Overnight Energy: Fish and Wildlife Service to review allegations over Trump Jr.'s Mongolian hunting trip | Groups challenge EPA decision on slaughterhouse rules | Greenpeace gives Bloomberg D-plus on climate

OH SHOOT: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will look into an accusation of possible wrongdoing by Donald Trump Jr. after it was reported that he killed a rare sheep during a recent trip to Mongolia. 

Following a letter from a conservation group requesting an investigation into whether Trump’s actions violated laws, a FWS spokesperson told The Hill in an email that the agency was “in the process of reviewing this matter.”

The review and letter come after ProPublica reported that the president’s son shot and killed an argali sheep in Mongolia and was retroactively given a hunting permit from the Mongolian government.

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A spokesperson for Trump Jr. denied accusations of wrongdoing in a statement to CQ Roll Call, which previously reported the review. 

“Mr. Trump paid for his trip to Mongolia on his own, flew commercial and timely applied and secured all required permits through a third party outfitter — as is standard in the industry,” the spokesperson said.

The Center for Biological Diversity last week wrote to FWS to alert the agency of “potential legal violations associated with this trophy hunt” and request an investigation. 

“We urge you to ensure that the protections in place for argali — including from hunters and poachers — are enforced and special access is not provided for wealthy, white hunters from the West, even if their father is the U.S. president,” the group wrote. 

The Palm Beach Post reported that Mongolian officials visited President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublican group targets Graham in ad calling for fair Senate trial Democratic presidential candidates react to Trump impeachment: ‘No one is above the law’ Trump attacks Schumer at fiery rally in Michigan MORE‘s Mar-a-Lago resort before giving his son the permit.

Read the full story here. 

 

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It’s Impeachment Wednesday. Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. (Click here to watch the impeachment debate live, and check back at TheHill.com tonight for the latest on the vote and President Trump’s Michigan rally.

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SLAUGHTERHOUSE 12: A dozen environmental and animal rights groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision not to update regulations that limit how much pollution from slaughterhouses can flow into rivers.  

In October, the agency announced it would not revise federal water standards for plants that discharge their processed wastewater directly into waterways, something critics say puts rivers at risk of being overwhelmed by nitrogen, spurring algae blooms that suffocate fish as well as plant life needed to keep rivers healthy.

The suit asks for judicial review of the decision to not update regulations that were last revised about 15 years ago and date back decades.

“Some of EPA’s technological requirements for slaughterhouses date from the mid-1970s. Technology has changed a lot since then, and EPA needs to catch up,” said Alexis Andiman with Earthjustice, one of the attorneys for the suit. “EPA’s failure to update pollution standards for slaughterhouses is illegal–and it allows a major industry to continue cutting corners at the expense of communities and the environment.”

The suit was filed on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Project, Food & Water Watch and the Humane Society of the United States, among others. 

The EPA said it would not comment on the pending litigation.

“EPA’s national standards for water pollution from slaughterhouses are either weak and outdated or nonexistent,” Sylvia Lam, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, said in a statement. “It is well past time for EPA to crack down on this public health hazard. Cleaner plants have already installed technology to lessen the pollution they send into their local rivers and streams. By not updating these nationwide standards, EPA is rewarding dirty slaughterhouses at the expense of the public.”

The suit follows a move from the EPA in June to weaken reporting requirements for major farms to document pollution from animal waste.

Across many industrial farms in the U.S., animal waste is collected and stored in open pits often called lagoons. As the manure decomposes it emits ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which are linked to respiratory issues and other health problems.

People who live near farms have long complained of the odor, but they also attribute asthma, headaches, nausea and a stinging sensation in their lungs to farm pollution. But farms have called the reporting requirements onerous.

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Read more here. 

 

WE’RE NOT MAD, WE’RE JUST DISAPPOINTED: Environmental group Greenpeace has given former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergDemocratic presidential candidates react to Trump impeachment: ‘No one is above the law’ Overnight Energy: Fish and Wildlife Service to review allegations over Trump Jr.’s Mongolian hunting trip | Groups challenge EPA decision on slaughterhouse rules | Greenpeace gives Bloomberg D-plus on climate Bloomberg attacks Biden’s experience: ‘He’s never been the manager of an organization’ MORE‘s climate plan a D-plus grade, saying it does not have detailed targets and doesn’t set an agenda for phasing out the fossil fuel industry. 

Bloomberg, who became a late entrant into the Democratic presidential race in November, said at the time that combatting climate change would be one of his top priorities. 

Greenpeace, however, said that the candidate’s newly released climate plan has “too many holes.”

Bloomberg’s plan aims to move the country toward a 100 percent “clean-energy economy-wide future” by 2050, cut emissions by 50 percent before 2030 and achieve 80 percent clean electricity by the end of his second term in office.

To do this, he has proposed measures such as replacing coal plants with clean energy and setting carbon and pollution limits on new power plants.

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Greenpeace USA senior climate campaigner Jack Shapiro said in a statement that he believes Bloomberg’s plan “has too many holes to be taken seriously” but expressed optimism that the billionaire could release more climate proposals in the coming weeks. 

“Based on his priorities both as Mayor of New York City and as a philanthropist, we expect to see more plans for climate action coming from the Bloomberg campaign. With just weeks until the first votes are cast, he must release them quickly to have any real credibility on climate in the 2020 race,” Shapiro said.

Antha Williams, senior campaign adviser on climate, energy and environment for Bloomberg, told The Hill in an email that Greenpeace’s score is based on “incomplete information” and said the candidate would soon release more proposals.

“In the coming weeks, Mike will release several policy proposals on a range of climate issues that impact Americans… informed by Mike’s extensive environmental advocacy — which is unmatched among the current presidential candidates,” Williams said.

Greenpeace has rated Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocratic presidential candidates react to Trump impeachment: ‘No one is above the law’ Overnight Energy: Fish and Wildlife Service to review allegations over Trump Jr.’s Mongolian hunting trip | Groups challenge EPA decision on slaughterhouse rules | Greenpeace gives Bloomberg D-plus on climate Saagar Enjeti dismisses new Biden campaign ad as ‘Hillary Clinton 2.0’ MORE (I-Vt.) the best on climate, giving him an A-plus, followed by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocratic presidential candidates react to Trump impeachment: ‘No one is above the law’ Trump invokes son Barron while attacking Warren at rally Overnight Energy: Fish and Wildlife Service to review allegations over Trump Jr.’s Mongolian hunting trip | Groups challenge EPA decision on slaughterhouse rules | Greenpeace gives Bloomberg D-plus on climate MORE (D-Mass.) with an A and businessman Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerOvernight Energy: Fish and Wildlife Service to review allegations over Trump Jr.’s Mongolian hunting trip | Groups challenge EPA decision on slaughterhouse rules | Greenpeace gives Bloomberg D-plus on climate Donald Glover to hold campaign event with Andrew Yang Buttigieg slips in new national poll MORE with an A-minus. 

Bloomberg has advocated for limiting the impacts of climate change.

He has given funding to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which aims to help transition the U.S. away from coal energy. He is also a leader of America’s Pledge, a coalition of states, cities and businesses that try to keep their emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

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Read more here. 

 

THE US IS LIABLE: A federal judge has found that the federal government is liable for some damage related to Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas and Louisiana in 2017, causing severe flooding.

Judge Charles Lettow determined Tuesday that the government must compensate people for flooding caused by the Army Corps of Engineers’ reservoir management following the storm. 

The George W. Bush appointee ruled that storing excess water on plaintiffs’s property amounted to “taking” it, meaning the government owed them compensation. 

“The evidence markedly shows that pools of this size and the attendant flooding of private property were, at a minimum, objectively foreseeable,” Lettow wrote. “Thus, Harvey’s magnitude does not exculpate the government of liability for its actions.”

More on the ruling here. 

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-US among top 10 countries for pollution-related deaths, new study shows, The Guardian reports.

-Australia endures hottest day in its history, we report.

-California judge approves $24.5B in settlements for wildfire victims, insurers, we report.

-A coal baron funded climate denial as his company spiraled into bankruptcy, The New York Times reports.

 

ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday…

Fish and Wildlife Service to review allegations surrounding Trump Jr.’s Mongolian hunting trip

A dozen groups challenge EPA decision to leave slaughterhouse regulations untouched

Greenpeace gives Bloomberg a D-plus on climate

Judge finds US liable for damages incurred during Hurricane Harvey

Australia endures hottest day in its history

California judge approves $24.5B in settlements for wildfire victims, insurers

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