Yesterday, the Trump administration proposed the largest, most radical expansion of offshore drilling in history. Breaking with past presidential administrations of both parties, the proposal would open more than 90% of U.S. oceans to oil drilling, including vast areas off the Atlantic, Florida and California whose cherished coasts have been protected from new drilling on a bipartisan basis for decades. At the same time, the administration is aggressively working to overturn existing safety standards and environmental protections that guard against oil spills. And because oil spills are an inevitable consequence of drilling, the plan would expose these areas to accidents that could devastate natural habitats, ecosystems, and local businesses that rely on clean, healthy coasts. For example, if an oil spill the size of the Deepwater Horizon spill happened off the coast of North Carolina, nearly 350,000 jobs and $35 billion in revenue would be at risk.
While the move has Big Oil executives smiling, most coastal communities are shocked and angry. Hundreds of local governments from coast to coast have passed formal resolutions opposing new offshore oil development to protect their economies and citizens. And they have a surprising partner in this fight. More than a dozen Republican members of Congress and four Republican governors from coastal states have voiced their opposition to this new plan, citing the environmental and business risks posed by new drilling. Even Florida Governor Rick Scott released a statement criticizing the plan, and requested a meeting with Interior Secretary Zinke to “remove Florida from consideration.”
But don’t expect to get much sympathy from the Trump administration, which has demonstrated an overtly hostile attitude towards the environment. Just last month, President Trump eliminated protections for more than 2 million acres of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, despite massive resistance from Native American tribes and an overwhelming majority of the American public. Now, it’s clear that they will be sold out to reap profits for corporations, as “speculators will be able to stake a claim to mine for uranium, potash, and any other mineral that they believe can be extracted from the monuments.” With Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA Administration Scott Pruitt, it’s no surprise that corporate profits are being prioritized over the environment.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#DreamActNow. Since the Trump Administration ended DACA in September 2017, over 14,000 young people have lost crucial protections, and 122 Dreamers are losing their legal protection every day. Watch and share this new video series called “American DREAMing.” Then, call key members of Congress today using DreamActToolkit.org, and demand a vote on the Dream Act by January 19th. Remember: Another delay by Congress is another vote to fund deportations.
Pleading with Sessions. Last night, developing news put Attorney General Sessions in the headlines—but this time, it had nothing to do with policy changes he’s proposing. Instead, a new report by The New York Times indicates that Don McGahn, the top White House lawyer, was sent by President Trump to Sessions to urge him not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. And additional information puts an even brighter spotlight on Sessions, as it was uncovered that one of his aides “asked a congressional staff member whether he had damaging information about Mr. Comey, part of an apparent effort to undermine the F.B.I. director.” As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation heats up, it’s more important than ever that members of Congress draw a red line against political interference in the Mueller investigation.
Free Speech at Risk. Today, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” is now available on your local bookstore’s shelves, much to Trump’s dismay. Earlier in the week, one of the President’s attorneys called on the author and publisher of the book to stop publication, due to its negative portrayal of Trump. The lawyer also threatened Bannon, saying he was defaming the President. According to legal experts and historians, “the decision by a sitting president to threaten ‘imminent’ legal action against a publishing house, a journalist and a former aide represented a remarkable break with recent precedent and could have a chilling effect on free-speech rights.” If someone cannot publish anything negative about the president, then do we really have the freedom of speech? It’s become a trend for Trump to attack the First Amendment, from calling free speech “disgusting” to accusing the press of being the “enemy of the American people.”
Delayed. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has released a notice saying it will delay a “requirement that communities analyze their housing segregation and submit plans to reverse it, as a condition of receiving billions of federal dollars in block grants and housing aid” until 2020. The requirement was enacted under the Obama administration in an attempt to alleviate racial segregation in housing. The move is just another example of the Trump administration weakening federal standards that are crucial for protecting civil rights and eliminating barriers for people of color—and of course, undoing Obama’s legacy.
UNDER THE RADAR
ACA Sabotage. The Trump administration is continuing its sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this time by proposing a rule that would encourage the development of substandard plans for small businesses and self-employed people. The move drew backlash from health care providers and experts, who warned that such plans could refuse coverage for basic health care needs and defraud consumers. Additionally, the plans would try to get healthy people to leave the ACA marketplace by offering skimpy plans at lower prices, leaving those with pre-existing conditions adn serious health needs with much higher costs and potentially fewer choices. Just after signing a tax bill that will result in 13 million fewer Americans with health care coverage, Trump seems intent on undermining the ACA—even at Americans’ expense.