Trump makes pitch to farmers: Ethanol plan will be 'great for all!'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvocate calls for fundamental shift in criminal justice system Shame on Europe at the G-7 Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to ‘pack’ Supreme Court MORE on Thursday sought to allay farmers’ concerns after his administration decided to grant waivers to small refineries that don’t add ethanol to their gasoline, a move farmers had opposed.

“The Farmers are going to be so happy when they see what we are doing for Ethanol,” Trump tweeted. “It will be a giant package, get ready! At the same time I was able to save the small refineries from certain closing. Great for all!”

Trump had promised in June to review a national program granting the waivers, but the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent decision to issue new exemptions signaled an administration study would not be carried out.


The president had promised corn farmers he would review the waiver system after a June trip to Iowa.

Farmers expressed outrage over the reversal, saying the EPA’s decision to grant 31 exemptions to small refineries across the country showed the president sided more with the fuel plants than corn growers.

“President Trump’s promises on the future of ethanol were broken with the approval of 31 unjustified refinery waivers as it kills the demand for corn, and Iowa corn farmers are fed up,” the Iowa Corn Farmers Association said in a statement hammering Trump on Tuesday.

“Agriculture is in one hell of a bad situation right now. The government put us in this situation, and they need to help us get out of it,” added Vic Miller, a corn farmer from Fayette County. “It’s time for President Trump to make rural America and the [Renewable Fuel Standard] great again. He made promises to American farmers and now it’s time for him to keep them.”

While some farmers maintain that the ethanol requirement would be an economic boon for them, the EPA said it is following the process for giving waivers to those plants that would face financial hardship by being forced to add ethanol to their fuel.

“EPA, with our federal partners, including USDA and the Department of Energy, continues to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard program in accordance with the Clean Air Act, taking into consideration additional direction from Congress, and relevant court decisions,” the agency said in a statement to The Hill.

“There is zero evidence that EPA’s congressionally mandated small refinery exemption program, which provides regulatory relief to small refineries around the country, has had any negative impact on domestic corn ethanol producers.”

Besides his ethanol policy, farmers have hammered Trump over his prolonged trade war with China as Beijing continues to target agricultural goods with tit-for-tat tariffs to try to chip into a core part of the president’s political support.

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Five things to know about Trump's Labor Day weekend tariffs

The Trump administration is poised to impose 15 percent tariffs on roughly $112 billion of Chinese imports on Sunday, the latest escalation in a tit for tat trade war. The latest salvo comes amid growing fears of a global economic downturn and increasing pessimism about the prospects of striking a trade deal. 

Here are five things you should know about the newest round of tariffs:

The new tariffs will hit consumer goods, including some big holiday retail items.


Until now, the Trump administration has tried to shield consumers from the effects of tariffs by focusing mostly on intermediate goods, which businesses buy to make their finished products. The upcoming round of tariffs cuts directly into consumer products, meaning people will start to see an increase in their bills.

Trump decided to postpone part of the tariffs until Dec. 15, allowing retailers to stock up on inventory ahead of the winter holidays, the biggest spending season of the year. But there are plenty of popular gift items on the list, such as shoes, winter clothes, sports equipment, some electronics and toys, and even Christmas ornaments.

Economists say the tariffs may not affect prices right away, as sellers sell off inventory and look for ways to keep prices from rising in the short term. But that will only last so long.

“I think it’ll take a little while. It could be months,” said Scott Eastman, a researcher at the Tax Foundation, a right-leaning think tank. “But in the medium term, we should expect to see these increased prices.”

Consumers may not notice the increases on individual items, but with the list of tariffed goods growing, it will eventually start eating into people’s disposable income.

“The total cost to consumers will be more than one particular item, and that means less income for consumers because they’re having to pay more for products,” Eastman added. 

The September tariffs will push the average tariff on Chinese products to 20 percent, according to an analysis by Chad P. Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).

More tariffs are coming in October and December.

In case the newest tranche of tariffs weren’t enough, Trump has also scheduled two new rounds of tariffs for the coming months.

Trump has said that on Oct. 1, he would raise the tariff rate on $250 billion of Chinese imports from 25 percent to 30 percent. On Dec. 15, he will add a 15 percent tariff to the $160 billion of imports on consumer goods that were delayed for holiday shoppers.

If all those tariffs go into effect, nearly every product imported from China will face an import tax, with the notable exception of some chemicals and minerals. The average tax rate on Chinese imports will have risen from roughly 3.1 percent before Trump’s presidency to 24.3 percent, according to PIIE.

That could cost the economy $170 billion and shave 529,544 jobs off the economy, according to estimates from the Tax Foundation. 

An early estimate from J.P. Morgan estimated that the tariffs would cost each household $1,000. That was before Trump announced he would raise the tariffs by an additional 5 percent.

China has its own retaliatory tariffs coming into play.

With every volley of new tariffs from Trump, Beijing has retaliated with its own tariffs, hitting American companies that want to export to China.

On Sunday, China will impose tariffs of 5-10 percent on roughly $28.7 billion of American products. Another $45.5 billion are on the docket for Dec. 15, for a total of roughly $75 billion

In China’s crosshairs are U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans, as well as oil and aircraft. Farmers, in particular, have suffered under the weight of the tariffs. China is also renewing its 25 percent tariffs on U.S. autos.

“Overall, China’s average tariff applied to U.S. exports will increase from its current level of 20.7 percent to 21.8 percent on September 1 and to 25.9 percent on December 15,” Bown said.

“This is a sharp increase from the 8.0 percent average tariff that faced US exporters to access the Chinese market before the trade war started in January 2018,” he continued.

Even more damaging to U.S. companies looking to export, Bown noted that China has also cut tariffs for U.S. competitors.

The trade war is expected to drag an already weakening economy.


The economy is already seeing warning signs of a slowdown, and the trade war has only made things worse.

“We believe the risk of trade protectionism between the U.S. and China will persist for some time,” said Satyam Panday, a senior economist at S&P Global. 

The ratings firm is forecasting economic growth will drop to 2.5 percent this year and 1.8 percent next year. The August jousting over trade increased the risk of a recession in the next 12 months by 5 percentage points, though the overall odds still rest at around 1-in-3

Manufacturing has already seen two straight quarters of decline, meeting a widely accepted definition of a recession.

All eyes are on consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and could be vulnerable to tariff-related price increases.

One measure of consumer sentiment fell 8.6 points in August, the largest decline in nearly eight years, largely due to the increased trade tensions. 

“While the overall level of sentiment is still consistent with modest gains in consumption during the year ahead, the data nonetheless increased the likelihood that consumers could be pushed off the tariff cliff in the months ahead,” said Richard Curtin, the University of Michigan economist who directs the consumer sentiment surveys. 

That will pose a test for Trump, who is counting on a strong economy to bolster his 2020 reelection pitch.

Discontent over Trump’s tariffs is growing in the GOP.

Trump’s protectionist trade agenda is an awkward fit in a Republican Party that has long supported free-trade deals, and GOP senators are growing increasingly frustrated with the blowback from the president’s tariffs.

While Republicans have been largely supportive of Trump’s efforts to take on China’s alleged unfair trade practices, some GOP lawmakers have expressed deep concerns with the president’s scattershot trade policy more than a year into his battle with China.

“There’s no question that trade uncertainty is contributing to the slowdown,” said Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump’s ‘due process’ remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.) to Politico. “We’re in a very good place. The danger is: Where are we going to be a year from now if concerns about trade continue to be an irritant to growth?”

Toomey, a top critic of Trump’s trade policies, is one of several GOP members of the Senate Finance Committee working toward a bill to curb the president’s expansive tariff power. While Trump has ruled out signing a measure that would curb his trade authority, he’s reportedly open to a long-shot proposal from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) to cut taxes to cancel out the costs of tariffs.

Even so, Trump has stood defiant in the face of pressure to curb his trade battles.

“What does Pat Toomey want me to say? ‘Let me put my hands up, China, continue to rip me off,’ ” Trump said in a Thursday interview with Fox News radio.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyA farmer’s plea to the president: Fix our fuel Congress is letting the administration violate consultation requirements for refugee admissions Conservative group launches ad campaign against Democratic drug pricing plan MORE (R-Iowa) has in the past used his committee to pressure Trump to back off certain tariffs and threats — and could potentially do so again.

“Tariffs cannot be the only negotiating tool,” he said after the last round of tariffs were announced.  “Tariffs are not a long-term solution.”

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US service member killed in combat in Afghanistan

A U.S. service member was killed in combat Thursday in Afghanistan, the NATO-led mission there announced Friday.

The news release from Resolute Support provided no details of the incident.

The identification of the service member is being withheld until 24 hours after next of kin is notified, in line with Defense Department policy.

The death brings this year’s total number of U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan to 15. The death rate hit a five-year high earlier this month after two service members were killed by small-arms fire.

Right now, the official count of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is 14,000.

American troops have two missions in Afghanistan: to train, advise and assist Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban and to conduct counterterrorism operations against groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.

The Trump administration has been negotiating with the Taliban on a deal that would see the U.S. withdraw in exchange for Taliban assurances that it will not allow terrorists to launch attacks against the United States from Afghanistan.

On Thursday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to host Kuwait’s leader at White House in September West Virginia governor poll: Manchin leads GOP incumbent Justice by 10 points US service member killed in combat in Afghanistan MORE said 8,600 U.S. troops would stay in Afghanistan after any deal with the Taliban.

“We’re going down to 8,600, and then we’ll make a determination from there as to what happens,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News radio.

A drawdown to 8,600 would put U.S. troop levels at a couple hundred more than they were when Trump first took office.

FBI warns of scammers impersonating agents

The FBI reportedly warned this month of a nationwide scam by perpetrators “spoofing” the phone numbers from bureau offices in seven states.

The scammers are believed to have imitated numbers belonging to field offices in California, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin thus far, according to the bureau. Callers are telling targets a warrant exists for them that can be dismissed by a federal court in exchange for a payment, according to CNN.


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Perpetrators of such schemes have often conducted extensive background research on their targets to create the illusion of authenticity, CNN says.

The FBI said there are also variations on the operation in which victims are told their Social Security number has been linked to money laundering or used to open bank accounts the government is preparing to seize, and that the victim must transfer their money to a government account. Targets are frequently told they could be subject to loss of funds or arrest if they fail to make the transfer.

Scams whose perpetrators impersonate government officials are reportedly at an all-time high. Americans have been bilked out of at least $450 million by callers claiming to be government officials since 2014, according to CNN, citing Federal Trade Commission data.

Florida governor declares state of emergency ahead of hurricane

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisDorian strengthens as it takes aim at Florida Trump warns Florida to prepare as Dorian approaches White House approves emergency declaration for Virgin Islands as Dorian approaches MORE (R) declared a state of emergency Wednesday as Hurricane Dorian inches toward the Sunshine State.

“It’s important for Floridians on the East Coast to monitor this storm closely. Every Florida resident should have seven days of supplies, including food, water and medicine, and should have a plan in case of disaster,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I will continue to monitor Hurricane Dorian closely with emergency management officials. The state stands ready to support all counties along the coast as they prepare.” 


“Because of the uncertainty in the track of this storm, every resident along the East Coast needs to be ready,” added Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz. “As updates come out, it’s important that Floridians continue to pay attention to media and local officials as the track of this storm has been changing and can continue to change rapidly.” 

The executive order DeSantis signed to declare the state of emergency allows the State Emergency Operations Center to activate to a Level 2 on Thursday morning, which the governor says will help boost coordination between federal, state and local emergency management agencies. 

“By having an Executive Order in place and by activating the State Emergency Operations Center to a Level 2, we are fully prepared to support any community that might be impacted,” said Moskowitz.

The storm, which is expected to hit Florida later this week, was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane Wednesday as it passed over the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is expected to bring heavy rain and sustained winds up to 60 mph to the Virgin Islands as well as Puerto Rico and could trigger fatal flash flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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Interior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers' districts after opposition to BLM move

An outgoing top official at the U.S. Department of the Interior said he may reconsider placing government employees in the home states of lawmakers who expressed opposition to the relocation of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallInterior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers’ districts after opposition to BLM move Overnight Energy: Greens scoff at Trump claim he’s an ‘environmentalist’ | Endangered animals get new protections globally | Fires, climate on centerstage at G-7 | BLM’s move west gets complicated GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year MORE (D-N.M.) and Rep. Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumInterior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers’ districts after opposition to BLM move Overnight Energy: Greens scoff at Trump claim he’s an ‘environmentalist’ | Endangered animals get new protections globally | Fires, climate on centerstage at G-7 | BLM’s move west gets complicated Democrats object to Interior plans to move BLM out west MORE (D-Minn.), who oversee the Interior Department’s budget through their roles on the Senate and House Appropriations committees, wrote last Friday asking the agency to suspend its relocation of BLM.


A response from Joe BalashJoseph (Joe) BalashInterior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers’ districts after opposition to BLM move Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West MORE, BLM’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management who announced Aug. 20 he is resigning from Interior, makes clear their opposition has jeopardized plans to send federal employees to their state.  

“Given your apparent strong feelings about the Department’s actions and intentions, we pledge to review and reconsider the relocation of additional departmental resources to your state,” Balash wrote to the two lawmakers in a letter obtained by The Hill. “We are also open to working with other delegations that object to additional departmental resources being allocated to their states.”

The Department of the Interior announced in July that it would leave just 61 BLM employees in Washington while scattering about 300 other D.C.-based employees to offices all across the West.

While no employees are slated for Minnesota, Udall’s home state of New Mexico was set to receive 32 federal workers under the plan.

“The actions of the department and the lack of justification for this proposal seem to underscore the message that Interior officials fully intended to dismantle and weaken the BLM from the outset,” Udall said in a statement to The Hill.

He went on to outline what he sees as a number of issues with Interior, from slashing BLM’s budget to failing to install a permanent director. The current director, William Pendley, once advocated selling off federal public lands.

“I will continue to ask tough questions of the Department and I will not accept any attempts by the administration to steamroll Congress in their efforts to deliberately dismantle and weaken the BLM,” Udall said. 

McCollum said Balash’s letter shows Interior is once again trying to circumvent Congress.

“Unfortunately, this letter continues the pattern of this administration’s failure to recognize Congress’ role as a co-equal branch of government. It is our constitutional duty to conduct oversight and ensure appropriated taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” she said in a statement to The Hill. “I along with other members of Congress are concerned that BLM is moving in a direction that will lead to employee attrition and uncertainty in BLM’s ability to achieve its mission and goals.”

Tensions between lawmakers and Interior rose after disagreements over whether Congress had given the go-ahead for the move.  

Others have also asked the agency to hold off on its relocation plans.

The Public Lands Foundation, a 600-member group composed of former BLM employees, asked leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing on a relocation they say will “functionally dismantle” the agency.

Interior plans to move 27 of its top officials to a new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., along with relocating employees to other offices out West. They say the move will put employees close to the lands they manage. 

“While you may believe that ease of communication for members of Congress and its staff should be a priority for the bureau’s headquarters location, we believe it is more important that the bureau’s day-to-day focus should be on interacting with your constituents and the American people in fulfilling its mission,” Balash wrote. 

But longtime BLM employees say the move will undercut the agency’s mission, sidelining career staff while leaving political appointees at the helm.

“You’ve got leadership for most part in Grand Junction and then have their staff literally shotgunned around the West. How is this a model for efficiency for this agency?” Steve Ellis, who served in BLM’s highest career-level position before retiring in 2016, previously told The Hill. “If I wanted to dismantle an agency, this would be my playbook. How does it make sense? It’s a model for how not to work.”

“The agency is basically being decapitated,” he said.

Updated at 11:25 p.m.

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American college student being held in China appeals to Trump for help

An American college student who, along with his sister and mother, has not been allowed to leave China for more than a year pleaded directly to President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvocate calls for fundamental shift in criminal justice system Shame on Europe at the G-7 Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to ‘pack’ Supreme Court MORE on Thursday to negotiate with Beijing for his release. 

“More needs to be done on our behalf. And I just want to take this time to address president directly, if I may, and say this: President Trump, you are the only person who can bring my sister and me home. We need your help. We need it urgently,” Victor Liu said on CNN. 

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Liu, 20, has been trapped in China for more than a year, saying he is being used as “human bait” to try to get his estranged father back to the country to face criminal charges of financial misconduct.


“It’s surreal and it makes me angry and it pains me to know that because of my estranged biological father, whom I must know abandoned my family many years ago, whom I haven’t seen since, and whom I believe has another family now, because of what he allegedly did when I was just 8 years old as an American elementary school student in third grade living in Massachusetts, my family and I are being made to suffer and we are being used as human bait trying to get him to come back to China,” he said. 

Liu specifically thanked Trump, national security adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonSchumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord Why President Trump must keep speaking out on Hong Kong Trump meets with national security team on Afghanistan peace plan MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill’s Morning Report – Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks Democrats call for end to Remain in Mexico asylum policy Trump administration preparing for talks with Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen: report MORE, as well as Democratic Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyFederal agency ends policy protecting migrants who receive medical care Climate plan sets Sanders apart from the rest of the pack The Hill’s Morning Report – Is this a turning point in 2020 Dem presidential primary? MORE and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOcasio-Cortez blasts former senate Dem for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Democrats certify candidate lineup for third presidential debate Yang hits CNN, media over campaign coverage MORE of his home state of Massachusetts for their support but said “more needs to be done.”

“Right now, I am beyond terrified being in China and just speaking with you. I’m seriously concerned about my safety and my family’s safety, and I desperately need to come home to the U.S. as soon as possible,” he said, adding that both he and his sister have been diagnosed with depression and that his sister also has “severe anxiety.” 

David Pressman, a former deputy United Nations ambassador who is serving as legal counsel for the Liu family, said in a statement to The Hill on Thursday that the siblings “have been held against their will as a crude form of human bait for the sole purpose of attempting to lure their estranged biological father back to China.”

“Neither Victor nor Cynthia are accused of any wrongdoing whatsoever. I am deeply concerned about their mental health and their ability to continue to endure this awful situation,” Pressman said. “There is absolutely no basis under international law or Chinese law to prevent these young Americans from returning home.”

Trump has taken pride in the past at being able to return Americans held abroad back home, touting his successful efforts to broker the release of three U.S. citizens held in North Korea. 

The State Department issued a travel advisory in January warning of Beijing’s “coercive” use of exit bans. 

“Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years,” the advisory said. “China uses exit bans coercively: to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.”

—Updated at 5:48 p.m.

Overnight Energy: Greens scoff at Trump claim he's an 'environmentalist' | Endangered animals get new protections globally | Fires, climate on centerstage at G-7 | BLM's move west gets complicated

GREENS SCOFF AT TRUMP CLAIM HE’S AN ‘ENVIRONMENTALIST’: Trump’s statement that he is an environmentalist is provoking a backlash from critics who say his policies have hurt environmental protections and the fight against climate change.

Trump’s assertion Monday that he is a friend of the environment came at the conclusion of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in France, after he skipped the climate portion of the summit and a discussion on Brazil’s raging forest fires. 

The president’s words, coupled with his actions, prompted swift criticism from environmental advocates.

“It’s detached from reality, just like everything he has ever said about climate and renewable energy,” said Mitch Jones, climate and energy program director at Food & Water Action. “For this president to claim he’s an environmentalist is one of the most absurd jokes on mankind ever been played. And it’s not funny.”

What Trump said: Trump’s absence from the environment-focused portions of the annual meeting of world leaders also renewed questions among his critics about whether he believes in man-made climate change.


“I’m an environmentalist. A lot of people don’t understand that,” Trump said at Monday’s press conference. “I think I know more about the environment than most people.”

Trump’s record: Trump has played a major role in scaling back environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency has rewritten regulations for coal-fired power plants, vehicle emissions and methane in ways that will weaken protections and significantly add to pollution, environmentalists argue.

The White House side: When reached for comment, the White House pointed to a July speech in which the president hailed his administration’s environmental leadership alongside its oil and gas production. But that speech was blasted by scientists and conservationists.

Read more here.


More on Trump and the G-7 below…


Happy Humpday! And welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. 

A programming note: During August recess we’ll be publishing our recaps once a week. Keep an eye out for Overnight Energy on Wednesdays until Congress returns.

Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, and Rebecca Beitsch, Follow us on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @rebeccabeitsch and @thehill.

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G-7 AFTER-BURN: President TrumpDonald John TrumpAdvocate calls for fundamental shift in criminal justice system Shame on Europe at the G-7 Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to ‘pack’ Supreme Court MORE over the weekend attended the Group of Seven conference in France, where a number of environmental issues from climate change to the raging forest fire in Brazil were on the minds of leaders. But not everyone was on the same page.


Trump skips G7 climate session: Trump Monday kipped a session at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in France focused on climate, biodiversity and oceans.

The president was not in the room when reporters were allowed to observe part of the session, and his seat was empty. The heads of government of the other six nations that comprise the G-7 were there.

“The President had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India, so a senior member of the Administration attended in his stead,” press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamMSNBC’s O’Donnell retracts report alleging Trump banking ties to Russian oligarchs Overnight Energy: Greens scoff at Trump claim he’s an ‘environmentalist’ | Endangered animals get new protections globally | Fires, climate on centerstage at G-7 | BLM’s move west gets complicated Trump lawyer demands MSNBC retract report alleging banking ties to Russian oligarchs MORE later told reporters.

Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel a short time after the climate session and was asked if he had attended.

“I’m going to. In fact, it’s going to be our next session. I want clear air and clean water,” Trump said. It was unclear if he heard a reporter who noted the session had just happened.

During the climate meeting, leaders approved a $20 million aid package to help Brazil and other South American countries address fires engulfing swaths of the Amazon rainforest, French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronNo G-7 communique underscores loss of US diplomacy Overnight Energy: Greens scoff at Trump claim he’s an ‘environmentalist’ | Endangered animals get new protections globally | Fires, climate on centerstage at G-7 | BLM’s move west gets complicated Has the G-7 outlived its usefulness? MORE said.

More on the G-7 climate developments here.


Brazil, France fight delays fire aid: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday demanded an apology from his French counterpart, Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronNo G-7 communique underscores loss of US diplomacy Overnight Energy: Greens scoff at Trump claim he’s an ‘environmentalist’ | Endangered animals get new protections globally | Fires, climate on centerstage at G-7 | BLM’s move west gets complicated Has the G-7 outlived its usefulness? MORE, before discussions can begin over international aid to fight wildfires in the Amazon, Reuters reported.

“First of all, Macron has to withdraw his insults. He called me a liar. Before we talk or accept anything from France … he must withdraw these words then we can talk,” Bolsonaro told reporters. “First he withdraws, then offers [aid], then I will answer.”

Bolsonaro and Macron have been engaged in a war of words since the Group of Seven (G-7) nations, which includes France but not Brazil, agreed on a $20 million aid package to combat the forest fires burning the Amazon rainforest.

The Brazilian president mocked Macron’s wife on Facebook and then accused the French leader of disrespecting Brazil’s sovereignty.

Macron responded by calling Bolsonaro a liar, adding that Brazilian women are probably ashamed of their president.

Read more here.


RHINOS, AND ELEPHANTS & GIRAFFES, OH MY: Over the past week, representatives from various nations have met to discuss updates to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)–the global treaty that regulates wildlife trade. And there have been a lot of changes, including promises from various countries to curb their trade in ivory.


Countries reach agreement to protect 18 shark species: Three proposals to protect 18 types of sharks at risk of extinction passed a committee of the World Wildlife Conference with a two-third majority Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

The proposals govern international trade in different species of mako shark, wedgefishes and guitarfishes, according to the AP. Makos, the world’s fastest sharks, are frequently caught in tuna nets.

Dissenting members objected to the measure’s potential effect on their countries’ fishing industries. “Japan has been highly dependent on (live) marine resources from the ancient times,” Hideki Moronuki, director of fisheries negotiations at the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said, according to the AP. “It’s very, very important for us in Japan to sustainably use all those marine riches.”

Read more here.


Some ivory markets kept open: The European Union and Japan will be able to keep their domestic ivory trades open despite a push to end the market globally at this year’s international wildlife trafficking meeting in Geneva.

The decision Wednesday at the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties’ (CoP18) discussion of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), will allow the two regions to continue sales of ivory within their borders. 

Nevertheless, environmentalists are seeing the outcome of the meeting as a positive. Countries confirmed a commitment to eventually close all domestic ivory markets and agreed on a consensus to focus their scrutiny on any remaining open markets.

Domestic ivory markets such as the EU and Japan will be subject to more stringent record keeping, including regularly reporting on measures they are taking to make sure their domestic trade does not contribute to poaching or a black market.

“This is a great outcome for elephants,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity. Many countries have closed their markets since CoP17 but countries like Japan still need to take action. The Decision today will help ensure that markets are closed and elephants are protected,” Sanerib said.

The website Yahoo! also announced this week it will ban the sales of ivory in Japan across its e-commerce sites.

Read more here.


Elephant exports to zoos limited: The European Union on Tuesday voted to approve a proposal limiting the export of wild-caught elephants from Zimbabwe and Botswana.

The measure, introduced at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), was amended to include a compromise for “exceptional circumstances” after negotiations between the EU and the African Elephant Coalition (AEC).

The proposal allows for some exceptions relevant to Europe, including allowing an elephant already in an EU country to be shipped to a nearby EU nation without having to be sent back to Africa first.

The new resolutions, passed by a vote of 87 in favor, 29 opposed and 25 abstaining, means zoos will not be able to import wild-caught African elephants to the U.S., China and a number of other countries beyond elephants’ natural habitat.

Read more here.


BLM HEADS OUT WEST: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took its first step in moving Washington-based staff out West, offering up vacant, but perhaps lower profile positions to staffers, despite objections from lawmakers.

The Department of Interior announced in July that it would leave just 61 BLM employees in the capital and move about 300 other Washington-based employees to offices closer to the public lands they manage.

In an email to staff sent late Friday and obtained by The Hill, BLM head William Pendley encouraged staffers to apply for vacant positions that have been moved out West as part of the agency’s effort to relocate most of its D.C.-based staff.

But those familiar with government pay grades say many of the positions offered up by Pendley are at a lower grade and may not pay as well as employees’ jobs in D.C.

The email from Pendley says D.C.-based staff will be given “priority consideration” for vacant positions in order to “help retain Washington Office BLM employees.”

Pendley’s email offers vacant positions at the GS-12 pay level and above, but many BLM Washington office employees are GS-13 and higher. Pay also varies by location, with employees in larger cities often earning more.

The vacant jobs are being offered up before BLM employees have been notified of where they are being transferred. 

“I read it as, ‘Your job is going West … at a location as yet to be determined. However, if one of these other BLM jobs is attractive, you will get hiring/selection preference if you qualify,'” said Steve Ellis, who retired from BLM in 2016 as the deputy director for operations, the highest career-level position.

Read more here.


But the hiring spree comes amid serious opposition in Congress: The Interior Department says it would move ahead with plans to relocate BLM after getting the green light from Congress, but lawmakers say no such approval has been granted.

“The administration’s characterization of Congress having ‘blessed’ BLM’s relocation plan is false,” Amanda Yanchury, spokeswoman for Rep. Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumInterior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers’ districts after opposition to BLM move Overnight Energy: Greens scoff at Trump claim he’s an ‘environmentalist’ | Endangered animals get new protections globally | Fires, climate on centerstage at G-7 | BLM’s move west gets complicated Democrats object to Interior plans to move BLM out west MORE (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Interior Department, said in a statement to The Hill.

“Interior’s initial relocation plan was significantly lacking in the details necessary for the Committee to evaluate this proposal. That’s why Congress, in a bipartisan and bicameral manner, requested more information — to ensure the transparency and accountability of the administration’s actions,” she added. 

Read the story here.


Letters from lawmakers and former BLM employees are asking Interior to put the move on hold: McCollum and Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallInterior official threatens to withhold jobs in lawmakers’ districts after opposition to BLM move Overnight Energy: Greens scoff at Trump claim he’s an ‘environmentalist’ | Endangered animals get new protections globally | Fires, climate on centerstage at G-7 | BLM’s move west gets complicated GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year MORE (D-N.M.) formally objected to the agency’s plans to move the headquarters with a letter to Interior. 

“Based on the incomplete and superficial information that you provided, it appears that the proposal to relocate Bureau headquarters is not based on rigorous financial and organizational analysis, nor is it intended to increase the Bureau’s accountability and improve the management of our nation’s public lands,” the two wrote.

Udall and McCollum say Interior sidelined Congress, organizational analysts and career staff at the BLM when making plans to move the agency, along with failing to provide answers to basic questions or a meaningful cost-benefit analysis.

The letter comes as outside groups have pushed for more congressional oversight of the relocation. 

The Public Lands Foundation, a 600-member group composed of former BLM employees, asked leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing on a relocation they say will “functionally dismantle” the agency.

Read more here and here. 


Meanwhile, in Grand Junction: Residents and leaders in Grand Junction, Colo., view the planned BLM move as a perfect match. The headquarters would bring new blood into a community eager to improve its economy while giving staffers the chance to live, work and play near the lands they help manage.

Nearly three-quarters of Mesa County, where Grand Junction is located, is federal land.

“From an economic standpoint, it helps diversify our economy, which unfortunately over the years has been subject to boom and bust,” said Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart, referring to the oil and gas industry and mining for coal and minerals.

“We can’t afford to have an economy so dependent on one set of industries,” he added.

But many critics of the plan are concerned the proximity to energy and grazing interests are designed to skew future use of public lands away from recreational and conservation priorities that are weighed alongside the value of public lands.

“Grand Junction is an oil and gas town,” said Taylor McKinnon, an Arizona-based senior public lands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The politics in that part of the world is heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry, and they have been for a long time.”

Read more here.



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-Indonesia to move capital from sinking Jakarta to Borneo, the Associated Press reports. 

-Scientists detect microplastics in Lake Tahoe for the first time, we report.

-BP to quit Alaska after 60 years with $5.6 billion sale, Reuters reports.


ICYMI: Stories from this week…

-2020 presidential primary candidates to appear in MSNBC climate forum

-Scientists successfully fertilize eggs from last existing northern white rhinos

-Marriott bans single-use shampoo, bath gel bottles

-Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg reaches New York after sailing across Atlantic

-Trump moves to permit new logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest: report

-Scientists detect microplastics in Lake Tahoe for the first time

-Scientists fight Trump EPA ‘secret science’ proposal to exclude certain research

-Iowa corn farmers to Trump: The government put us in ‘one hell of a bad situation’

-BP ending its six-decade business in Alaska

-Trump on major storm approaching Puerto Rico: ‘Will it ever end?’

-EU approves proposal limiting export of elephants from Africa

-Brazil’s Bolsonaro demands apology from Macron before discussing Amazon fire aid

-Residents raise concerns about tropical storm approaching Puerto Rico

-Brazil rejecting G-7 aid to fight Amazon fires

-Manufacturers oppose energy efficiency testing rule designed to benefit industry

-Trump says he’s ‘an environmentalist’ after skipping G-7 climate meeting

-Environmentalists scoff after Trump claims he’s one of them

-G-7 leaders agree on Amazon fire aid at meeting Trump missed

-Trump absent from G-7 session on climate

-Trump slams ‘ridiculous’ report that he wanted to blow up hurricanes with nukes

-Yang climate plan heavily relies on entrepreneurship, nuclear

Ohio prosecutor warns white supremacist 'cowards' while announcing charges over anti-Semitic threats

The U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio issued a warning to white supremacists who threaten violence online while announcing charges Thursday against a man accused of making anti-Semitic threats online.

In a press conference, U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman announced James Reardon, a self-described white nationalist, has been charged with one count of transmitting threatening communications through interstate commerce.


Reardon’s Instagram account, which was full of anti-Semitic language, featured a video of a man firing a rifle with the Youngstown Jewish Community Center tagged and the caption “Police identified the Youngstown Jewish Family Community shooter as local white nationalist Seamus O’Rearedon,” the Gaelic equivalent of his name, according to CNN.

Addressing white nationalists directly, Herdman said, “The Constitution protects your right to speak, your right to think, and your right to believe. If you want to waste the blessings of liberty by going down a path of hatred and failed ideologies, that is your choice.”

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“What you don’t have, though, is the right to take out your frustration at failure in the political arena by resorting to violence. You don’t have any right to threaten the lives and well-being of our neighbors,” he said.

“They have an absolute God-given and inalienable right to live peacefully, to worship as they please, to be free from fear that they might become a target simply because of the color of their skin, the country of their birth, or the form of their prayer,” he added.

In his warning, Herdman also invoked the killing of 22 people in El Paso, Texas, earlier this month. The suspect in the case reportedly told police he intended to kill “Mexicans” and has been tied to a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto. Herdman also pointed to Dylann Roof, the white supremacist convicted of murdering nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.

“Threatening to kill Jewish people, gunning down innocent Latinos on a weekend shopping trip, planning and plotting to perpetrate murders in the name of a nonsense racial theory, sitting to pray with God-fearing people who you execute moments later — those actions don’t make you soldiers, they make you cowards,” Herdman said.

“And law enforcement does not go to war with cowards who break the law, we arrest them and send them to prison,” he added.

World Cup difficulty: a Puurs vincono Puigblanque e Eiter. Crespi è secondo

L’1/05 a Puurs (BEL) la seconda tappa della Coppa del Mondo Difficoltà è stata vinta da Ramón Julián Puigblanque e Angela Eiter. Flavio Crespi è 2°, Luca Zardini 8°.

Puurs, Belgio, secondo turno della Coppa del Mondo Difficoltà. O, meglio, seconda tappa “Leads” come da quest’anno viene chiamata la specialità più antica dell’arrampicata con il pettorale. Leads significa da primo, al comando. E allora iniziamo proprio da chi comanda, da chi è partito con il piglio dello sprinter. Partiamo, insomma, dall’assoluta novità (ma non casualità) di un italiano, Flavio Crespi, da solo al comando della classifica generale della World Cup. Mentre in campo femminile, infatti, continua quella che sembra proprio una dittatura targata Angela Eiter, che è partita in questo scorcio di 2005 con un “due vittorie su due gare” che non ammette nessuna replica. Il cuore della corsa, quello più interessante, coinvolgente, ma anche più intrigante e con il sapore della scommessa, è senza dubbio tutto nella gara maschile, dove invece le dittature (quelle di Chabot e Mrazek) sembrano scricchiolare (paurosamente?).

Crespi in Belgio ha ribadito la partenza al fulmicotone del primo posto di Veliko con una seconda piazza, conquistata dietro a Ramón Julián Puigblanque, che la dice lunga sulle sue intenzioni, ma soprattutto sulle sue possibilità. Tanto più se si considera che sul terzo gradino podio è salito un Alexandre Chabot, che dopo la disastrosa prova d’inizio circuito (29°) ha risalito ben 26 posizioni. Segno che roi Alex non era poi molto assente in Belgio, e che nonostante ciò Crespi gli è stato comunque davanti. Significa che stanno cambiando i valori i campo? E’ presto per dirlo, il circuito del Leads (già “difficoltà) è una maratona in 10 tappe… Ma questa partenza può già dire molto. Dice della sofferenza di un Mrazek che stenta a ritrovarsi e che, dopo il 9° posto di Veliko, in Belgio non va oltre l’ottava posizione, l’ultima della finale. Dice di un Usobiaga che nella seconda tappa è 10°, e fuori dall’ultimo turno. Come mostra un impagabile Luca Zardini – questa volta aggiungete voi il superlativo più adatto – che a 32 anni si prende il giusto premio per la sua classe centrando la seconda finale consecutiva, e un 7° posto che (sommato al 5° di Veliko) gli frutta il 5° posto in classifica generale.

Insomma, questa partenza di Coppa maschile può essere letta in molti modi. Considerando, ad esempio, la difficoltà delle vie che risulta dai (soli) 5 top della gara. Peraltro raggiunti tutti in qualificazione, ad opera di Puigblanque, Lachat, Verhoeven, Mrazek e Usobiaga. Oppure mettendo l’accento sui volti nuovi come il giovanissimo olandese Verhoeven (6° a Puurs) o sul ritrovato svizzero Lachat (4°). Ma il tutto non può prescindere da Flavio Crespi. E’ lui l’uomo da battere, l’ha dimostrato in anche a Puurs dove, a una qualificazione senza top, e a un secondo turno dalla classifica incerta e ultracompressa (tutti i finalisti stavano nel giro di 4 prese), ha fatto seguire una finale dove è stato dietro solo ad un grande Puigblanque (lancio mancato al top). Segno che oltre alla forma il varesino c’è anche psicologicamente, e soprattutto che ci crede. E questa è la cosa più importante, quella che ci fa scommettere in (incrociamo le dita) un suo grande circuito mondiale 2005.

Chi per ora non ha assolutamente problemi e dubbi è Angela Eiter che fa sua la gara con tre top su tre vie. Anche se va detto che l’austriaca ha vinto in semifinale, dove è stata l’unica a trovare la catena. Sì perché nell’ultimo turno al top è stata seguita da quell’autentico fenomeno di Sandrine Levet, l’unica atleta del circuito a poter vincere sia nel boulder sia in leads. Tanto più se si pensa che a Puurs è stata davanti ad autentiche specialiste come la Maja Vidmar (3a), Caroline Ciavaldini (4a) e, soprattutto, a Muriel Sarkany solo 5a e in chiaro ritardo rispetto al suo standard abituale. Come del resto Jenny Lavarda persasi in Belgio in zone della classifica (33a posizione) per lei assolutamente non veritiere. Come sicuramente migliorabili sono le posizioni degli altri azzurri presenti a Puurs: Brenna 22°, Droetto 24°, Giupponi 37° e Gambaro 42°.

Resta da dire, per avere un’idea d’insieme, della classifica a squadre maschile che vede al comando l’Italia con 290 punti, seguita da Spagna (233) e Svizzera (174). Al quarto posto la Francia a 137 punti, e questa è l’assoluta novità di tutta la storia… I transalpini continueranno a restere così in basso? Probabilmente no, visto che in classifica femminile la Francia comanda con 417 punti davanti a Slovenia (354) e Italia (330). La situazione e fluida, insomma. Ma intanto noi abbiamo Flavi Crespi al comando e, visti i risultati della squadra, non è solo!

Per pensarci e ripensarci c’è tempo: la prossima puntata va in onda il 27-28 maggio da Imst, Austria.

Classifica maschile – Puurs (BEL)
1 Puigblanque Ramón Julián ESP
2 Crespi Flavio ITA
3 Chabot Alexandre FRA
4 Lachat Cédric SUI
5 Vinokur Vadim USA
6 Verhoeven Jorg NED
7 Zardini Luca ITA
8 Mrázek Tomás CZE
9 Bindhammer Christian GER
10 Usobiaga Patxi ESP
11 Preußler Timo GER
12 Ovtchinnikov Evgueni RUS
13 Sapey Anthony SUI
14 Fuselier Mickael FRA
15 Desgranges Romain FRA
16 Sova Matej SLO
17 Dugit Fabien FRA
18 Winkler Daniel SUI
19 Legrand Yannick FRA
20 Becan Klemen SLO
21 Favresse Olivier BEL
22 Brenna Cristian ITA
23 Ten Sijthoff Casper NED
24 Droetto Fabrizio ITA
25 Magin Philipp GER
26 Valjavec Tomaz SLO
27 Ito Hidekazu JPN
28 Schmid Thomas SUI
29 Hirayama Yuji JPN
29 Sommer Remo SUI
31 Repcik Juraj SVK
32 Guerimand Flavien FRA
33 Bindhammer Andreas GER
33 Tak Timo NED
35 Marin Garcia Eduard ESP
36 Mottart Didier BEL
37 Giupponi Luca ITA
38 Timmermans Michael BEL
39 De Girolamo Vincent FRA
39 Millet Sylvain FRA
39 Reis Jürgen AUT
42 Gambaro Matteo ITA
43 Libot Wanne BEL
44 Thomas Jonathan BEL
45 Materne Florian BEL

Classifica femminile – Puurs (BEL)
1 Eiter Angela AUT
2 Levet Sandrine FRA
3 Vidmar Maja SLO
4 Ciavaldini Caroline FRA
5 Sarkany Muriel BEL
6 Gros Natalija SLO
7 Franko Lucjia SLO
8 Giroux Elodie FRA
9 Kobayashi Yuka JPN
10 Bacher Barbara AUT
11 Eyer Alexandra SUI
12 Januel Caroline FRA
13 Graftiaux Chloé BEL
14 Zjilstra Vera NED
15 Chevrier Anne-Laure FRA
16 Graftiaux Alix BEL
17 Cufar Martina SLO
Minoret Chloé FRA
19 Stendal Linn Karin NOR
20 Piola Anouk SUI
21 Ruh Nadine GER
22 Markovic Mina SLO
23 Caprez Nina SUI
24 Harnisch Martina AUT
25 Guggisberg Annina SUI
26 Raffetseder Gerda AUT
27 Louis Stéphanie SUI
Saurwein Katharina AUT
29 Steenackers Katie BEL
30 Nilwik Rachel NED
Zijlstra Evelien NED
32 Anthoni Kim BEL
33 Lavarda Jenny ITA
34 Brumagne Mathilde BEL

World Cup Leads 2005

seconda prova

Puurs (BEL)
29 Aprile – 1 maggio

Nelle foto dall’alto:
Flavio Crespi; Angela Eiter e Ramón Julián Puigblanque (World Cup )
ph archivio news Flavio Crespi

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