Thursday, December 17, 2020

Last Call For A Hostile Environment

Another Biden pick is in real trouble from the left again, this time it's the Biden administration's selection for Environmental Protection Agency head, Mary Nichols, and environmental and social justice groups are nearly unanimously furious as Biden is now reportedly looking for a replacement.
When Joseph R. Biden, Jr. won the presidential election, his top candidate to lead the nation’s most powerful environmental agency appeared clear: Mary D. Nichols, California’s clean air regulator and arguably the country’s most experienced climate change official, was seen as a lock to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

Now Mr. Biden’s team is scrambling to find someone else, according to several people who have spoken with the presidential transition team. The chief reason: This month, a group of more than 70 environmental justice groups wrote to the Biden transition charging that Ms. Nichols has a “bleak track record in addressing environmental racism.”

Possible last-minute candidates, those people said, include Michael S. Regan, a senior North Carolina environmental official, Richard L. Revesz, a New York University law professor, and Basil Seggos, head of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, none of whom had been in serious contention for the job until late last week. The Biden team is also considering asking Gina McCarthy, who ran the agency in the Obama administration, to return.

The environmental justice groups cited Ms. Nichols’s role in pushing California’s cap-and-trade program, which is designed to broadly reduce pollution of planet-warming greenhouse gases — but disproportionately does so at the expense, the groups said, of communities of color by exposing them to more pollutants like smog and soot. The groups charged that Ms. Nichols had repeatedly disregarded or dismissed the concerns of those communities about the effects of the climate policies she enacted.

The letter appears to have resonated: One of Mr. Biden’s key campaign pledges was a promise to address environmental justice, highlighting the need to protect poor and minority communities that are exposed to more pollution than rich communities.

While Mr. Biden had expected that Ms. Nichols would be criticized by Republicans for her history of pushing tough regulations on industries, he was caught off guard by the intense objections to Ms. Nichols from liberals.

The influence of those groups, and Mr. Biden’s reactions to their push, appears to be another signal of the increasing tensions between the left and moderate factions of the Democratic Party. Mr. Biden has already been subject to criticism from the left for some of his cabinet picks, even as he explicitly attempts to build a cabinet of racial and gender diversity.

A spokesman for the Biden transition team declined to comment.

From the perspective of environmental progressives, the push to oust Ms. Nichols in the name of environmental justice is of a piece with “the battle for the soul of the party,” said Rich Gold, an energy and environment lobbyist and former senior E.P.A. adviser in the Clinton administration.

California environmental groups have long had a legitimate beef with Nichols, and it looks like she's being sunk for good reason.

During the campaign, the Biden-Harris campaign made environmental justice a core part of their climate plan, recognizing that “environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color.” With Ms. Nichols identified as a candidate for EPA Administrator, California environmental justice communities are now holding the President and Vice-President to their word, asserting that Nichols is incompatible with their campaign promise to ensure that communities burdened by pollution would benefit from a transition to clean energy.

During her tenure as CARB Chair, Nichols has been known for pushing market-based approaches to the climate crisis at the expense of the health and well-being of California’s communities of color, who suffer from some of the deadliest air in the country. The California groups’ letter outlines examples of how Nichols has disregarded environmental justice during her tenure.

“As CARB Chair for well over ten years, Mary Nichols had a unique opportunity and responsibility to address generations of environmental injustice in California, as she was urged by community members time and time again. Regrettably, over the years she instead dismissed petitions of frontline communities aimed at both improving their environmental health and preventing further harms from pollution and the climate crisis,” said Gladys Limón, Executive Director of the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA). “As demands for racial justice heighten, COVID-19 races through historically redlined neighborhoods, and big polluters continue to fuel the climate crisis, we need an EPA leader who will partner with frontline communities to advance truly equitable solutions that center the well-being of people, not industries.”

Nichols’ signature cap-and-trade program created a market for big polluters to buy and sell pollution allowances at just $15 per ton. The program is failing to meet its own emissions reduction targets and has increased pollution from the oil and gas industry.

“Mary Nichols’ cap-and-trade program turned working class communities of color into environmental sacrifice zones,” said Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director of Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN). “Nichols’ approach left gaping loopholes for industrial polluters to continue to pollute for profit, and increased pollution burdens on the communities living alongside refineries, oil and gas wells, and dirty power plants. President Biden must learn from California’s failures and appoint an EPA leader who will work with us to lead a just transition away from an economy based on profit and pollution and toward an economy where all of us can thrive.”
To his credit, Biden is listening here. This is an example where a serious, critical problem has been raised, and presented to the Biden team, and the Biden team is responding after considering the new information. That's how things are supposed to work, and note that in the letter, the environmental groups aren't attacking Biden, but stating their case.

It looks like they were successful, and we're better for it with the pick that is emerging, North Carolina's top environmental official, Michael Regan.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will nominate Michael S. Regan, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, according to three people on the Biden transition team.

Mr. Regan became Mr. Biden’s top choice only in recent days, two people familiar with the selection process said. The front-runner had for several weeks been Mary D. Nichols, California’s air quality regulator, but she faced significant criticism from liberal groups who accused her of not doing enough to address issues of environmental racism in her state.

Mr. Biden also has been under pressure to make his cabinet choices more racially diverse. If confirmed, Mr. Regan is expected to bring a strong focus on racial equity to the agency.

“It signals that the Biden administration is serious about getting the E.P.A. back to its core mission to protect the environment and public health as well as ensure strong, meaningful steps are taken to advance environmental justice issues,” said Brian Buzby, the executive director of the North Carolina Conservation Network, a coalition of environmental groups.
The process worked.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

As with Ferguson, Missouri, Black Lives Matter community leaders in Louisville are turning up dead in the wake of revelations that state AG Daniel Cameron never even considered murder or even manslaughter charges against Louisville Metro Police in the death of Breonna Taylor.

Hours after protest leader Travis Nagdy was shot and killed in late November, Kris Smith remembered the young man fondly.

“He’s gonna be missed over here, because he was really one of the good ones,” Smith told The Courier Journal at the time.

Today, those who knew Smith have found themselves saying similar things about the 42-year-old business owner who was a regular at protests over the death of Breonna Taylor.

On Friday, Smith was shot and killed in the 200 block of North 26th Street, according to a chaplain who helped identify his body.

His death is one of more than 150 homicides in Louisville this year, a number that has blown past the city's previous record of 117 homicides in 2016.

Neither Louisville police nor the coroner's office have confirmed Smith as the victim. But Stachelle Bussey, a local pastor and friend of Smith's, said she was with Smith's wife when she identified his body at University of Louisville Hospital.

"Just like everybody else, he was finding his niche, finding his voice" at the protests, Bussey said. "We're mourning one, then we lose another. ... With Travis, I lost a brother. Today we lost another one."
Here's the best part.
Police say there is no evidence to indicate that Nagdy and Smith's deaths are related, and there are "no motives at this point." 

Of course not. Perish the thought. And I'm sure LMPD will have these murders solved any day now.

Any day now.

Black lives still matter.

America Almost Went Super Viral, Con't

Keep in mind that every time Trump regime Republicans say "herd immunity" what they mean is "we will survive, and those people won't, and we'll all be better off." This is of course the same country that decided smallpox blankets to gift the Natives was fair game.

A top Trump appointee repeatedly urged top health officials to adopt a "herd immunity" approach to Covid-19 and allow millions of Americans to be infected by the virus, according to internal emails obtained by a House watchdog and shared with POLITICO.

“There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD," then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote on July 4 to his boss, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials.

"Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected…" Alexander added.

"[I]t may be that it will be best if we open up and flood the zone and let the kids and young folk get infected" in order to get "natural immunity…natural exposure," Alexander wrote on July 24 to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Caputo and eight other senior officials. Caputo subsequently asked Alexander to research the idea, according to emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee's select subcommittee on coronavirus.

Alexander also argued that colleges should stay open to allow Covid-19 infections to spread, lamenting in a July 27 email to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield that “we essentially took off the battlefield the most potent weapon we had...younger healthy people, children, teens, young people who we needed to fastly [sic] infect themselves, spread it around, develop immunity, and help stop the spread.”

Alexander was a top deputy of Caputo, who was personally installed by President Donald Trump in April to lead the health department's communications efforts. Officials told POLITICO that they believed that when Alexander made recommendations, he had the backing of the White House.

“It was understood that he spoke for Michael Caputo, who spoke for the White House,” said Kyle McGowan, a Trump appointee who was CDC chief of staff before leaving this summer. “That’s how they wanted it to be perceived.”

Senior Trump officials have repeatedly denied that herd immunity — a concept advocated by some conservatives as a tactic to control Covid-19 by deliberately exposing less vulnerable populations in hopes of re-opening the economy — was under consideration or shaped the White House's approach to the pandemic. “Herd immunity is not the strategy of the U.S. government with regard to coronavirus," HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified in a hearing before the House coronavirus subcommittee on Oct. 2.

In his emails, Alexander also spent months attacking government scientists and pushing to shape official statements to be more favorable to President Donald Trump.

For instance, Alexander acknowledges in a May 30 email that a draft statement from the CDC about how Covid-19 was disproportionately affecting minority populations was "very accurate," but he warned HHS and CDC communications officials that "in this election cycle that is the kind of statement coming from CDC that the media and Democrat [sic] antagonists will use against the president." The problems were "due to decades of democrat neglect," Alexander alleged.

So yeah, culling the herd.

Those least likely to have the medical resources to survive would die, or become chronically ill with "long COVID" and would eventually die much sooner. Black folk, undocumented folk, poor folk, Latino folk, all the high risk groups would be surrounded by asymptomatic carriers and would of course get sick anyway.  They just wanted a way to justify it to the press and the American people.

This was the plan so that the rest of them could eat out at their favorite restaurant. 

It wasn't just neglect, it was genocide.

74 million voted for it.
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