On today's BradCast, a heads up for just one of the newest, horrible, deadly things the Trump Administration is hoping to pull off on behalf of toxic corporate polluters, even as we're all distracted by impeachment of the President. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
In addition to a top of show teaser for our 1000th Green News Report at the end of the show, we kick off with a quick news roundup. Among the stories covered...
- 95-year old former President Jimmy Carter is said to be recuperating after surgery to drain pressure on his brain following a number of recent falls;
- The Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court, surprisingly, allowed a lawsuit to proceed against gun manufacturer Remington, as brought by families of victims killed with one of the company's AR-15-style weapons in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. The case alleges Remington's marketing was unlawful under CT law, and the plaintiffs have successfully argued that a 2015 federal law which bans most lawsuits against gun makers should not apply in this instance. SCOTUS appears to have agreed. If the complaint is ultimately successful in finding Remington violated the law, it may open up new avenues for additional suits against gun manufacturers and dealers by victims of gun violence;
- Less surprising news from the GOP's stolen SCOTUS today comes from those in attendance at the Court for oral argument on Tuesday in a case which could strike down President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Court watchers suggest that questions from five Justices auger that the Republican appointees are prepared to allow the Trump Administration to end the program meant to offer protection from deportation for more than 700,000 [PDF] children of immigrants (so-called "Dreamers") brought here by their parents at a very young age;
- On the eve of public hearings for only the 4th Impeachment inquiry in U.S. history, Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) released details on procedures for the hearings beginning on Wednesday, while an 18-page Republican talking points memo, detailing how they plan to oppose charges against the President, was obtained and published by CNN.
But, while the nation's attention is understandably focused on impeachment, the Trump Administration is continuing its non-stop corruption of federal Government power in favor of corporate industry interests. A draft proposal for a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (and coal lobbyist) Andrew Wheeler, as obtained by the New York Times, reveals the EPA's latest attempt to undermine scientific research in favor of toxic industry pollution of air and water and more.
The new rule, if approved, picks up where one introduced by disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt left off. The original iteration of the rule was met with a tidal wave of opposition in some 600,000 public comments, almost all opposing the scheme. Nonetheless, Wheeler not only ignored those comments, but has now broadened the new proposed rule so that it might actually be applied not only to new regulations from the EPA, but also to existing regulations as well.
In effect, as our guest today, DR. ANDREW ROSENBERG, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, warns, the new rule, if adopted, would "devastate public health and environmental protections".
The long sought-after rule would deny the use of scientific studies for the basis of EPA regulations, if the raw, underlying data of such studies are not fully released. That means, for example, that private medical information of those who participated in various health studies under confidentiality agreements would have to have their names and medical records exposed, or the studies cannot be used as a basis for federal rule-making. Industry groups, of course, favor the new rule, which they and Trump's EPA are selling as "scientific transparency". Scientists and health care providers, however, are strongly opposed, charging, as Rosenberg does, that the scheme will undermine public health protections and "would put the entire enterprise of developing science-based public health safeguards at risk."
The policy, he explains, upends decades of well-established scientific norms, as well as federal rule-making procedures, and is precisely what the chemical and fossil fuel industries, in particular, have been pushing for for years.
"This isn't about transparency. This is about restricting the ability of the government to do the job that we want them to do --- that is, to protect public health and safety," Rosenberg tells me. "There's absolutely no scientific basis for doing this. One of the ways that you can tell that --- it's not just my word for it --- they put no justification in the rule. They didn't even identify what problem they're trying to solve. There's no analysis of what the impacts of putting this rule in place would do. There's not even an analysis of how much it would cost the agency. But, more importantly, [there's] absolutely not a single word on how it would impact the agency's ability to put public health protections in place. So there is no merit to this proposal at all."
Nonetheless, Rosenberg cautions, even if the public makes noise about this, given Wheeler simply ignoring the response to the Pruitt version of the same rule, it will likely be implemented. But, he notes, it will almost certainly be challenged in court, at which time public comments against the new rule will become very important. As Desi Doyen notes at the end of today's interview, some 200,000 Americans die each year prematurely due to pollution which will only be made worse under this new rule.
And, speaking of Desi, yup, finally, it's our 1000th Green News Report! In which we look both forward and back (to our first GNR in February of 2009), hear from a few old friends, and share what we believe is the funniest "snarky comment" in 1000 episodes over nearly 11 years of the GNR. All of it, by the way, made possible not by industry or political support, but by you, our listeners via BradBlog.com/Donate. Thank you!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)