Trump begins his assault on Obama’s climate policy
On Tuesday President Trump signed an executive order “On Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” which (1) calls for an immediate “review [of] existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources” and (2) rescinds a number of Obama-era regulations and reports on the impacts of climate change and the “social cost of carbon.” The report also lifts the moratorium on leasing federal lands for coal industry use. Notably absent was any reference to the Paris Climate Agreement, which a senior White House official said “is still under discussion.”
The announcement included comments from Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy, Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the EPA, and Vice President Pence.
At Vox, Brad Plumer provides an in-depth explanation of the executive order and explores the impacts it will have, concluding that it “can’t halt all climate progress…thanks to market forces and policies that Trump can’t really touch.”
Congress votes to repeal Internet privacy rules that never went into effect
Following the Senate, the House has voted to repeal an Obama-era regulation “that would have required Internet service providers — like Comcast, Verizon and Charter — to get consumers' permission before selling their data.” The rule, which had yet to take effect, would not have applied to Google and Facebook, which are regulated under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – a major point of contention from the ISPs, which are regulated under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) claimed that giving the FCC and FTC jurisdiction over different parts of the Internet “create[s] confusion within the Internet ecosystem and end[s] up harming consumers.” The FCC’s chairman, Ajit Pai, agreed, claiming the regulation “picked winners and losers.”
A handful of Republican lawmakers voted against the repeal, and as AOL reports, many typically pro-Trump spaces on the Internet are calling on the president to veto the bill.
Sessions threatens ‘sanctuary cities’
In a press conference on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s intention to withhold billions of dollars in federal funding from “sanctuary cities” that refuse to comply with immigration law. The city of Seattle sued the administration following the announcement, claiming Sessions’ “threat” was illegal and unconstitutional.
The Editors of the National Review explain why “It is entirely appropriate for the federal government to make law-enforcement funding conditional on jurisdictions not themselves ignoring the law.”
This week in Russia
Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn offered to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in exchange for immunity. In a statement Thursday, Flynn’s lawyer said that Flynn “certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it.”
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor, will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding meetings he held with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, a Russian state bank.
Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has come under intense scrutiny for his actions last week in “disclosing the existence of a foreign surveillance warrant during a press conference.” Nunes’s behavior and contradictory public remarks regarding what he actually knows and secret meetings he’s held with White House staff have led to calls for his recusal, from both House and Senate members: Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has called Nunes’s actions “loopy” and “bizarre”, and Jackie Speier, another member, went futher, calling for him to resign and claiming she doesn’t trust him.
Newsweek reports that, according to two unnamed sources, FBI Director James Comey was prepared in the summer of 2016 to write an op-ed revealing the investigation into Russia’s attempt at tampering with the election, but White House officials nixed the idea.
After witnessing the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the links between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign devolve into partisan discord, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the ranking Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Intelligence Committee held a joint press conference to pledge a bipartisan investigation in the Senate.
In a move meant to check Russia’s growing influence in the Balkan region, the Senate voted 97-2 to allow Montenegro into NATO. The vote came after the Trump administration urged the Senate to vote in favor of Montenegro’s admission, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson writing in a letter to Senate leaders that the move would be “strongly in the interests of the United States.” According to the Washington Post, Montenegro officials claimed that “pro-Russia factions attempted to stage a coup last October during parliamentary elections.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May formally initiated Britain’s exit from the European Union in a letter to EU Council President…Trump’s approval rating hit new low: just 36% of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance after health care debacle, according to Gallup…Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to pass legislation that would allow states to restrict federal funding to Planned Parenthood…North Carolina has repealed portions of it’s controversial “bathroom bill”.
above image: gage skidmore / flickr