Inside Trump's EPA, a Hotbed of Resistance

This week's investigative reporting, analysis and environmental news.
The Revelator

No. 102, Oct. 17, 2019

Hello Revelator readers,

How has the Trump administration changed the lives of people doing the hard work at the Environmental Protection Agency? In an exclusive interview, union president Nicole Cantello tells us it's "the most devastating change that has ever been wrought on EPA." But despite having to reduce enforcement of environmental crimes and tightening restrictions against whistleblowers, she also calls the EPA "a hotbed of resistance."

The acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, self-styled "Sagebrush Rebel" William Perry Pendley, went on a press tour last week to try to rehabilitate his ethically challenged image (and drum up support for his plan to reduce federal control of public lands). Let's just say his arguments fall a little flat.

Are these the last days of the vaquita? Fewer than 20 of these critically endangered porpoises remain, and now Mexico faces a tight deadline to improve efforts to prevent their extinction. If it fails the country could face tough international sanctions. Mexico has already started to make some renewed efforts, but now an old threat has reemerged.

This summer's record-breaking heat and wildfires in Alaska brought a lot of media attention to the state, but there's a bigger picture here: Rapid warming in Alaska remains among the most troubling disruptions of the global climate, and it affects the entire planet.

Subscriber bonus: The Wild 5

Let's go a little deeper. Here are five additional stories that we're watching this week.

1. The Trump administration moved to allow logging on more than half of the 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest in Alaska — the largest temperate rainforest in North America.

2. Most freshwater mussel species in North America are already in trouble, but now scientists are investigating a mysterious affliction that's causing mass die-offs in the Southeast.

3. Which communities get the most aid from federal programs designed to help buy people out of disaster-prone areas? New research found that (shocker) it's disproportionately wealthy counties.

4. The U.S. government doesn't have a good accounting of the country's "green economy," but a comprehensive independent analysis just pegged it at $1.31 trillion in annual revenue.

5. Here's an idea that works: An Iowa program helps farmers plant strips of native prairie on farmland to increase water quality, build soil health, reduce erosion and provide habitat.

In case you missed it:

Using birds to help get rid of pests is more effective than poisons — and less expensive. Yes, it's raptors to the rescue.

What should we cover next?

Our stories rely on insight from experts and readers around the world, so we always welcome your ideas and inside scoops. Drop us a line anytime.

Coming up:

Why should you care about a flea that may go extinct? Our next expert essay makes the case for caring.

We have a whole lot more in the works, so look for our latest links in next week's newsletter — or follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the headlines as they go live. We share other news there, too, so please join us and keep the discussion going.

As always, thank you for reading.

John Platt

John Platt
Editor, The Revelator


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