Rick Scott’s Dirty Drilling Deal With Donald

Five days after releasing an extreme plan to expose all of America’s coasts to offshore drilling, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rushed to Florida to meet with Gov. Rick Scott, who, under political pressure, flip-flopped to publicly oppose the Interior Department’s drilling plan. Apparently without even making Zinke leave the airport, Scott “convinced” him to remove Florida from the leasing plan entirely—a message Zinke promptly delivered via tweet.

The tweet unleashed an immediate, national backlash from the many governors, other elected officials and communities who have long opposed expanded offshore drilling. Their reaction underscored that the Trump administration’s Florida decision was little more than a political gift to Rick Scott. Of the 15 coastal governors to blast Interior’s drilling plan, Scott is the only one with a long history as a Trump supporter, and the only one who is said to be preparing for a run for the United States Senate. Indeed, President Trump is personally pushing him to do so.

File:Gulf of Mexico oil spill seen from space.jpg

Oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 and ruining coastal communities in the Gulf. (Photo: European Space Agency)

An arbitrary carve-out for Florida to benefit the potential Senate campaign of a staunch supporter? This is political cronyism at its worst.  It’s also a smoke-and-mirrors ploy that still leaves Florida’s vibrant coastal economies—and all of us—exposed to the oil spills and carbon pollution that is part and parcel of offshore drilling. If Trump’s offshore drilling plans are actualized and drilling is expanded in the Central Gulf of Mexico and into the Southern Atlantic, no amount of political pandering would keep Florida safe.  After all, oil spills don’t recognize state boundaries, nor does air pollution or the impacts of climate change.

That is why offshore drilling is broadly unpopular, and the response to this latest proposed oil drilling leasing plan makes perfectly clear that nobody wants oilrigs off their beaches.

Elected officials who truly care about protecting their coastal communities and preserving their coastal economies ought to stand together—and with millions of concerned citizens—against the Trump administration’s proposal. They’re passionate, they’re bipartisan, and they’re powerful, and together, they can defend our coasts. Here are some of the numerous statements they’ve made in opposition to drilling:

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper
As Governor, I’m here to speak out and take action against it. I can sum it up in four words: not off our coast…In Washington, D.C., deregulation is a top priority. That means fewer safeguards for the environment and ultimately offshore drilling. It’s simply not worth it.”

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster
Our tourism industry and our glorious natural resources…are beyond compare in the United States. They are the source of enormous economic growth and prosperity and we can not take a chance with those resources, those industries, and the economy. It’s just too important.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo
The President is endangering the health of nearly all coastal waters in our country, including our 400 miles of coastline in Rhode Island, so that rich oil companies can get richer…We’ve taken action over the past few years to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in alternative energy sources… Now is the time for Rhode Islanders to make their voices heard and tell President Trump to protect our waters.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
“President Trump’s move to allow new offshore oil and gas drilling on nearly all previously off-limit coastal waters represents yet another federal assault on our environment and our future. Instead of taking action to confront climate change and safeguard our natural resources, the administration is abdicating its responsibility to protect our future.”

Delaware Governor John Carney
Drilling for oil and gas in the Atlantic off Delaware’s coast would create the risk of a catastrophic spill or other related disasters that would not only threaten our natural resources, but pose serious threats to Delaware’s economy…We also have an obligation to take steps to confront climate change, and this takes us in the wrong direction.”

Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam
A commitment to preserving the health of Virginia’s coastline has fueled the growth of the New Virginia Economy—today’s announcement puts the progress we’ve made at risk.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, California Governor Jerry Brown, and Oregon Governor Kate Brown joint statement
This political decision to open the magnificent and beautiful Pacific Coast waters to oil and gas drilling flies in the face of decades of strong opposition on the part of Washington, Oregon and California – from Republicans and Democrats alike.

They’ve chosen to forget the utter devastation of past offshore oil spills to wildlife and to the fishing, recreation and tourism industries in our states. They’ve chosen to ignore the science that tells us our climate is changing and we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But we won’t forget history or ignore science.

For more than 30 years, our shared coastline has been protected from further federal drilling and we’ll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, short-sighted action.”

Here is some of the immediate outrage expressed by Senators and Members of Congress:

37 United States Senators, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King (ME), Senator Bill Nelson (FL), Senator Bob Menendez (NJ), Senator Maggie Hassan (NH), Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ), Congressman Jared Huffman (CA), Congressman Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (CA), Congressman Vern Buchanan (FL), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN)Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Congressman Lacy Clay (MO), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME), Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL), Congressman David Price (NC), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Congressman Brendan Boyle (PA), Congressman Rick Larson (WA), and more.

If you were paying attention to that list, you’ll notice that a couple of the officials who’ve made statements aren’t in coastal areas. They’re speaking out for good reason. The waters Trump’s Interior Department is attempting to auction off for drilling are publicly owned. They belong to each of us and are held by the federal government in trust to advance the national interest.

If Trump’s plans are carried out, Americans from Myrtle Beach to Bozeman will be harmed. All will have their natural heritage degraded, and most will face the effects of exacerbated climate change. We will all remain shackled to the fossil fuels of the past.

It is time for all of us to stand together and demand that Trump stop treating our oceans like his private playground, protecting his buddies’ political futures and his private beach clubs, while trashing the rest of the country.

To take action, urge Ryan Zinke and your elected officials to join the dozens of governors, senators, and millions of Americans in opposing expanded offshore drilling.

The tax cut bill is an environmental catastrophe. How did your senators vote?

The U.S. Senate has approved a huge giveaway to fossil fuel companies and other polluters to fund a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. The tax cut bill opens the pristine Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, threatens the federal government’s ability to protect clean air and clean water, dramatically increases the deficit, and actually raises taxes for some Americans. The U.S. House of Representatives also passed this terrible bill, so it’s headed to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

Now we need to show lawmakers that we’re watching them and holding them accountable for this legislation. See how your senators voted below. If your lawmaker(s) voted YES, let them know you’re outraged that they sided with big polluters and billionaires over the environment and health of the American people; and if your lawmaker(s) voted NO, thank them for standing up for their constituents and our planet.

Thank these senators for opposing the Tax Cut Bill:

Joe Donnelly (D-IN)

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Gary Peters (D-MI)

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Angus King (D-ME)

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Michael Bennet (D-CO)

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)

Thomas R. Carper (D-DE)

Bob Casey (D-PA)

Chris Coons (D-DE)

Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

Tammy Duckworth D-IL)

Richard J. Durbin (D-IL)

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Al Franken (D-MN)

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Kamala Harris (D-CA)

Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI)

Tim Kaine (D-VA)

Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT)

Joe Manchin III (D-WV)

Edward J. Markey (D-MA)

Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT)

Patty Murray (D-WA)

Jack Reed (D-RI)

Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Jon Tester (D-MT)

Tom Udall (D-NM)

Chris Van Hollen (D-MD

Mark Warner (D-VA)

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Bernie Sanders (D-VT)

 

Hold these senators accountable for voting for the Tax Cut Bill:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

John Barrasso (R-WY)

John Boozman (R-AR)

Richard M. Burr (R-NC)

Thad Cochran (R-MS)

Bob Corker (R-TN)

John Cornyn (R-TX)

Steve Daines (R-MT)

Michael B. Enzi (R-WY)

Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Charles E. Grassley (R-IA)

Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT)

James M. Inhofe (R-OK)

Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

Ron Johnson (R-WI)

James Lankford (R-OK)

John McCain (R-AZ)

Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Rand Paul (R-KY)

David Perdue (R-GA)

Rob Portman (R-OH)

Pat Roberts (R-KS)

Michael Rounds (R-SD)

Tim Scott (R-SC)

Richard C. Shelby (R-AL)

Luther Strange (R-AL)

John Thune (R-SD)

Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Patrick J. Toomey (R-PA)

Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Todd Young (R-IN)

Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

Tom Cotton (R-AR)

Michael D. Crapo (R-ID)

Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Cory Gardner (R-CO)

Dean Heller (R-NV)

John Hoeven (R-ND)

Mike Lee (R-UT)

Jerry Moran (R-KS)

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Jim Risch (R-ID)

Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Ben Sasse (R-NE)

Dan Sullivan (R-AK)

Susan Collins (R-ME)

Deb Fischer (R-NE)

John Kennedy (R-LA)

 

Tell Congress: Stop the Arctic Giveaway

Republican leaders in Congress are trying to open our pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to catastrophic oil drilling — the worst threat to the Arctic Refuge in decades. They’re using a huge tax cut bill to allow drilling on the refuge’s coastal plain. Billionaires and wealthy corporations get a massive tax cut windfall, and the rest of us pay for it by selling off our pristine public lands to oil companies?

It’s time to stand up and tell Congress to stop this travesty. That’s why the NRDC Action Fund is launching new TV and digital ads to amplify the voices of Americans who want our wild lands to stay wild.

Oil drilling is destructive and dirty; it has no place on public lands specifically designated as a refuge for threatened wildlife such as polar bears.

Call your congressional representatives now and tell them to vote against tax cuts for billionaires and wealthy corporations that the rest of us have to pay for. Tell them to stop reckless oil drilling in one of America’s most beautiful and pristine places.

Watch our ad here.

Voters Rewrite 2018 Political Playbook

This year’s decisive election results remind us that voters, not pundits or political operatives, will decide what we can accomplish in America. Voters yesterday proved we are paying attention, we are outraged and we will put a stop to the Trump administration’s attacks on our health and environment.

The Trump administration was counting on our complacency. The professional political class expected it. But voters in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere have them all rewriting their playbooks today.

We’ll get tired of resisting, they must think. Cynical corporate polluters assume Americans won’t notice when the president nominates a coal lobbyist to help run the EPA. They’re betting parents won’t figure out the Trump administration is trying to weaken common-sense safeguards that keep our children’s air and water safe. We’re just too busy to keep up with Big Oil’s takeover of our government, and if we start to catch on the president can always distract us with outrageous tweets, right?

Wrong.

The government isn’t Donald Trump’s, it’s ours. We’ll decide when it stops reflecting our values, and then we’ll change it.

Kevin S. Curtis is executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.

Virginia’s Golden Opportunity to Lead

Virginia’s Rappahannock River at sunrise.

On Tuesday, Virginians have an opportunity to reject the Trump administration’s reckless and destructive environmental agenda. Showing up to vote has rarely, if ever, been more important.

Reversing the damage caused by the Trump administration’s unraveling of common-sense health and environmental safeguards won’t be easy, but doing so is urgent and essential to protecting Americans’ quality of life.

Since January, President Trump and his congressional allies have declared war on our health and environment. Trump has abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement, rescinded the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, ditched fuel efficiency upgrades in cars and trucks, allowed more toxic chemicals in our food, water and consumer products, and moved to expose our most treasured publicly owned lands to exploitation by dirty energy corporations.

For Virginians, this could mean more air and water pollution. More bad air quality days. More childhood asthma attacks. More risk for coastal communities. And fewer opportunities to lead the country into the clean energy economy of the 21st century.

But here’s the good news for Virginians: their leaders have a plan. Thanks to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s (D) actions to defy President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, Virginia could become a major player in the fight against carbon pollution and climate change.

And with that investment comes economic opportunity for Virginia, unlocking the potential for growth that clean energy brings. Solar energy jobs in Virginia grew 65% last year, and that growth will only continue now that Virginia has a forward-thinking plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Virginia voters have the chance to build on this new progress and choose a governor who will reject President Trump’s agenda and prioritize their health, safety and future—Democrat Ralph Northam. The alternative, Republican Ed Gillespie, casts doubt on the causes of climate change and supports Trump’s plan to weaken environmental enforcement, all to benefit polluting corporations’ bottom lines at the expense of our kids’ health.

Virginia voters should seize this golden opportunity to lead the nation to a safer and more prosperous future.

Kevin S. Curtis is the executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.