Tag Archives: environmental protection

Texas Catastrophe Points to Need to Prioritize Climate Action, Re-Prioritize Federal Budget (Mother Nature Can Be A Real Bitch)

The climate catastrophe in Texas should be a wake-up call to prod Trump Administration, Scott Pruitt of the EPA and Congress to prioritize climate action, not a border wall, in the federal budget © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

With Harvey reaping its terror and Hurricane Irma warming up for its debut, Texas’ climate catastrophe is the latest example of how tragically foolish it is to invest billions to combat ISIS (hardly an existential threat), $70 billion to build a wall along the Mexico border, $1 trillion to rebuild the nuclear weapons arsenal, yet deny the reality of climate change with the attendant costs in the multi-billions of every single one of these climate catastrophes – the cost to the Treasury and taxpayers to rebuild infrastructure, to pay for public health consequences, to lose the productivity of the workforce.

“This is the costliest and worst natural disaster in American history,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather, stated. “AccuWeather has raised its estimate of the impact to the nation’s gross national produce, or GDP, to $190 billion or a full one percent, which exceeds totals of economic impact of Katrina and Sandy combined. The GDP is $19 trillion currently. Business leaders and the Federal Reserve, major banks, insurance companies, etc. should begin to factor in the negative impact this catastrophe will have on business, corporate earnings and employment. The disaster is just beginning in certain areas. Parts of Houston, the United States’ fourth largest city will be uninhabitable for weeks and possibly months due to water damage, mold, disease-ridden water and all that will follow this 1,000-year flood.”

Meanwhile, around the globe there are even greater flooding disasters –1,200 have died so far and 900,000 homes destroyed in floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, taking with it farms and crops that will lead to the next climate catastrophe, famine.

Now Congress will soon take up a budget that proposes to slash the EPA into nothing (Scott Pruitt has already scrubbed any research and mention of climate change from the website and is doing his level best to stop any data collection), cuts to FEMA that was already $25 billion in debt before Harvey, cuts to Health & Human Services and every other social safety net. But Trump threatens to shut down government if he doesn’t get nearly $2 billion (a downpayment on $70 billion) for his border wall with Mexico.

Dozens of Long Islanders, constituents of Congressman Peter King turned out for a rally at his Massapequa office to demand he reject cuts to the EPA budget.

Which has posed more of a national security threat to Americans? Climate disasters or ISIS? The wrong-headed approach to national security came to a head with a rally that drew about 60 people on short notice on Thursday, August 31 at the Massapequa, Long Island office of Congressman Peter King, who makes a great show of concern for protecting national security but drops the ball on the national security implications of climate change.  (See story)

You only have to compare the horrid waste of blood and treasure because of a disdain for addressing the realities of climate change to the results of the efforts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) consisting of New York State along with eight other Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states (not New Jersey because Governor Chris Christie thought it would better position him to become the GOP presidential candidate if he withdrew from RGGI and denied the reality of climate change). Founded in 2005, the RGGI, the nation’s first program to use an innovative market-based mechanism to cap and cost-effectively reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change, is updating its goal to lower carbon pollution by reducing the cap on power plant emissions an additional 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. With this change, the regional cap in 2030 will be 65% below the 2009 starting level.

RGGI has already contributed to a 50% percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from affected power plants in New York, and a 90% reduction in coal-fired power generation in the state. To date, New York has generated more than $1 billion in RGGI proceeds, which are applied to fund energy efficiency, clean energy and emission reduction programs.

RGGI continues to exceed expectations and has provided more than $2 billion in regional economic benefits and $5.7 billion in public health benefits while reducing emissions in excess of the declining cap’s requirements. Analysis by Abt Associates – found participating member states had 16,000 avoided respiratory illnesses, as many as 390 avoided heart attacks, and 300 to 830 avoided deaths by reducing pollution. The health benefits in New York alone are estimated to have exceeded $1.7 billion in avoided costs and other economic benefits.

And contrary to the lie that clean, renewable energy and sustainable development will hurt the economy and increase consumer costs, the economies of RGGI states are outpacing the rest of the country and regional electricity prices have fallen even as prices in other states have increased. So even as the RGGI states reduced their carbon emissions by 16% more than other states, they are experiencing 3.6% more in economic growth. Each of the three-year control periods contributed approximately 4,500 job years to New York’s economy and 14,000 to 16,000 job years region-wide.

Meanwhile, New York consumers who have participated in RGGI-supported projects through December 2016 will realize $3.7 billion in cumulative energy bill savings over the lifetime of the projects, according to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

New York is actively promoting clean energy innovation through its Reforming the Energy Vision strategy and initiatives. Additionally, programs including the Clean Energy Fund, $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative, $1 billion NY Green Bank, $40 million NY-Prize competition for community microgrids, and others, ensure that progress toward reducing emissions will be accelerated.

New York has devised a host of programs to incentivize local projects aimed at developing clean, renewable energy and sustainability. Most recently, NYSERDA has developed a Solar PILOT Toolkit to assist municipalities in negotiating payment-in-lieu-of taxes (PILOT) agreements for solar projects larger than 1 MW, including community solar projects.

How ironic is the climate catastrophe in Texas, the leading proponent of fossil fuels and opponent of programs incentivizing the transition to clean, renewable energy (and the localized independence that wind, solar and geothermal bring), that Harvey has damaged its oil refining infrastructure, which is already resulting in higher gas prices, not to mention taxpayer money that will be channeled to rebuild the devastation. None of those private, profit-making companies which have gouged and inflicted public health horrors should get funding from taxpayers.

Now Texas will be coming to Congress for billions in aid.

Congress should pass a law: no federal help for states that deny climate change (Florida and North Carolina actually have legislation banning the use of the term) and therefore do nothing to mitigate the consequences, and which deny altogether the concept of a federal, “one nation” government to collect taxes and provide services on behalf of all. Texas, which has cheered the notion of secession, continually supports policies intended to shrink the federal government to a size it can be flushed down a toilet, including dismantling the Environmental Protection Administration and ending environmental regulations. So let them see what that actually means. Let’s also be reminded the Texas’ Republican delegation obstructed federal aid to New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.

Destruction at Breezy Point, New York after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Texas Congressmen voted against giving aid, now will seek tens of billions to rebuild after Harvey. But the Trump Administration and Congress fail to learn the lessons, reflected in policy and budgeting, that would mitigate such costly climate catastrophes © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Too harsh? The climate deniers are dooming the entire nation and the planet to such tragic, devastating and costly climate catastrophes. Hundreds of thousands of Texans will emerge from Harvey with their homes, retirement, college funds decimated, very possibly their jobs flushed away along with the floodwaters. Tens of thousands will become climate refugees – just a small fraction of the estimated 200 million worldwide who will be forced to flee flooded coasts as sea levels continue to rise, and storms continue to ravage.

But, since Trump is so keen to dish out taxpayer billions to those he considers his base (one wonders what would happen if and when California is hit with an earthquake), Congress should impose conditions on the billions that will be sent to Texas to rebuild its infrastructure and housing: Texas should do what every other community has done that underwent such devastation: rebuild and transition to clean, renewable energy sources and sustainable, climate-friendly, low-carbon emitting structures.

Congress, which Trump just dared to defy on his tax “reform” (that is, giveaway to the wealthiest 1% and corporations while starving federal government of funding), should make sure that EPA has the people and resources it needs, that climate action is a priority, that the Interior Department does not give away Americans’ legacy (and property) for environment-destroying development, that FEMA and Housing & Human Services (now in the command of a man who dismisses poverty and bad things that happen to some dereliction of personal responsibility) are properly funded and staffed.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump Budget is Criminal; Ryan & Republicans are Accomplices

Donald Trump delivers his joint address to Congress, as Mike Pence and Paul Ryan cheer him on. Trump’s 2018 budget may be unbelievably cruel and callous, but it mimics the principles that Ryan and the Republicans have been crusading for © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

It doesn’t matter that Trump’s preposterously named “A New Foundation for American Greatness” budget is “dead on arrival” according to even staunch Republican, Texas Senator John Cornyn. Much of it is the long-time wet dream of Paul Ryan and Republicans whose singular ambition has been to destroy the New Deal, Square Deal, Great Society. They would eliminate the minimum wage, child labor laws, food and product safety, Clean Air & Water protections, Social Security and Medicare and most notably Medicaid, sell off national parks and monuments to mining and oil and gas industrialists. And this is before taking into account tax “reform” that would take $2 trillion out of the national budget to put into the pockets of the wealthiest and corporations, so they have even more extra pocket change to spend on political campaigns.

Indeed, the Trump budget is everything that the Republicans have been dying to do, but didn’t dare. But Trump doesn’t care. He has shown that it really isn’t hard atall to cut the budget when you really don’t care what the numbers represent,when you have no clue and no interest.

The Trump Budget is built on “Trumponomics, as Office of Management and Budget Director Mike Mulvaney proudly exclaimed, “It’s a taxpayer-first budget, going line by line through the budget, trying to put yourself in the shoes of the people who are paying for those lines….What Trumponomics is and what this budget is a part of is an effort to get to sustained 3 percent economic growth in this country again..And by the way, we do not believe that that is something fanciful.”

Indeed, this is a “tough love” approach to force malingerers off things like food stamps – it’s not non-living wages paid by companies pocketing record profits that keep workers below the poverty line that’s the problem.

“Getting people back to work. Create an environment where people more comfortable staying at …We no longer measure compassion by the number of programs or number of people on programs. We measure success by how many get off programs and have success in lives.”

But the figures don’t actually add up.

Economists from across the spectrum say that the math that underlies the main selling point for Trump’s budget, that it will “balance the budget” in 10 years, is a crock. It doesn’t take into account the $1 trillion or so in tax cuts that will go entirely to the wealthiest and to corporations that Trump sketched out; it assumes a 3% rate of annual economic growth, which would mean 50% more economic activity, which everyone says is beyond pie-in-the-sky; and it actually double-counts $2 trillion, prompting headlines like this one from Slate, “Donald Trump’s budget is based on a hilarious accounting fraud” and “The dumb accounting error at the heart of Trump’s budget “ from Vox.

Health care a right, not a privilege? Trump’s budget projects a 28.3% DROP in spending for health services, $2 trillion less spending, over a 10-year period – despite the aging and increase in population. This includes a 27% decrease in spending for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (imagine another Ebola, Zika or Swine Flu outbreak); 25% drop in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (even as Trumpcare will no longer include mental health or addiction), 25% less spending for research and training, including 25% cut for the National Institutes of Health (no interest in finding therapies or cures for Zika,  Alzheimers or “orphan” diseases that wouldn’t be profitable enough for Big Pharma); 40% cut for the Food & Drug Administration (let Big Pharma do what they will); 15% drop in food safety and inspection; 17% cut to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 16% cut in already strapped Occupation and Mine Safety and Health spending even as he overturned regulations.

$1.4 trillion gap in infrastructure spending to repair decaying roads, bridges airports? Trump would cut Transportation spending by 25% cut (65% cut to National Infrastructure Investments; 50% cut to air transportation which is already woefully in need of upgrades); 28% cut to Education, Training, Employment and Social Services.

His cuts to environmental protection – on top of slashing regulations that give communities a fighting chance to protect their air, water and public health – amount to Hague Tribunal level of war criminality for what he will do to the planet, let alone our communities. The allocation is cut 27.1% – $132 billion worth – including a 34% cut in Pollution control and abatement, 42% cut in Regulatory, enforcement and research programs, 37% cut in Hazardous substance superfund ($330 million less in 2018).

Trump would end funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts—“saving” over $100 million in 2018. He cuts out $129 million in funding for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement. He cuts out $233 million in 2018 for the EPA’s Research & Development (ie. climate change science). It eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, $347 million worth in 2018; and ends funding for specific regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay, amounting to $427 million in 2018.

Trump would cut General Science, Space & Technology spending by 14.7%, including 18.9% cut to General Science and basic research.

International Affairs would be cut nearly in half, including 26% cut in spending for Global Health programs; 74% cut in Refugee programs; 66% percent cut in International Disaster Assistance, 83% cut in “other” development and humanitarian assistance.”

(See the New York Times, “How Trump’s Budget Would Affect Every Part of Government”).

Setting aside for a moment that Trump and his billionaire friends don’t actually pay their fare share of taxes, nor do many profitable American companies which have stashed $2 trillion in offshore accounts, the Republicans’ approach is what Hillary Clinton correctly observed, “trickle down economics on steroids.” It didn’t work with Reagan or George W. Bush. And this is even worse.

No matter: the extremity of Trump’s proposed budget, the callousness of it, will give cover to Ryan and the House Republicans and make anything they do seem “moderate”, even “compassionate.” So they cut Medicaid by $600 billion instead of $866 billion and call it a “win” for the little people; they cut the State Department by 20% instead of 30% and pat themselves on the head; they cut the EPA by 25% instead of 31%.

 

Here’s what Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) wrote: “Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says that Donald Trump’s new budget is ‘right on the target.’ That’s all you need to know about just how devastating Trump’s budget will be for working families in Massachusetts and across this country.

“It’s obscene:

  • $5 billion in cuts to public education
  • $73 billion in cuts to Social Security
  • $191 billion in cuts to food stamps
  • $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid (and that’s in addition to the $880 billion the House Republicans are slashing in their so-called “health care” bill)

“Those are just a few of the highlights. What else gets cut? Money for children’s health care, money to combat the opioid epidemic, money for medical research, money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and so much more.

“This budget is ‘right on the target’ only if the target is to sucker-punch kids, seniors, the poor and the sick. If the Republicans make good on this budget, they could deliver the final blow to America’s working families.

We don’t build a future by ripping health care away from tens of millions of people. We don’t build a future by starving education, by letting our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, and by shutting down the big pipeline of medical and scientific research in this country.

“We build a future by making the investments in ourselves and all of our people – so the next kid can get ahead, and the kid after that, and the kid after that. We’ve done this before in our country, and we can do it again.

”Budgets aren’t just about dollars and cents. Budgets are about our values, and this budget is morally bankrupt,” Warren wrote.

Trump and the Republicans would cut out all the things that have “made America great,” and a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, not to mention the main tools for spreading democracy and human rights across the globe (through capitalist investment, which is what China and Russia are now doing).

This is the midst of an actually strong economy, near “full employment” and as we keep hearing, a record stock market.

The Trump budget is the essence of everything that Trump is doing to weaken the US as an economic power, a world power, and its ability to be a moral leader, that Reaganesque “beacon on a hill” of political righteousness.

As we marked Memorial Day this past weekend, a New York Times book review of “The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost,” by Cathal J. Nolan, pointed out that “Generally, one side, usually the one with a smaller economy and population, becomes exhausted, and gives up. Talk about élan and audacity all you like, he counsels, but what wins wars is demography and economic strength.” That is to say, winning a war is more a matter of “hearts and minds” vs. “bombs and brigades” as we have been seeing in America’s longest wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Everything that Trump has done so far (putting aside the fact that he is an illegitimate occupier of the Oval Office by selling out to an adversary government), will weaken the US as an economic power, a world power, and its ability to be a moral leader, that Reaganesque “beacon on a hill” of political righteousness.

Indeed, Trump, who cozied up to the Saudis while hectoring NATO allies and the G7, on his “epic” overseas trip, came back declaring “a home run”, while Germany’s Angela Merkel told Europe,  “We can no longer depend on the US or UK. We are on our own.”

New York State, along with other “blue” states like California, already send way more income tax money to Washington than we get back while the “red” states, which so pride themselves in low state taxes and low wages get far more than they send. Like tenants with a legal fight against their landlord, I would propose that New Yorkers collect their federal income tax money in an escrow account, to pay for services that should be paid by the federal government, such as police and security protection (which Trump is threatening to cut to New York and other states that don’t cooperate in his roundup of undocumented individuals), environmental restoration, health care for those whose subsidies have been eliminated, public schools, infrastructure repair, food stamps and school lunch program.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Ahead of April 29 Peoples Climate March, Groups Condemn Trump’s Executive Order Stripping Protections for Public Lands

Is nothing sacred? Apparently everything is transactional in Trump World. Combined with the tax “reform” which would strip the federal government of trillions of revenue, Trump policies would bankrupt the nation, giving Trumpers an excuse to sell off federal lands for private exploitation. Trump and Republicans want to overturn the Antiquities Act, pushed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to protect Yosemite © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Washington, DC — Ahead of the Peoples Climate March in Washington DC and in hundreds of cities around the country on Saturday, April 29 (Trump’s 100th day occupying the Oval Office), the Trump administration issued an executive order directing the Department of the Interior, led by Ryan Zinke, to review previous monument designations allowed under the 1906 Antiquities Act. According to White House officials, the review could bring “changes or modifications” that could open more public lands to fossil fuel extraction.

Indigenous leaders and climate activists have fought to gain monument designations for lands across the country to protect them from the fossil fuel industry. Areas like the Bears Ears National Monument, a 1.35-million acre area in Utah including sacred Native American lands, could be at risk for losing their protected status. National parks like the Grand Canyon exist because of the Antiquities Act, and any move by the Trump administration to revoke protections of designated monuments will likely face challenges in court.

The public overwhelmingly supports protecting our national parks and monuments and on Saturday, April 29, thousands of people across the country and in Washington, D.C. are expected to join the Peoples Climate March to Trump administration policies like this one and stand up for climate, jobs and justice.

Rhea Suh, President, Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “This is another unjust assault on our climate, environment and national heritage, a hallmark of the president’s first 100 days. These precious lands belong to all Americans.  Our country holds them in trust for the benefit of all Americans, now and in the future.  These monuments—and the resources and wildlife they protect—are worthy of ironclad protection because they are unique, and vulnerable to encroachment and destruction. President Trump should not try to strip away their protection. The tens of thousands gathering Saturday to march for climate action will fight his attempted sellout, and to preserve these iconic public places and the American values they represent.”

Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, said, “We should not be asking which parts of our history and heritage we can eliminate, but instead how we can make our outdoors reflect the full American story. There is no need for a review to demonstrate what families across the country already know first-hand — national monuments provide tangible health, climate, and economic benefits. Indigenous leaders and climate activists have fought to gain monument designations for lands across the country to preserve sacred sites and protect wild places from the fossil fuel industry. Areas like the Bears Ears National Monument, a 1.35-million acre area in Utah including sacred Native American lands, could be at risk for losing their protected status. National parks like the Grand Canyon exist because of the Antiquities Act, and any move by the Trump administration to revoke protections of designated monuments will likely face challenges in court.”

“Donald Trump’s executive action paves the way for the elimination of protections for America’s majestic national parks and places that tell the story of all people in this country at an unprecedented scale,” Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters, said. “We will fight back. America’s parks and natural and cultural heritage should be protected and celebrated, not sold off to special interests. From the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon, our monuments and parks honor our nation’s deep history, recognize our dedication to human and civil rights, and protect our precious lands and waters that fuel America’s thriving outdoor recreation industry. Our nation will hold Trump accountable for putting corporate polluter interests ahead of people.”

Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, UPROSE, said, “The federal administration’s move to undermine the Antiquities Act is a direct attack on everything that the environmental justice movement stands for. From the Grand Canyon to Stonewall Inn, this act preserves those monuments that symbolize our collective natural heritage and houses of culture and struggle. Justice rests at the intersection of these legacies. This move demonstrates yet again that nothing in this administration’s eyes is beyond the reach of fossil fuel interests and destructive market forces. However, this order will do nothing to undermine our commitment to defending the sacredness of our land, protecting the dignity of our people, and fighting for environmental and social justice.”

“The Antiquities Act serves a dual purpose: to preserve our beautiful land for current and future generations to enjoy, but most importantly, to protect land from pollution-creating activities–and ultimately protect vulnerable communities and their health,” stated Adrienne L. Hollis, PhD, JD, Director of Federal Policy, WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We cannot fully measure the importance this act has on protecting the planet and its inhabitants.  To alter this powerful act is another form of desecration and a continuation of efforts to ignore the plight of frontline communities and the environments in which they live, work, play, learn, and pray.”

May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org, said, “So much for being Teddy Roosevelt. Zinke and the Trump administration want to gut the power of the Antiquities Act to shore up the fossil fuel industry. On top of all the attacks on our climate, now we’ll have to defend our parks and monuments from Big Oil as well. On Saturday, thousands of people across the country will be joining the Peoples Climate March to push back on this and other Trump climate assaults. We won’t let this presidency stop us from building toward a renewable energy future that works for all.”

Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, said “Leave it to Trump to take aim at an American tradition and principle that is beloved across political affiliations — our public lands, waters, and monuments.  Trump wants to carve up this country into as many giveaways to the oil and gas industry as possible. But people who cannot afford the membership fee at Mar-a-Lago still want water they can drink, air they can breathe, and beautiful places to go for refuge. Trump is on the verge of jeopardizing true national treasures. We who cherish and rely on public lands and waters will ensure that he will not succeed.”

“Nothing, nothing at all is sacred for this administration except policies that destroy life and wellbeing for people and the planet in order to enrich the wealthy. This Executive Order is intended to promote desecration of some of the most unique and significant places in our country,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith.

For more information on the April 29th Peoples Climate Mobilization, visit peoplesclimate.org
Follow on Twitter @Peoples_Climate and
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/peoplesclimate

See also:

Trump Races to Chalk Up 100-Day ‘Successes’ by Weakening Antiquities Act, Overturning Education Reform, and Unveiling Tax Plan to Benefit Wealthy, Corporations

New Yorkers Among Multitudes in Cities Around the World Marching for Science on Earth Day

Science is Golden. Marchers for Science pass in front of Trump International Hotel, NYC © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Tens of thousands of people in Washington DC and 600 cities around the world on Earth Day, April 22, joined in the first-ever global March for Science, co-organized by the Earth Day Network.

“We’ve just lived through the three hottest years on record, and yet, we continue to see policymakers politicize climate change, roll it back, and ignore it,” stated Kishore Hari, one of the March for Science organizers. “We need to show policymakers that we will not be complacent as they make cuts to life-saving scientific research. That’s why it’s important for us to show up in big numbers and prove that we will not let science be ignored.

“Scientific discovery and innovation are a critical part of our nation and our future — science extends our lives, protects our planet, puts food on our table, contributes to the economy, and allows us to communicate and collaborate with people around the world,” said Caroline Weinberg, National Co-Chair, March for Science. “Despite this fact, science and scientists, and evidence based policies are under attack. Policymakers threaten our present and future by ignoring scientific evidence when crafting policy, threatening scientific advancement through budget cuts, and limiting the public’s knowledge by silencing scientists. On April 22, scientists and science supporters will unite worldwide to protest these actions. Thousands of people in almost 500 cities around the world will march together in support of science’s role in society and policy and to ensure our future.”

March for Science, New York City © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The March for Science is an unprecedented call to action for everyone who knows that science is essential to public health, global and economic security, and the livelihood of communities around the world,” said Christine McEntee, Executive Director & CEO, American Geophysical Union. “This moment is bigger than the scientific community. It is truly an important moment for all people, not just scientists, to make a strong statement in support of policy that is informed by evidence-based science, and to promote the free and open exchange of ideas, innovation and discovery, diversity and inclusion, and to stand up for the people and programs who make it possible.”

Here in New York City, some 20,000 joined the march which extended from Central Park West down to Times Square, with the loudest cheers and jeers recorded as the marchers passed by the Trump International Hotel across from the entrance to Central Park.

“This is what intelligence looks like.” They chanted.

“Hey hey what do you say, let’s all save the EPA.”

Grab ‘em by the Data © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Signs were hand-drawn but heart-felt: “Data, Not Deceit.” “Make America Smart Again.” “Science, Saving Humanity Since 1612.” “Science, not Silence” “Science is like Magic but Real.”

“You Can’t Spell Existence Without Science.”  “A Planet is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”

“Don’t Acid Rain on My Parade.” “More Science. Less Fear.”

Indeed, at the rally that preceded the march, several speakers – including scientists and science teachers – thanked the science community for saving their life.

Some of the public school speakers at the March for Science, New York City © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Several pre-teen girls and boys from the city’s public schools extolled the value of science education, of science that has made America the great innovator in the world, responsible for the Internet, driverless cars and manned spaceflight, and lectured the government officials on the importance of funding education and innovation.

“The progress we have made would not have happened without science,” one said. “Einstein. Tesla. Anything created came from science. Our parents, our doctors use science. Medicine was created by science. Everything is Science.”

“Science is everything that happens in this world” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Lily Beshell, a young girl straining on a crate to reach the microphone, who proudly declared herself to be one of the “black girls who code,” said, “Science is everything that happens in this world – even when you drop a pencil. That may not be so exciting, but if you think how the pencil drops – by gravity. “

Ferdinand, representing the STEM Teachers of NYC and one of 150 marching today, said he is a prostate cancer survivor whose life was saved by science. “Learning how to do science is important for all kids – they gain knowledge and power over their lives. They use evidence, not opinion or heresay or authority, to decide how to think about the world.”

An 18-year old, working in stem cell research at the Centers for Excellence in Youth Education program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said he had developed a passion for mitigating the effect of global climate change, “the greatest threat, and I hope to be part of the solution.

Here, thanks to Science © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Hundreds of years ago, it was believed that evil spirits and bad air caused sickness. Today we now know disease is caused by microbes and we have developed cures.”

Debbie Lee Cohen of Cafeteria Culture – also a cancer survivor – teaches scientific principles through creating things, like the massive puppets built out of toxic, polluting Styrofoam plates that were used to convince the City Council to ban them from school lunches.

Teaching through doing: Debbie Lee Cohen of Cafeteria Culture, has kids create giant puppets out of cafeteria styrofoam to demonstrate public health hazard of environmental pollution © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We need science to show how environmental protection is linked to public health. We need the US EPA to protect our health, NOAA, NASA, we need publicly funded science for basic survival. Climate crises are affecting us, especially kids. Science is fundamental to a healthy democracy, a healthy planet for all.”

Ross Cagen, a professor at Mount Sinai working on next-gen cancer therapies, said, “We are part of the greatest scientific community the world has ever seen. We value knowledge, discovery, facts [rolling cheers through the crowd for “facts”]; use evidence to make basic decisions, we value diversity.

“In a world where standing up for scientific evidence is suddenly a political act, curing disease is losing its standing as a priority…. Let’s march.”

“These are scary times. I feel your anxiety, concerns. As scientists, we never wanted to merge science and politics. But that is happening to us.

“For parents with cancer scared for themselves and their children, science offers hope. The American population lives 30 years longer than years ago because of science…. We need courage to stand against those who would destroy our freedoms.

“In a world where standing up for scientific evidence is suddenly a political act, curing disease is losing its standing as a priority…. Let’s march.”

New York City March for Science organizers: Let the force be with you © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And to the strains of Star Wars, and an invocation, “May the force be with you,” they set off down Broadway.

The New York City march was one of several hundred around the world in a global effort to push back against a political climate that has become increasingly hostile toward sound, evidence-based science and its value to society. The flagship event took place on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Organizers have partnered with over 170 organizations to make an impact throughout the world, including Earth Day Network, American Geophysical Union, National Science Teachers Association, and Carnegie Science. (A full list of partner organizations can be found here.)

“Make America Smart Again” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are thrilled by the outpouring of support from museums, aquaria, scientific societies, NGOs, universities, religious groups and citizen science organizations,” said Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Co-Director of Partnerships, March for Science. “This grassroots movement — with 198 partner organizations (and counting!) — represents a broad, diverse, and inclusive coalition in support of science and evidence-based policy making.”

“An ethical science is meaningful to us all and its role in our communities, our homes and policy making should be protected and celebrated,” said Kristian Aloma, Director, March for Science Chicago. “Chicago is a science city, and we look forward to joining communities throughout the world marching in support of science that can help answer the important questions that affect us all.”

Fact: We Are Made of Stars. Your Science Today. Our Jobs Tomorrow. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Defending science, innovation, and discovery is an absolute must in every community throughout the world,” said Claudio Paganini, Organizer, March for Science Berlin. “We are proud to join each of the marches on April 22 to say in one, unified, global voice that science is essential to our futures.”

More information is at www.marchforscience.com.

Trump Earth Day Message Fails to Mention Climate Change

I’m not a Zoologist but I know that’s a Cheatah © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As if to confirm the protesters’ worst fears, Trump released a statement for Earth Day which did not mention Climate Change, but did emphasize prioritizing the economy over environment.

“Our Nation is blessed with abundant natural resources and awe-inspiring beauty.  Americans are rightly grateful for these God-given gifts and have an obligation to safeguard them for future generations.  My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.

“Real News. Lying President.” New Yorkers March for Science © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Economic growth enhances environmental protection.  We can and must protect our environment without harming America’s working families.  That is why my Administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies, while being mindful that our actions must also protect the environment.

Dump responsibly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Rigorous science is critical to my Administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection.  My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.  As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.

“This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our Nation can come together to give thanks for the land we all love and call home,” Trump’s statement read.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

VP Pence Tells Club for Growth: ‘This is Our Moment’

Vice President Mike Pence at the opulent Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, tells the Club for Growth: “This is our moment.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Except for the cuts to the State Department which has some Republicans howling, the rest of Trump’s “America First” anti-American budget are the things the Conservatives have been fantasizing about but never had the guts to do because of the ramifications. Now they have someone who is putting himself out there who doesn’t bother considering the impacts on ordinary people. 

This is as much Ryan’s budget  as Trump’s, which likely will also enact massive tax cuts, paid for by slashing benefits to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, further  exacerbating the inequality in wealth, political power and justice  in this country that strains the limits to what this Democracy can sustain. 

“This is our moment,” Vice President Mike Pence gleefully told the Club for Growth at the posh Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach. 

Here are highlights from his speech–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

For the first time in a decade, thanks to your hard work, we have a pro-growth House, we have a pro-growth Senate, and we have a pro-growth President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)  And President Donald Trump I believe has laid out an agenda that is renewing the American spirit in ways that we haven’t seen since the days of Ronald Reagan.

This is our moment.  This is the time. And my friends, this is our chance to prove that our answers are still the right answers for America.  (Applause.)

More freedom.  Lower taxes.  Less regulation and smaller government.  History will attest that when America builds on this foundation, we reach heights that once seemed unreachable.

And that is the foundation of this administration.  President Trump’s vision is to unleash growth in America like never before, and the good news is:  It’s already happening.

On Day One, President Trump went straight to work rolling back the reams of red tape.  He instructed every bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before imposing any new red tape on the American people and on American free enterprise.  (Applause.)

He’s already taken action to put the Keystone and Dakota pipelines on the path to approval, creating tens of thousands of American jobs and protecting our American energy future.  (Applause.)

And just this past Monday, President Trump set into motion a plan to reorganize the executive branch — and that includes identifying and eliminating federal agencies that, frankly, we just plain don’t need anymore.

It’s leadership like that — you can applaud that if you like.  (Applause.)   It’s leadership like this that’s getting government out of the way of the American people and of American job creators. 

Businesses are already reacting to President Trump’s vision and his renewed optimism and investment.  And they’re investing in America in ways that are lifting and creating jobs.

Last month alone the economy added 235,000 jobs.  Construction and manufacturing are booming once again.  Business leaders and American consumers haven’t been this confident in years — and by some measures, in more than a decade.

Folks, the era of slow growth is over; a new era of American growth has begun.  (Applause.)

You know and I know that economic growth begins with fiscal responsibility.  I see my friend Senator Pat Toomey over there.  We fought together in the House, shoulder to shoulder for fiscal restraint.  And I know how enthusiastic he and the other great conservatives like Senator Mike Lee and others in the room are that just two days ago, President Donald Trump released the most conservative budget since Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office.  (Applause.)

Our vision is simple.  We want a government that will keep Americans safe and that leaves us free to do what the American people do best.  That’s why our budget first and foremost gives our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources they need to complete their mission, protect our families, and come home safe to theirs.  We’re rebuilding the American military under this Trump budget.  (Applause.)

But also at the President’s direction, our budget offsets $54 billion in military spending with government spending cuts –a 31 percent cut at the E.P.A.  (Applause.)  Double-digit reductions in no fewer than 10 federal departments.  (Applause.)

And, folks, The Washington Post actually ran a headline this week saying, they quote, “historic contraction of the federal workforce.”  (Laughter.)  They meant it as a warning, we took it as a compliment.  (Applause.)

We’re going to end the waste, the fraud, the abuse in D.C and make sure that the American taxpayer gets the best bang for their buck.  I got to tell you this businessman who has become President of the United States believes in sharpened pencils.  And he’s been sharpening his pencils ever since the morning after Election Day.

But beyond the budget, we’re going to keep slashing all the job-killing regulations and rein in unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.  I want to commend the members of Congress for sending those congressional review act bills.  We’re going to keep rolling back regulation every chance we get so that this economy can’t be crippled by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. sitting behind the comfort of their metal desks.  (Applause.)

We’ve heard from businesses large and small, all across America that red tape is strangling their ability to create jobs, and to grow and thrive.  That’s why we’re working to get government off their back.

We’re going to keep working with the Congress to repeal the last-minute mandates rushed through by the last administration.  And, frankly, we’re taking a hard look at every regulation on the books — including, as President Trump said on Wednesday, the CAFE rule that is holding back the American automotive industry will now no longer stand in the way of economic prosperity and growth.  (Applause.)

We’re making sure federal agencies fast-track projects and permits and don’t slow-walk them.  And we’re going to roll back Dodd-Frank so that American businesses have access to the best financial system in the world.  (Applause.)

And with this Cabinet — and how about this Cabinet? (Applause.)   With this Cabinet, President Trump has picked men and women who know that bureaucrats don’t create jobs, businesses do.

The bottom line is that our agenda of more freedom and less regulation is going to usher in growth and opportunity and prosperity in this country like never before.  And it’s the vision that the Club for Growth has been about advancing since the very beginning of this organization.

If you still have any doubt, there’s also something else I want you to know.  We’re going to have the biggest tax reform and reduction in a generation in America before this year is out.  (Applause.)

Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.  It’s going to be pro-growth, pro-savings, and pro-hardworking Americans keeping more of their hard-earned dollar.

We’re going to simplify the tax code working with members of the House and Senate who are gathered here, and we’re going to have lower rates across the board.

We’re going to make American businesses competitive again by slashing one of the highest corporate rates in the developed world and letting American companies bring the money back from overseas so they can invest in American and create American jobs with a lower business rate.  (Applause.)

And not only that, and I promise to you working with members of Congress, we’re going to repeal hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes when we repeal and replace Obamacare.  (Applause.)

My friends, the Obamacare nightmare is about to end.  Now, I don’t have to remind people here at the Club for Growth why this failed law has to go.  You all have seen the headlines, and you know the facts.  You’ve lived them in many places all over the country — skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles, mandates, higher taxes.  The truth is the American people can’t afford Obamacare, and it’s time we no longer ask them to put up with it.  (Applause.)

In his joint address to Congress two weeks ago, the President outlined his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.  And we’re working with members of Congress to advance that plan.

Make no mistake about it:  Our plan is pro-growth and pro-freedom.  It ends Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates by eliminating their penalties by the time the whole plan is unfurled.  It repeals the taxes I just mentioned right out of the gate.  It expands health savings accounts.  It enacts the biggest reform in Medicaid since the creation of that program in 1965.

These are the kind of solutions that conservatives like us have been talking about for years. And they’re now within our reach.  And let me be blunt:  We need your help to get this plan passed.  The House is set to vote next week on the beginning of this process.  It’s called the American Health Care Act, and it is a crucial step towards fulfilling our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that actually works.

Now I know that there have been concerns expressed with the bill as it currently stands.  And just know that the President and I are and our entire administration are listening.   We’re working with members of Congress to improve the bill and to make this bill even better than it already is..

 

And we’re working with every single [Republican] member of Congress — the Republican Study Committee, the Freedom Caucus, the Senate Steering Committee, and all the lawmakers here tonight, just to name a few.   Thanks to their input, we’ve actually added a number of great amendments just in the last 24 hours.

Beginning with, we’re going to stop more states from expanding Medicaid by ceasing the expansion for states that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare immediately.  (Applause.)

Because of the voices of conservatives in Congress, we’re going to be amending the Ho bill to give states the option for a Medicaid in a block grant in its entirety so states can reform Medicaid in the way that they see fit.  (Applause.)

And thanks to the leadership and the collaboration of many of the great conservatives in this room, we’re going to have an amendment to allow states to include a work requirement for able-bodied adults on Medicaid so we can ensure the program is there for people who actually need it. [So if you’ve lost your job, were laid off, your company goes bankrupt, you are doomed.] (Applause.)

Folks, I meant it when I said we’re listening.  And the President is going to continue to engage members of Congress in ways that we can improve this legislation.  We had a meeting just yesterday in the Oval Office, and I was pleased that the leadership of the Republican Study Committee endorsed the bill that’s moving through the House, and we’re grateful for their support.

And while we’re having a vigorous debate, the good news is that Republicans are in complete agreement, and we have complete consensus that Obamacare must go.  (Applause.)

Donald Trump and Mike Pence are only courting right-wing conservatives on policies that impact all Americans’ lives © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’ll continue to advance the President’s agenda, and how we work that out is going to be the result of the legislative process and administrative action.  But President Trump’s vision is very simple:  a national health-care marketplace and state-based Medicaid reform; allowing the American people to purchase health insurance across state lines the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance, and allowing states the freedom and flexibility to redesign Medicaid around the unique needs of their own people is a pathway toward a more prosperous future and better healthcare for the American people.  (Applause.)

And it’s important to remember that our healthcare plan doesn’t begin and end with the bill that’s moving through the Congress today.  I wanted to make it clear to all of you this is only one part of the President’s three-part strategy.  The other two tracks are just as important in restoring free-market principles to American health care.

At this very moment, our administration is evaluating every possible administrative action to get government out of the way and allow for state-based innovation and reform.

The name of the game is to seize the opportunity to change the regulations, and we’ve got a great team with Dr. Tom Price and Seema Verma heading up HHS and the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services to do it.

Just this past week, they both sent a letter to every single one of America’s governors saying, “a new era for federal and state Medicaid partnership” has begun — and so it has.  (Applause.) 

Under Dr. Tom Price’s leadership with Seema Verma at his side running Medicaid, we’re going to give our states the freedom and flexibility they need with Medicaid to implement the kind of reforms that will do the most good for the most vulnerable — state-based solutions, not one-size-fits-all federal solutions.  And remember that truthfully it is about improving Medicaide[sic]….

 

And we’re going to continue to partner with the Congress to pass other important healthcare reforms, including we’re going to pass medical malpractice reform at last.  (Applause.)  We’re going to allow businesses around America to participate in association health plans, and as I mentioned before, we’re going to give Americans the freedom to buy health insurance across state lines — an idea whose time has come.

Not before too long I expect we’re going to see that little lizard and Flo on television selling health insurance just the way they sell car insurance and sell life insurance.  (Laughter and applause.) 

Our three-part strategy, once enacted, we truly believe will create a dynamic national health-insurance marketplace, which is the key to making affordable, high-quality coverage accessible for every American.

Now we can’t lose sight of what’s at stake in the coming weeks. This is a momentous time.  We literally have an opportunity to begin to accomplish what everyone in this room has fought so hard to achieve for so long.  And President Trump and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you — the men and women in public life who are here, and those of you who are patrons and supporters that are present.

And know this:  When we repeal and replace Obamacare, we will also make room for even more tax relief for working families, small businesses, and family farms when we take up tax reform this spring.  (Applause.)

But health care isn’t the only place where we need your partnership.  The same goes for the rest of our pro-growth, pro-freedom agenda. 

Quite frankly, we’re counting on you.  And we know you’ll be there.  You’ve already demonstrated — many of you for many years here at Club for Growth — your dedication to the principles that we all share.  

I look around this room and I see true patriots — men and women who love this country and have been willing to devote your time and your talent and your treasure to the country’s future without any regard to whether you’d ever be acknowledged or ever get credit for it.  Those great candidates that you’ve supported over the years, and that now people the hallways of the House and the Senate serving the American people.  The debt this country owes to the men and women in this organization and throughout the conservative movement can only be repaid by keeping faith with the ideals and the principles that you have sought to advance….

 

The reason that we’re here with a pro-growth President and a pro-growth Congress on the cusp of repealing the failed policies of Obamacare is because, on the cusp of transformational tax reform, on the cusp of a whole range of reforms that will enliven this country’s economy and open doors of opportunities for millions of Americans is that year after year, all of you in this room and conservatives around America never gave up.  And I’m just here to say thanks, and to tell you to press on.

My friends, this is our moment.  Now is the time.  This is our rendezvous with destiny.  And I know we’ll meet the challenge.  It will come together.  We’ll give all of our energy, our enthusiasm, our courage, and our conviction, our passion, and our prayers.  And in that, I’m confident — I’m confident we’ll make the most of the opportunity before us.  And under President Trump’s leadership, I know we’ll get this economy moving again.  Under his leadership, I know we’ll restore opportunity and prosperity for all our people.  We’ll make the best healthcare system in the world even better with free-market principles, more jobs, higher incomes, better healthcare in a safer and more prosperous America.

In a word, my friends, with your help, and with God’s help, we’ll make America great again.  

Thank you very much.  Thanks for having me back and God bless you and God bless the United State of America.   (Applause.)

Shoring Up His Climate Action Legacy, Obama Bans Future Oil Drilling in Atlantic, Arctic Ocean Areas

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

WASHINGTON – President Obama has taken action to ban future mineral extraction from huge sways of offshore areas in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans to protect these ecologically sensitive marine environments from the impacts of any future oil and gas exploration and development.

Obama used a little-known law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the Arctic and a string of canyons in the Atlantic stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia. In addition to a five-year moratorium already in place in the Atlantic, removing the canyons from drilling puts much of the eastern seaboard off limits to oil exploration even if companies develop plans to operate around them.

The announcement by the White House was coordinated with similar steps being taken by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to shield large areas of that nation’s Arctic waters from drilling.

The withdrawal does not restrict other uses of these federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf, and will help to sustain commercial and recreational fisheries in the Atlantic to support fishing-dependent communities, as well as the harvest of marine resources on which many Alaska Native communities rely for subsistence use and cultural traditions.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell applauded President Obama’s announcement saying, “The President’s bold action recognizes the vulnerable marine environments in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, their critical and irreplaceable ecological value, as well as the unique role that commercial fishing and subsistence use plays in the regions’ economies and cultures,” Secretary Jewell said. “The withdrawal will help build the resilience of these vital ecosystems, provide refuges for at-risk species, sustain commercial fisheries and subsistence traditions, and create natural laboratories for scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change.”

The withdrawal areas announced encompass 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast and 115 million acres in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. Including previous presidential withdrawals, the {resident’s action protects nearly 125 million acres in the offshore Arctic from future oil and gas activity.

In the Atlantic, the withdrawal decision protects 31 canyons, extending from Heezen Canyon offshore New England to Norfolk Canyon offshore of the Chesapeake Bay. The largest, Hudson Canyon, reaches depths greater than 10,000 feet, comparable in scale to the Grand Canyon, which is 6,093 feet at its deepest. The canyons are regions of enhanced biodiversity, home to numerous species including deep-water corals, deep-diving beaked whales, commercially valuable fish, and significant numbers of habitat-forming soft and hard corals, sponges and crabs.

The canyon region is home to several fish stocks managed as Highly Migratory Species, including commercially valuable marlin, sailfish, swordfish, tuna and sharks. These geologic features also provide important habitat for a number of protected species including beaked, sperm and sei whales, many of which show an affinity to canyon ecosystems as compared to other Atlantic waters.

The President’s action will preserve critical ecological hot spots, helping to protect habitats important to Atlantic fisheries. The designation also affords long-term opportunity for research and exploration, and helps ensure that species dependent on the canyon habitats are protected. It also builds on protections established by the recent creation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Deep Sea Coral Protection Area. This protected region, created by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Council and approved by NOAA, prohibits bottom trawling in all the canyons in the region.

In addition to numerous requests from local and regional officials to protect these offshore resources, 145 prominent marine scientists issued a public letter in September 2015, voicing their conclusion that the threats to the unique marine environment in this region warranted permanent protection to preserve intact ecosystems. These concerns are informed by a number of research findings, including a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study that found ocean temperatures in the Northeast U.S. Shelf are projected to warm three times faster than the global average and a climate vulnerability assessment on fish and invertebrate species in the region that concluded warming oceans due to climate change threaten the majority of fish species in the area, including salmon, lobster, and scallops. The President’s action builds on his establishment of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which protects 4,913 square miles of marine ecosystems located 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod. The withdrawal protects major Atlantic canyons that are not in the National Monument.

The President’s Arctic withdrawal, which encompasses the entire U.S. Chukchi Sea and significant portions of the U.S. Beaufort Sea, will provide critical protection for these vibrant and fragile offshore ecosystems, which are home to marine mammals and other important ecological resources and marine species on which many Alaska Native communities rely for subsistence and cultural traditions. These include several species of seals; Pacific walrus; polar bears; more than 98 fish species; a number of whale species, such as the bowhead, gray and beluga; many bird species, including waterfowl such as eiders, long-tailed duck and geese; and shorebirds such as the red-necked phalarope.

“Risks associated with oil and gas activity in the remote, harsh and undeveloped Arctic are not worth taking when the nation has ample energy sources near existing infrastructure,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, the Director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “Oil spill response and clean-up raises unique challenges in the Arctic and a spill could have substantial impacts on the region, particularly given the ecosystem fragility and limited available resources to respond to a spill.”

The withdrawal does not affect existing leases in these federal offshore waters and would not affect a nearshore area of the Beaufort Sea, totaling about 2.8 million acres, that has high oil and gas potential and is adjacent to existing state oil and gas activity and infrastructure. While there are significant concerns about oil and gas activity occurring in this area, it will be subject to additional evaluation and study to determine if new leasing could be appropriate at some point in the future. Interior’s five year offshore leasing program for 2017-2022 does not include lease sales in this area or in the withdrawn areas.

The U.S. Arctic Ocean is characterized by harsh environmental conditions, geographic remoteness, and a relative lack of fixed infrastructure and existing oil and gas operations. Despite the substantial steps this Administration has taken to improve the safety of potential Arctic exploration, there would still be significant risks associated with offshore drilling operations and the consequences of an oil spill in this region could be substantially detrimental to the ecosystem.

Climate change-induced temperature increases are occurring fastest in Polar Regions, including the U. S. Arctic, resulting in a disproportionate amount of changes to the Arctic environments, including reduction in seasonal ice cover. Loss of sea ice coverage reduces the available habitat for ice-dependent species such as seals, polar bears, and Pacific walrus. Such conditions and stressors may increase the vulnerability of these species and habitat and reduce their resilience to impacts of oil and gas activities.

The Arctic withdrawals build on past actions the President has taken to protect fragile ecosystems and build resilience in the face of climate change, including the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience AreaChukchi and Beaufort Seas areas placed off limits to oil and gas leasing earlier this year; and the Bristol Bay withdrawal in 2014.

Further scientific analysis related to the President’s withdrawal proclamation is available here for the Arctic and here for the Atlantic.

Maps of the areas related to President’s withdrawal proclamation are available here for the Arctic and here for the Atlantic.