Thursday, July 27, 2023

Last Call For Climate of Destruction, Con't

A coalition of conservative groups has assembled a plan to systematically target most of the federal government’s work on climate and clean energy.

It proposes a sweeping deconstruction of government programs that goes far beyond what former President Donald Trump attempted to do by targeting “deep state” employees in federal agencies. And it’s designed to be implemented on the first day of a Republican presidency.

Called Project 2025, it would block the expansion of the electrical grid for wind and solar energy; slash funding for the EPA environmental justice office; shutter the Energy Department’s renewable energy offices; prevent states from adopting California’s electric car standards; and give Republican state officials more power to regulate polluting industries.

It was written by hundreds of conservative policy experts, energy lobbyists, industry consultants and former Trump administration officials. If enacted, it could decimate the federal government’s climate work, stymie the clean energy transition and shift agencies toward servicing and nurturing the fossil fuel industry rather than regulating it.

“Project 2025 is not a white paper. We are not tinkering at the edges. We are writing a battle plan, and we are marshaling our forces,” said Paul Dans, director of Project 2025 at the Heritage Foundation. “Never before has the whole conservative movement banded together to systematically prepare to take power day one and deconstruct the administrative state.”

The comprehensive plan — which runs 920 pages and covers virtually all operations of the federal government, not just energy and climate programs — was compiled by the Heritage Foundation as a road map for the first 180 days of the next GOP administration.

Its details were crafted by more than 400 people, including former Trump officials who could earn top spots in his next administration, if he is reelected.

Republican primary candidates all pledged to go after President Joe Biden’s signature piece of climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden’s climate executive orders would also likely be rolled back the day he leaves office.

But the ideas laid out in Project 2025 show that conservative organizations want to move federal agencies away from public health protections and environmental regulations in order to help the industries they have been tasked with overseeing, said Andrew Rosenberg, a senior NOAA official in the Clinton administration and a senior fellow at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy.

“What this does is it basically undermines not only society but the economic capacity of the country at the same time as it’s doing gross violence to the environment,” Rosenberg said
Exploitation of the environment for corporate profits is all that matters. None of these folks believe they'll be around to see the worst of climate change, and they don't care if you'll be around either.

I still say that Gen Z is going to start suing companies and winning n climate change, right up until Congress and SCOTUS immunizes corporations from lawsuits the way gun manufacturers are immune to lawsuits.

The Turtle's Long Road

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tripped and fell disembarking from a plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport this month, two sources familiar with the incident said.

McConnell, 81, was not seriously hurt, and he was seen later that day at the Capitol, where he interacted with at least one reporter.

The fall, which has not been previously reported, occurred July 14 after the flight out of Washington was canceled while everyone was on board. McConnell, R-Ky., who was a passenger, had a “face plant,” someone who was on the plane at the time but did not witness the fall told NBC News. That passenger also said they spoke to another passenger who helped tend to McConnell.

McConnell has also recently been using a wheelchair as a precaution when he navigates crowded airports, said a source familiar with his practices.

McConnell, a polio survivor who has long struggled to navigate stairs and other obstacles, has had a difficult recent history with falls. He sustained a concussion and a cracked rib in a fall in Washington this year, and he spent six weeks away from the Senate. He fractured a shoulder in a fall in Kentucky in 2019, requiring surgery.

McConnell’s nearly 20-second freeze during a news conference Wednesday renewed concerns about his overall health after the concussion.

“He’s definitely slower with his gait,” said a Republican senator who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. In closed-door GOP meetings, “he doesn’t address it,” the senator said, referring to health issues.

McConnell’s office declined to comment for this article Wednesday night.

McConnell, who told reporters he was “fine” after his freeze-up Wednesday, spoke with President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy after the incident.

“The president called to check on me. I told him I got sandbagged,” McConnell joked to reporters, an apparent reference to Biden’s fall last month.
I remind folks that the KY GOP changed the rules for appointing a US Senator should the need arise, while Gov. Beshear would get to make the ultimate choice, tit's the GOP-dominated General Assembly that chooses the list of candidates. 
I can't help but think if anything happened to Mitch now, that the GOP may decide Daniel Cameron would make a good Senator even though he's running for Beshear's job this year, as it's ultimately where he's headed. I don't know if Cameron can be replaced on the gubernatorial ticket this late in the game, but the KY GOP will just change the rules anyway and force Beshear to accept it.

Besides, if Mitch wasn't Senate minority leader, Tom Cotton or Rick Scott would be.

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

President Biden plans to appoint former Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley to head the Social Security Administration, and we'll see if Biden can keep all Dems on board, including Sens. Manchin and Sinema.
O’Malley, a Democrat, will require Senate confirmation to take over at the agency, which oversees a $1 trillion budget and is responsible for distributing benefits to older adults and disabled people.

The Social Security Administration has been run by acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi since President Joe Biden fired then-Commissioner Andrew Saul, a Trump holdover, in 2021. Saul’s ouster set off a partisan backlash, with members of each party accusing the other of politicizing the independent federal agency. Saul, who refused to resign, was just two years into a six-year term.

Beyond political infighting, O’Malley will also have to reckon with questions around the long-term financing of the Social Security Administration. Funds for its key social safety nets programs are expected to be depleted by 2035, mainly due to the country’s aging populating. Congress has struggled to agree on a fix.

O’Malley served as governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015, and was the mayor of Baltimore before that.

Biden said in a statement that those experiences made him a strong pick for the job.

“Governor O’Malley is a lifelong public servant who has spent his career making government more accessible and transparent, while keeping the American people at the heart of his work,” Biden said.

Democrats in Congress also welcomed his nomination.

“Governor Martin O’Malley’s commitment to expanding and protecting Americans’ earned benefits as well as his record of public service will not only safeguard the future of Social Security but also modernize the agency and value its dedicated workforce,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.
If Manchin wanted to make trouble (or Sinema for that matter) they could very well do so here. Especially if Manchin's making good on his threat to run as the No Labels 2024 spoiler candidate, putting down a marker on how Social Security is run would get his name in the papers and noticed by older Americans counting on government checks.  The same goes for Sinema, who is trying to save her own seat in 2024.

We'll see who objects to O'Malley, but if it goes the way Julie Su's nomination at Labor is going, it could be months before this moves forward, if at all.

Biden is sticking by Su, but business groups are already saying they will challenge any regulatory changes as invalid because she hasn't been confirmed yet.

A trade group that has opposed Julie Su’s nomination to lead the Labor Department is demanding the Biden administration refrain from issuing a high-profile rule on gig workers until a Senate-confirmed secretary heads the department.

Flex, the trade group for app-based companies including DoorDash, GrubHub, Lyft and Uber, argued in a letter on Monday that any rules and regulations issued while Su is acting secretary don’t have political legitimacy or constitutional authority.

It’s an early hint at the challenges likely to be raised to the legitimacy of Su’s tenure as she serves as an indefinite acting secretary. And it echoes Republican arguments that any regulations issued by the Labor Department without a Senate-confirmed secretary in place could be subject to legal challenge.

“Any action taken to finalize the proposed worker classification regulation under Ms. Su’s current leadership as Acting Secretary would circumvent the Senate’s constitutional role of providing advice and consent on nominees,” Flex CEO Kristin Sharp said in the letter addressed to President Joe Biden. It mirrored language others have used to forecast legal challenges to Su’s regulations. “The Department should not finalize its worker classification proposal before having a permanent Secretary.”

Though it is publicly encouraging senators to support the nomination, the Biden administration has determined that Su doesn’t currently have enough votes to be confirmed in the Senate. The president plans to keep her in the role as acting secretary.
Remember, Su is in limbo because of Manchin and Sinema right now, along with blanket opposition signaled by all Republicans.  I don't think O'Malley's nomination will be as contentious, but we'll see.
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