Tag: Donald Trump

Trump’s Budget Assault on the Environment Packs a Wallop

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Originally published at The Progressive on March 17, 2017

Donald Trump’s first budget makes his antipathy to the environment clear—and his love for fossil fuels and nuclear power even clearer.

In addition to slashing funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, he also announced this week that he wants massive rollbacks in automotive fuel efficiency standards and billions in new investments in nuclear weapons and storage for commercial nuclear waste.

The administration’s budget cuts $2.4 billion from the EPA’s operating funds—roughly 31 percent—taking the agency’s annual budget from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion, the smallest since it was formed in 1970. These cuts will cripple regulation of air and water quality, strip oversight of a wide range of land management programs, and loosen restrictions on chemical emissions from industrial facilities.

Much of this money would be shifted directly over to the military, which the Trump Administration wants to bolster with an additional $54 billion over the final Obama allocations.

As Wenona Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, the cuts would lower staff to about 11,800, in an agency that employed 17,000 in 2010 and, according to the Washington Post, about 15,000 today.“We should be clear that 90 percent of EPA programs are run by state agencies,” Hauter says.“Half that staff is located in regional offices.

The cuts, says Hauter, would cripple the states’ ability to protect clean air and water across the country.

Following through on his campaign promise to reduce the EPA to “little tidbits,” Trump’s budget defunds more than 50 programs. These include infrastructure improvement on Indian reservations, major projects to clean up Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, a wide range of renewable energy development and energy efficiency programs, numerous climate change research programs, national heritage sites, environmental justice programs, oceanographic research and preservation, and much more. Gina McCarthy, a former EPA official under Obama,described it as “a scorched earth budget that represents an all-out assault on clean air, water and land.”

Some of the immediate opposition has crossed party lines. Ohio’s recently re-elected Republican Senator Rob Portman, a close associate of former President George W. Bush, strongly opposed cuts to the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Bill Becker of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies warned, “if such cuts are realized, many more people will die prematurely and get sick unnecessarily due to air, water and waste pollution.”

Among the programs affected will be popular Energy Star campaigns that set efficiency standards for household and other appliances. The program is well-established and popular among large manufacturers seeking marketing tools in a highly competitive global business. “It’s alarming and bewildering to see the Trump Administration propose cuts to critical government programs that support clean energy innovation, helped create thousands of new jobs, and saved Americans millions on their utility bills,” says Amit Ronen, Director of George Washington University’s Solar Institute.

Scott Sklar, head of the Stella Group, a D.C.-based environmental consulting firm, and chair of the steering committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition adds that the EPA cuts come in tandem with assaults on programs at the Department of Energy critical to advances in LED light bulbs, advanced batteries, electric trucks, biofuels and other cutting-edge green power projects. Overall, says Sklar, the cuts could cripple some seventeen national laboratories whose innovative technical work spans the horizon from windmills and solar panels to advanced batteries and accelerated efficiency.

In addition, says Ronen, “Trump and his cronies can fundamentally change how EPA does its job by rolling back carbon and air regulations and not enforcing current law.”

A deadly dose of that medicine is now being  administered in Detroit, where Trump has moved to slash motor vehicle efficiency requirements and emissions standards.

At the behest of auto company executives, Trump is exploiting a legal loophole in Obama-era requirements to gut fleet fuel-economy capabilities. Complaining about technical challenges, the industry may soon slouch back to lower emissions standards feeding higher short-term profits. Detroit will once again race to the bottom in a global transportation industry increasingly dominated by Germany, China, and Japan.

The trends are being further exploited with shifts at the state as well as federal levels to slash tax breaks and incentives for electric cars and solar panels. Guided by handouts from the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel empire, “free market” legislators in states like Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona have partnered with the American Legislative Exchange Council to impose debilitating taxes and regulatory barriers against electric cars, green power production, advanced efficiency, mass transit and more. The trend has been underscored by Trump’s quick approval of the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, and relaxed rules governing fracking on public lands.

Meanwhile, Illinois and New York are moving toward massive subsidies for uncompetitive, dangerously dilapidated old nuclear reactors in a marketplace where renewables are coming in far cheaper and creating thousands more jobs. In Ohio and other states, owners of money-losing reactors are advocating for massive handouts to block cheaper, job-creating renewables and efficiency from getting into the marketplace.

Adding insult to injury, Trump wants to add $120 million to the long-dead Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. Despite fierce local opposition, the Department of Energy has blown some $13.5 billion since 2002 digging a giant tunnel through the dormant volcano eighty miles outside Las Vegas to store radioactive waste. Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, got President Obama to cancel Yucca in 2011. Yucca could ultimately cost more than $90 billion by some estimates, and take decades.  A $2 billion 2014 explosion shut America’s sole state-of-the-art radioactive-waste repository, at Carlsbad, New Mexico, casting a long shadow over underground burial.

Losers Win, Winners Lose

Bob Fritakis and Harvey Wasserman on the seriously flawed US voting and electoral college system and the outcome of the 2016 election.

The FreePress,org reporting team that Jesse Jackson dubbed the Woodward and Bernstein of Election Protection comment on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and why the American election system needs a total overhaul from top to bottom.

Here’s a transcript of Harvey Wasserman’s opening remarks:

Harvey Wasserman: At this point in time Hillary Clinton seems to be leading Donald Trump by 200,000 votes – nation wide.

This would be – if that’s the case, this would be the sixth time in United States history where the person who lost the popular vote won the election. And so all the media is filled with how Trump won – I couldn’t even find the popular vote count on the front page of the New York Times – They’re all talking about the electoral college.

Nobody’s talking about the fact that apparently Hillary Clinton won the election.

And this has got to stop. This is what happened in 2000. It happened four times in the eighteen hundreds. And this is the death of the democracy here.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft (www.freepress.org /www.solartopia.org) and six other books on election protection.For more info: FreePress,org

Will GOP Swing State Governors Strip & Flip Donald Trump into the White House?

By Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
24 July 16

flip de vote

As the Democratic Convention opens in Philadelphia, there’s just one one clear message that matters from the Republicans: Donald Trump will be within ten points of Hillary Clinton in the fall election.
Thus, unless the Democrats do something about the issue of election protection, it will be within the power of key GOP swing state governors to give Donald Trump the presidency.

For all its problems, the wildly disorganized and fractious gathering in Cleveland all boiled down to Trump’s final speech. It was rambling and often incoherent. But it delivered the classic strongman message: You need ME to protect you.

Given the chaos, violence, and injustice of imperial America in 2016, that message is almost certain to sell with enough Americans to keep Trump close enough to Hillary Clinton to allow the election to be electronically stripped and flipped.

In 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama was able to overcome these barriers with a huge popular margin in more states than the GOP could reasonably steal.

This year, in a close election, given how the mechanics of our election system operate, the decision of who will enter the White House will be in the hands of the GOP governors of such swing states as Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona.

Those will be the only six votes that really count in November. Should all or most of these governors (with their GOP Secretaries of State) flip the vote count for Trump, he likely has a lock on the White House.

Two major “strip and flip” forces can doom the Democrats in 2016.

First, the GOP stripping of millions of suspected Democrats from the voter roles is proceeding. As Greg Palast reports in his brilliant new film, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy – a Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits,” computer programs coordinated by Kris Kobach, Kansas’s GOP secretary of state, are being used to disenfranchise millions of mostly African-American, Hispanic and young citizens.

As exposed by Palast, the stripping technique entered the computer age in 2000, when Florida governor Jeb Bush dropped more than 90,000 blacks and Hispanics from the registration rolls in an election ultimately decided by 537 votes.

In 2004 the Ohio GOP stripped more than 300,000 inner city voters in an election decided by 118,775 officially, though more than 90,000 votes still remain uncounted.

Palast shows that in 2016, the Democratic constituency will be electronically stripped of millions of voters in at least two dozen key states, easily enough to make the difference in a close election.

But if that isn’t enough to put Trump in the White House, the final count can be flipped with computerized “adjustments” made in the dark hours of election night.

In both Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, electronic manipulation put and kept George W. Bush in the White House.

In 2016, well over half the votes will be cast on electronic voting machines. Most of these are ten years old or more. All can be easily manipulated by their owners, which are private corporations, primarily Warren Buffett’s ES&S.

The courts have ruled that the software on these machines is proprietary. So there is no effective public monitoring or accountability of the tallying process. At the end of election day, if they are in agreement with each other, the governor and secretary of state can make the vote count pretty much whatever they want.

In a close election, the six key swing states electronically available to the GOP are likely to comprise more than enough votes to swing the Electoral College. The question is: will their governors give those electoral votes to Trump?

Florida’s governor is the far-right Rick Scott. After 2000, Florida reformed the secretary of state position used by Katherine Harris to help Jeb Bush put George W. Bush in the White House. But the governor’s power over the vote count remains potentially decisive. Florida also has a key Senate race involving Marco Rubio, which gives the GOP an added incentive

North Carolina has also made adjustments to its vote count system, and has a Democratic secretary of state. But its disenfranchisement measures are legendary and could be decisive.

Michigan, Iowa and Arizona could all be strip-and-flip locks for the GOP.

So as always, Ohio may be the key. Governor John Kasich has made very clear his disdain for Donald Trump. But the US Senate race pits his good friend Rob Portman against the former Democratic governor Ted Strickland. Kasich may be willing to throw Trump under the bus. But he and his secretary of state, Jon Husted, will be strongly committed to sending Portman back to the Senate.

Thus they won’t want the unlikely discrepancy of a GOP Senate victory alongside a GOP presidential loss.

Whatever the case, no matter how many hundreds of millions are spent on this campaign, no matter how many thousands of hours the bloviators blab about this issue or that, when push comes to shove, this election will be decided on election night by the swing state governors and secretaries of state who have their hands on the electronic vote count.

Thus, no matter what happens in Philadelphia, the smart money would be on Donald Trump entering the White House in January 2017.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft is at www.freepress.org, along with The Fitrakis Files. Harvey’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of US History can be found at www.solartopia.org.  

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