Overnight Energy: EPA argues its blog isn't public information, won't change post | Castro, Booker release climate plans | Democrats duke it out to be top climate candidate

FIGHT OVER EPA BLOG: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won’t tweak a recent blog post that environmentalists say is inaccurate because the agency argues its blog is not considered public information.

The tension stems from a June post on the agency’s blog that included apparent praise for an EPA action on pesticides considered harmful to bees.

“The Washington Post has also recently reported on some of our efforts, saying that ‘the Trump administration’s action [to protect pollinators] was welcome news to some environmentalists,’ which demonstrates how united Americans are on this important issue,” Alexandria Dapolito Dunn, the EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, wrote in the blog post.

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But that Washington Post article more broadly references how the EPA scaled back the use of some pesticides as part of a legal settlement with the Center for Food Safety.

The article also quoted George Kimbrell, the legal director for the center, saying “certainly we have a ways to go.” 

The EPA recently expanded the use of a pesticide considered harmful to bees.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint under the Information Quality Act, which can be used to demand a correction of inaccurate information from government sources. 

“This statement fails to capture the impetus for EPA’s cancelation of the pesticide products, which was that an environmental non-profit had to sue EPA,” to stop the use of pesticides harmful to bees, Lori Ann Burd, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program, wrote in the complaint noting the five-year legal battle. “This quote is taken entirely out of context.”

 

EPA pushback: But the agency rejected the complaint late last week.

“The EPA Blog is an example of information that would not be considered disseminated by the EPA to the public,” Kevin Kirby of the EPA wrote in response to Burd.

“The guidelines do not apply to ephemeral information, as what is being offered is someone’s opinion rather than fact or EPA’s views,” he said. 

The EPA blog page includes an editor’s note after each post saying it is for “informational purposes only” and that the views are “intended to explain EPA policy.”

But the EPA is known to be aggressive in combatting reporting it considers misleading. The agency regularly sends out press releases critiquing articles in various outlets. 

The center’s complaint came in the wake of an EPA decision in July to expand the use of sulfoxaflor, a pesticide the agency previous said was very highly toxic to bees. 

“EPA’s points are made in the blog post, and we stand by our statements. I’m sorry these organizations are taking issue with the Washington Post, and our actions to preserve and protect pollinators,” EPA spokesman Michael Abboud told The Hill in a statement.

Read more about the fight over the blog here.

 

Happy Tuesday! And welcome back to your once-a-day Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. 

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

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TODAY’S CLIMATE PLAN ROLLOUTS… are brought to you by Julián Castro and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker unveils T climate plan Democrats to duke it out for top climate candidate title Democrats call for action after Texas mass shooting MORE.

Castro’s “People and Planet First” plan: Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro released a robust climate plan Tuesday, setting goals for decarbonizing the economy, addressing environmental discrimination and combating the effects of climate change.

The plan, released a day ahead of a CNN town hall on climate, touches on a number of priorities laid out in the Green New Deal and combines a number of ideas proposed by other candidates. 

“People do not live their lives in silos and so our plan is intersectional,” Castro said in the proposal titled “People and Planet First.” “We will build a 100 percent clean energy economy that both combats the climate crisis and tackles structural inequality.”

The former secretary for Housing and Urban Development laid out stages for transitioning away from carbon-producing sources of pollution, starting with phasing out coal-fired power plants by 2030 to ultimately reaching net-zero emissions in the U.S. by 2045.

Castro hopes to reach global net-zero emissions by 2050.

The plan is likely to help bolster Castro’s environmental credentials as climate change becomes an increasingly important issue to Democratic voters. 

The former mayor of San Antonio currently ranks 10th in many national polls. 

Castro also commits to proposing civil rights legislation on his first day in office that would require all federal actions to be reviewed for environmental and health impacts on low-income and marginalized communities. That bill would strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to go after polluters, but it would also give communities and individuals greater legal power to sue companies whose pollution has a disparate impact on communities of color.

Castro would also create a status for “climate refugees” who seek to immigrate because of climate change.

This portion of the plan also would direct Congress to invest $50 billion over 10 years to replace all lead pipes and eliminate lead in paint and soil. He also vows to reinstate and triple the Superfund tax to cover the cost of cleaning up major hazardous waste sites. 

Read more about Castro’s plan here. 

 

Booker’s “Putting People over Polluters” plan: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) would invest $3 trillion dollars by 2030 to fund a transition to a 100 percent carbon neutral economy by 2045 if he is elected president, based on a plan unveiled Tuesday. 

Central to Booker’s climate change plan is a focus on environmental justice, or what the campaign calls “putting people over polluters.” 

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“[W]e can’t move forward into a clean energy economy without righting the wrongs of decades of pollution and corporate greed in marginalized communities, and without an informed commitment to not repeating these wrongs,” it says.

His plan includes a $400 billion community-based investment across the U.S. to research clean energy technologies and solutions. 

It also proposes a $100 billion investment by 2030 through existing U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs to make farms more climate resilient. 

Booker would also take executive action to reverse many of the Trump administration’s moves, including reinstating and strengthening Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for fuel economy, revoking Trump’s orders to approve the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline and rejoining the Paris climate agreement. 

Read more about Booker’s plan here. 

 

ICYMI… THE CLIMATE FIGHT AMONG 2020 DEMS: Ten Democratic presidential contenders will make the case for their respective climate agendas Wednesday when they compete for the title of top environmental candidate.

The seven-hour forum on CNN, with each participant speaking separately, will offer White House hopefuls the chance to emerge as the leading supporter of environmental defense and climate action in the wake of Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeThe Hill’s Morning Report – US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall Democrats to duke it out for top climate candidate title The Hill’s Morning Report — Hurricane headed for Florida changes Trump’s travel plans MORE‘s withdrawal from the 2020 race. The Democratic governor’s platform was almost exclusively centered on combating climate change.

 

Why it matters: Snagging the environmental mantle could help lesser-known candidates distinguish themselves from the crowded field, especially as climate change surges as a key voting issue for Democrats.

 

And green groups will be watching: “There is definitely now an opening with Inslee not in the race anymore for someone to really step up and kind of be the loudest voice on climate,” said Craig Auster of the League of Conservation Voters.

“What we want to see is plans that match what the science is telling us needs to happen, in terms of the pace and scale,” he added.

“We’re wanting to see what candidates are going to do day one to tackle the climate crisis and how bold they’ll be on climate action,” said Jenny Marienau, political campaign manager with 350.org, a group that advocates for clean energy.

More on the high stakes for Democrats on climate here.

 

SANDERS SAYS DORIAN HAS ‘EVERYTHING TO DO’ WITH CLIMATE CHANGE: White House hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLuther Campbell changes his tune on Kamala Harris Sanders spokeswoman says forthcoming immigration plan shaped by DACA recipients Bernie spokeswoman previews Bernie’s immigration plan MORE (I-Vt.) on Tuesday directly linked Hurricane Dorian with climate change, lambasting the fossil fuel industry for its contribution to the climate crisis.

“The fossil fuel industry is now the equivalent of the tobacco industry. It creates death and destruction, then spends billions denying its responsibility,” the Vermont lawmaker tweeted.

“Let us be clear: Hurricane Dorian has everything to do with climate change, which is the existential crisis of our time,” he added.

Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm on Sunday, with five confirmed deaths so far. The storm is now heading to the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, with strong winds and heavy rains expected to batter the region.

Read more on Sanders comments here.

 

And more on Dorian…

-Trump says US is ‘sending crews’ to help Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

-Dramatic footage shows Dorian’s destruction in the Bahamas

-ABC reporter: ‘It’s pure hell’ in Dorian-devastated Bahamas

-Hurricane Dorian weakens slightly but expands in size, putting Florida, Georgia and Carolinas at risk, The Washington Post reports. 

  

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-Prince Harry launches initiative to tackle travel industry’s impact on climate, we report.

-Denmark moves to ban harmful PFAS chemicals in food packaging, HuffPost reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Tuesday and over the weekend…

-Democrats to duke it out for top climate candidate title

-Ethanol fight divides key groups in Trump’s base

-Booker unveils $3T climate plan

-Castro releases climate plan

-Sanders: ‘Hurricane Dorian has everything to do with climate change’

-EPA argues its blog isn’t public information, won’t change post

-Brazil’s Bolsonaro will miss UN summit addressing Amazon fires to prepare for surgery

 

FROM THE HILL’S OPINION PAGES:

-Winning the politics of the climate crisis

-Human-centered plastics recycling interventions can help combat climate change

 

Updated at 7:24 p.m.

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