”

“That's just one example of many decisions that were made by the previous administration that weren't guided by the scientific evidence nor the recommendations made by our career staff,” he added.

He also said his staff is evaluating the agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic under Trump. Former EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler temporarily waived some enforcement last spring, citing practical constraints during shutdowns.

Regan said the agency’s ability to permit regulated industries to stop monitoring hazardous emissions during emergencies ought to be used “sparingly.”

“It’s not as if it’s a blank check,” he said.

Regan returns to Washington with a reputation for seeking buy-in from all sides of environmental disputes, including industry. But Republicans are increasingly agitated with Biden’s climate plan, arguing that curtailing oil and gas drilling and pipeline construction will kill jobs. Some Republican attorneys general have already warned they will challenge actions they see as “unauthorized and unlawful” in court.

“Let me be very clear, I really liked meeting and getting to know Michael Regan,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said last week before voting against Regan’s confirmation. “He is a dedicated public servant and an honest man.”

“But this vote is not based on what Mr. Regan might do if he had his say,” she added. “This vote is about confirming someone to execute President Biden's agenda, which Mr. Regan said he would faithfully do. And I cannot support that agenda.”

Climate scientists, meanwhile, warn the United States and other countries have precious little time to deeply cut greenhouse gas emissions to forestall catastrophic, irreversible levels of global warming.

Even as he embarks on his new, high-profile role, Regan already has in mind how he would like his tenure to play out.

“I hope that EPA will be remembered in four years for righting the ship and really making significant strides on lowering the emissions from greenhouse gases, protecting our water quality, doing it in a way where we’re creating lots of jobs in a fair and equitable manner,” he said.

“If we can right this ship and start to achieve those goals and do it in a way with a rising tide for all communities in this country, I think we’ll be off to a good start.”


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I’ve been tasked with editing all the web pages in my department to change all Trump’s political appointees and add the word ‘Former’. It is a huge job but I don’t care. Hell I’d work over time for fr

I love how Pete trolls the former guy!

If people think this coup is over, I hope they ask themselves how many bosses immediately seat new employees in their last week.  

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I was talking to a friend who used to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the DOI. She retired early because she couldn't stand working for Ryan Zinke. She told me she wishes she was back at work now with Deb coming on the job.


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33 minutes ago, GreyhoundFan said:

I was talking to a friend who used to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the DOI. She retired early because she couldn't stand working for Ryan Zinke. She told me she wishes she was back at work now with Deb coming on the job.


It's so lovely to see that she's wearing traditional dress for her swearing in!

By the way, maybe the department is going to rehire a lot of people who left during the Trump era, like they are planning to do at the EPA. If so, and providing she wants to, your friend might reapply and her wish could come true.

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3 hours ago, fraurosena said:

By the way, maybe the department is going to rehire a lot of people who left during the Trump era, like they are planning to do at the EPA. If so, and providing she wants to, your friend might reapply and her wish could come true.

She moved all the way to Arizona and doesn't want to move back to DC, so it's not going to happen.

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"EPA dismisses dozens of key science advisers picked under Trump"


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan will purge more than 40 outside experts appointed by President Donald Trump from two key advisory panels, a move he says will help restore the role of science at the agency and reduce the heavy influence of industry over environmental regulations.

The unusual decision, announced Wednesday, will sweep away outside researchers picked under the previous administration whose expert advice helped the agency craft regulations related to air pollution, fracking and other issues.

Critics say that under Trump, membership of the two panels — the EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) — tilted too heavily toward regulated industries and their positions sometimes contradicted scientific consensus.

"Science is back," new EPA administrator says

The Biden administration said the move is one of several to reestablish scientific integrity across the federal government after what it characterizes as a concerted effort under the previous president to sideline or interfere with research on climate change, the novel coronavirus and other issues.

“Resetting these two scientific advisory committees will ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight to support our work to protect human health and the environment,” Regan said in a statement.

Environmental advocates cheered the decision, saying that remaking the composition of the panels is necessary after the Trump administration illegally barred academics who received EPA grants from serving on them.

Under Trump, the EPA had argued scientists who received research funding from the agency would not be able to offer impartial advice. But environmental and public health advocates, along with some former career officials within the agency, said the policy effectively elevated experts from industry while muzzling independent scientists.

The Trump administration ended up rescinding the restriction on grant recipients after being ordered to do so last year by a federal court. But it didn’t change any of its appointments after the ruling.

“It’s absolutely warranted,” Christopher Zarba, a retired EPA employee who directed the office that coordinates with scientific committees, said of the newly announced shake-up. “Lots and lots of the best people were excluded from being considered.”

He added that none of the people picked by Trump’s EPA chiefs, Scott Pruitt and Andrew Wheeler, were individually unqualified to serve. “However, the mix of people did not accurately represent mainstream science,” he said.

For example, Louis Anthony “Tony” Cox, who was tapped by Pruitt in 2017 to lead the advisory panel on air pollution, is a consultant who has worked for several government agencies but also for the oil, chemical and health-care industries.

Cox dismissed the EPA’s methods for tabulating the public health benefits of smog regulations as “unreliable, logically unsound, and inappropriate.” His position distressed many air pollution scientists, and two published a paper in the journal Science that warned Cox was trying to undo “the time-tested and scientifically backed” process that resulted in important public health protections.

The EPA is calling for new applications for the two panels. Nick Conger, an EPA spokesman, said advisers dropped from the committees are “eligible and encouraged to reapply” if they choose. Normally, the agency would have asked for new applications for a handful of the positions in October.

The action Wednesday is one of several steps Regan says is necessary to rebuild the scientific integrity of the EPA and restore staff morale.

Regan recently, for instance, revived an EPA webpage on climate change deleted during Trump’s first weeks in office. And In a memo to staff last week, Regan said the agency is reviewing policies that impeded science and is encouraging career employees to “bring any items of concern” to the attention of scientific integrity officials as they review Trump-era actions.

“When politics drives science rather than science informing policy,” Regan wrote to staff, “we are more likely to make policy choices that sacrifice the health of the most vulnerable among us.”

On the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, Trump-picked members advised the EPA to keep the standards for ozone at the current level, even as public-health experts outside the agency argued they should be tightened to help protect poor and minority communities. The agency followed the committee’s advice and declined to issue stricter standards for the smog-forming pollutant, which has been linked to asthma and lung disease.

The clean air panel, meanwhile, was split on whether to recommend tougher rules for particulate matter, another pollutant emitted by power plants and cars. The agency ultimately decided last year against ratcheting up the rules, even as evidence accumulated that soot raised the risk of dying of covid-19.

In an interview earlier this month, Regan suggested the agency may revisit those decisions for acceptable pollution levels. “We want to take a close look at ozone. We want to take a look at all the NAAQS [National Ambient Air Quality Standards] that we believe are questionable.”

Genna Reed, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a research and advocacy group, said reconstituting the panel will aid in any reassessment of air quality standards.

“It only makes sense for the agency to go back to the drawing board,” she said.


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I love how Pete trolls the former guy!


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People from the fuck face administration are starting to be held accountable.


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The former guy government: Corruptus in Extremus


Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources when he and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for their personal benefit more than 100 times, a government watchdog has determined. 

POLITICO obtained a copy of the report on the Pompeos, which was put together by the State Department’s inspector general’s office. 

The report has been long awaited in Washington, where Pompeo is seen as a potential 2024 Republican presidential contender. The investigation into his and his wife’s actions came to light last year after Pompeo engineered the firing of Steve Linick, then the inspector general of the State Department.

By digging through emails and other documents and interviewing staff members, investigators uncovered scores of instances in which Mike or Susan Pompeo asked State Department staffers to handle tasks of a personal nature, from booking salon appointments and private dinner reservations to picking up their dog and arranging tours for the Pompeos’ political allies. Employees told investigators that they viewed the requests from Susan Pompeo, who was not on the federal payroll, as being backed by the secretary.


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He fit right in with the former guy: "Now we know what Pompeo’s ‘swagger’ at the State Department was really about"


SECRETARY OF STATE Mike Pompeo adopted the term “swagger” to describe the department’s style under his leadership. It was a curious approach to diplomacy, and it led to some notable disasters, including the alienation of the United States from its closest allies on the U.N. Security Council. Now it emerges that Mr. Pompeo’s swagger extended to his personal affairs: An inspector general’s investigation found more than 100 instances where the secretary or his wife ordered staff to carry out errands or conduct their private business.

As Mr. Pompeo and wife, Susan, apparently saw it, no task was too small to be delegated to U.S. government employees: depositing and picking up the dog from boarding; making hair appointments; delivering flowers to friends; preparing their Christmas cards. Staff also were used to save the family money. One was ordered to use discretionary funds to buy gold nut bowls as gifts for people who hosted private dinners for the Pompeos, while another arranged a hotel discount for their son when he joined them at a U.S. Military Academy football game. When he was asked about it, Mr. Pompeo allowed that “as a general matter, he likes to ‘pay less’ for things if he can.”

The secretary breezily — or maybe, swaggeringly — told the inspector general that there was nothing wrong with all this because it took up little of his staff’s time and was done by them out of friendship. But the political appointee who did most of the work reported that she saw it as part of her duties — particularly as the assignments came to her in emails sent to her department account. As for time spent, according to the inspector general, two staffers, including a senior Foreign Service officer, reported to Foggy Bottom on a weekend to prepare the Christmas cards, while the political aide “spent time over three months” arranging a visit to Washington, D.C., by a Kansas political group that had supported Mr. Pompeo when he was a member of Congress.

That, in the end, is what “swagger” was really about: advancing Mr. Pompeo’s personal political career. As he considered a run for senator in Kansas, as well as a possible 2024 presidential candidacy, Mr. Pompeo used the secretary of state’s platform and resources to nurture his political profile and connections. He staged a series of closed private dinners at the department with business leaders and conservative figures, spending at least $43,000, including more than $10,000 for embossed pens handed out as favors. He devoted his official Twitter account to boasts about his accomplishments.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pompeo devastated State’s staffing and morale. Hundreds of career officers resigned during his tenure, and surveys showed a sevenfold increase in the percentage of employees “who felt they could not disclose a suspected violation of law, rule and regulation without fear of reprisal.” No wonder: Mr. Pompeo induced President Donald Trump to fire the inspector general who first opened an investigation of his abuses, Steven Linick. Mr. Pompeo claimed he did not know of the probe at the time and that he ousted Mr. Linick because he was not “performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to.” Now we know exactly what it means to “perform” for Mr. Pompeo.


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In contrast to the self-enriching "swagger" of Pompous Pompeo, Deb Haaland is trying to help vulnerable people: "Violence against Indigenous women is ‘a crisis.’ Deb Haaland’s new Missing & Murdered Unit could help, advocates say."


Growing up in Canada, Agnes Woodward, who’s Plains Cree and originally from Kawacatoose First Nation, always knew that her family cared deeply about missing and murdered Indigenous women. In the 1990s, she watched as her aunt Mona and a few others began trying to draw attention to the lacking police response when Indigenous women went missing: They would hold up images of missing friends on street corners. In 1992, they organized the first march in Vancouver in memory of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW).

Then, in 2015, the Canadian government approached Woodward’s family to ask if they wanted to add her aunt, Eleanor (Laney) Ewenin, to the list it was compiling as part of its National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The entire family gathered to talk over the decision and concluded that “if we step up and we tell our story” and it helps any other families, “then it’s our responsibility to do so,” Woodward recalled. Her mother, uncle and aunts had been taken from their parents in Canada’s so-called Sixties Scoop, a period that lasted into the 1980s during which the Canadian government removed Indigenous children from their parents’ care and placed them with foster families. Laney had been separated from the other children, and in 1982, when she was just 23, she was killed.

Woodward, now 38, became a seamstress and began designing ribbon skirts in honor of her aunt and other missing women, eventually creating the company ReeCreations in 2018. Her ribbon skirts quickly became a continentwide symbol of the MMIW movement.

Those ribbon skirts have also recently made headlines. On March 18, when Deb Haaland made history as the first Native American sworn in as U.S. interior secretary, she wore a bright blue ribbon skirt — sewn by Woodward herself. Two weeks later, Haaland announced the formation of a new Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The MMU will leverage federal resources to support investigations into unsolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people, while also working on active investigations and gathering data about the crisis, according to the Interior Department. The unit builds upon a presidential task force known as Operation Lady Justice that was established by the Trump administration in 2019, but which some advocates say failed to adequately consult with tribal communities.

Organizers such as Woodward celebrated the opening of the Missing & Murdered Unit, noting that an Indigenous official was able to announce in two weeks what they have been demanding for decades. But she also cautioned that the design of the unit will determine its success. Advocates have called for resources to be directed not only toward investigations, but also toward prevention and healing, emphasizing that tribal consultations will be key to the initiative’s work.

“We know that we belong here. We know we belong in every aspect of decision-making,” Woodward said. “It’s not reconciliation, but it’s a step in that direction.”

In the United States, homicide is the third-leading cause of death among Native American women. They are also murdered at a rate as high as 10 times the national average, according to the Justice Department. The National Crime Information Center includes 1,500 American Indian and Alaska Native missing persons, but according to the Urban Indian Health Institute, most cases go unreported. When information on missing persons is collected, law enforcement often omits or misclassifies racial data — making it difficult to assess the true extent of the violence, according to advocates.

“Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades. Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian Country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated,” Haaland said in a news release about the MMU.

Tribes have no jurisdiction over missing and murdered cases because they are classified as major crimes. Annita Lucchesi (Cheyenne), executive director of the Sovereign Bodies Institute, said that’s a problem: Other countries are consulted when their citizens are murdered on U.S. soil, and that should be the case when it comes to tribal nations, she said.

“The U.S. government and the Canadian government have treaty obligations by international law to provide the resources that they promised they would to tribal nations, whether that be for education, health care or to address violence and crime,” she said.

Addressing those data gaps and supporting ongoing investigations is one of the first steps the MMU can take, according to advocates.

“What we need to be moving forward with is having database systems that can talk to each other, are interoperable, and that tribal nations can get access to,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), director of the Urban Indian Health Institute.

Echo-Hawk noted that a key gap in resources she has seen in government intervention is prevention services.

“We have to have a focus on prevention, which means decreasing risk factors for sexual assault, domestic violence, all of the things that increase whether or not a person would go missing, murdered or be trafficked,” she said. “We have to go upstream and stop the violence, not just treat the symptom.”

Based on forthcoming research that Echo-Hawk conducted with 122 Indigenous survivors of sexual assault, more than 90 percent of survivors specifically want culturally grounded intervention and healing services. But developing those services is difficult because many Indigenous communities are deeply impoverished, according to Echo-Hawk.

“We consistently hear that families are lacking resources and not just the resources to find their loved one or to close a murder case, [but also] the mental health resources, the financial resources, the housing resources, all of the things that affect a family when a loved one goes missing and murdered,” she continued.

Advocates have urged that the MMU consult closely with tribal nations — a step they say its predecessor, Operation Lady Justice, failed to do. Representatives for the Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.

As Haaland’s Missing & Murdered Unit launches, Lucchesi and Echo-Hawk agreed that they’re cautiously optimistic — but that it will be important for advocates to hold the unit accountable to their goals. Plus, Lucchesi noted, there will be deep-seated skepticism to overcome: She said the vast majority of the hundreds of families she’s worked with have had “really negative experiences” with law enforcement.

“I don’t have a lot of faith in that system and its ability to be salvaged into something useful for our people,” she said. “What I argue for is restoration and recognition of tribal sovereignty.”

Justice for missing and murdered Indigenous people’s families is ultimately an ongoing conversation, advocates say.

Woodward, for one, said she “can tell you in so many ways what injustice feels like. But what does justice look like or feel like? I don’t know.”

That the answer remains unclear means that more work is necessary, according to Woodward: We have to “keep pushing for that, until we figure out what that means to us,” she said. “Until the families who have experienced injustice after injustice feel that they are getting what they’re searching for.”


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This is quite scary. "..the threat of domestic violent extremism within the Department of Homeland Security."

The fact that they are launching an internal review is a sign that they believe this threat actually exists... 


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