Trump Exits Climate Pact And Leaves America To Stand Alone (Editorial)

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‘FAKE NEWS’ PART OF GRID ATTACK WARGAMES: “Fake news” is being used this year in a two-day exercise on protecting the power grid, called GridEx, said officials with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the host group for the federal and utility industry.

“On the exercise side, we are able to create news stories, and participants themselves are also able to inject messages, tweet updates,” said NERC Vice President Marcus Sachs on a call Thursday with reporters. “And we have had some reaction from members questioning whether what they are seeing is accurate, questioning whether ... and using the words ‘is this fake news?’”

Officials explicitly said that fake news officially entered the GridEx “lexicon” this year.

The GridEx IV cyber attack exercise is going into its second day Thursday. It is a realistic wargame meant to test federal and utility industry response to an attack on the electricity system.

It uses social media and simulated news updates to confuse participates, upping the realism during the attack simulation.

BREAKING THE GRID IS THE GOAL: The departments of Homeland Security and Energy are trying to “break” the power grid as part of the series of wargame exercises meant to simulate real-life physical and cyber attacks on the nation’s energy lifeline.

Federal and industry officials briefed reporters Thursday morning on the exercise. Compared to prior years, they were much more guarded on the details and scenarios that threatened the grid in this year’s exercise.

The goal of this year’s exercise was to smash the grid and stress even the most prepared utilities, said Tom Fanning, CEO at Southern Co., co-chairman of a public-private group participating in the GridEx IV exercise.

“It is to break the system ... to test the friction points” between the energy sectors, finance, and telecommunications, Fanning said on a call with reporters.

Patricia Hoffman of the Department of Energy and Chris Krebs of the Department of Homeland Security participated in the exercise with FBI and the Department of Defense.

The grid exercise will “help improve our coordination” between federal and industry partners on “response plans and capability.”

Krebs said Homeland Security wants to use the exercise to put to the test federal planning used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to a cybersecurity attack.

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TRUMP PICK FOR EPA CHEMICAL SAFETY POST IMPERILED: North Carolina’s two Republican senators said late Wednesday they oppose Michael Dourson, Trump’s pick to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency, which imperils his nomination. He can afford to lose only two Republicans and be approved.

Industry ties: Dourson, a toxicologist and University of Cincinnati professor, has been criticized by Democrats and environmentalists for his ties to the chemical industry, which he would be expected to regulate.

Dourson founded a consulting group that represented companies that produced chemicals now under EPA review for their public health risks.

Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis share those concerns, too.

‘Not best choice’: “I will not be supporting the nomination of Michael Dourson,” Burr said, first >reported by the Wilmington Star News. “With his record and our state’s history of contamination at Camp Lejeune as well as the current GenX water issues in Wilmington, I am not confident he is the best choice for our country.”

In a statement, Tillis’ office said, “Senator Tillis still has serious concerns about his record and cannot support his nomination.”

Nomination in trouble: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has voted to advance Dourson’s nomination, but he is not scheduled for a floor vote.

Just one more Republican defection would derail his nomination, assuming all Democrats oppose him. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is also planning to vote against Dourson, according to the Intercept.

Dourson already is working at the EPA as a senior adviser to Pruitt, to the consternation of many Democrats, who say that violates the law.

AT LEAST 15 NATIONS FORM PACT TO BAN COAL BY 2030: At least 15 countries participating in the United Nations-led climate change talks in Bonn, Germany, have formed an international alliance to phase out coal before 2030.

The countries joining the Power Past Coal Alliance include: The United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Chile, Mexico and the Marshall Islands, >according to Reuters,

Big coal users avoid pact: But many of the world’s biggest coal users, such as the U.S., China, Germany and Russia, have not signed on.

The reach of the pact is limited because the countries that joined the alliance represented less than 3 percent of global coal consumption in 2016.

Meanwhile, Trump team promotes ‘clean’ coal: The announcement comes days after a Trump administration held an event in Bonn promoting the “clean” use of coal and nuclear power.

On Thursday, a top U.S. State Department diplomat is scheduled to give a speech at the climate change summit, which is meant as a forum for countries to shore up their commitment to the Paris climate change agreement. The Trump administration plans to exit the agreement in 2020, becoming the only nation to not commit to it.

Judith Garber, the acting assistant secretary for oceans, environment and science at the State Department, will give the U.S. address.

FRANCE’S MACRON PRESSES EUROPE TO ‘REPLACE AMERICA’ IN CLIMATE FUNDING: French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday challenged Europe to “replace America” in financing the UN climate change science body.

Macron, in an address at the Bonn conference, promised to replace the $2 million annual donation withdrawn by the Trump administration from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Science ‘threatened’ by U.S. funding gap: “We need scientific information which is constantly nourished to ensure clear decision making,” Macron said. “The IPCC is one of the major components of this work. However, it is threatened today by the decision of the US not to guarantee funding for it. Therefore, I propose that the EU replaces the USA, and France will meet that challenge.”

PUSHBACK MOUNTS AGAINST TRUMP MONUMENT DECISION AHEAD OF UTAH VISIT: Ahead of a major business rally next weekend, rural businesses and chambers of commerce will begin upping pressure on President Trump to “leave national monuments alone” beginning Thursday to protect their regions’ incomes.

The president is expected to travel to Utah in early December to announce his decision on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendations to shrink the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, created by President Bill Clinton, and the Bears Ears monument, created by former President Barack Obama a month before he left office.

Zinke’s recommendations have drawn outrage, partly because of the lack of transparency in not releasing them to the public. Leaked drafts of the recommendations showed major changes to the monuments, which a number of groups say would harm public land and the regional economies that rely on them.

The rallies: A number of chamber of commerce presidents will assemble at noon Thursday to voice their opposition to altering the national monuments and the harm it would do to their businesses.

Later Thursday, environmentalists plan to oppose what they call an assault on public lands by rallying outside of congressional offices.

The Center for Biological Diversity wants to build opposition to legislation sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, that would overhaul the Antiquities Act, which gives the president authority to designate national monuments.

Arizona’s McSally targeted: Arizona residents will begin protests outside of Rep. Martha McSally’s office in Tucson. They want McSally, a Republican, to stand up to Bishop and renounce support for the bill.

“McSally seems to recognize the economic value and scenic beauty of Arizona’s public lands. If she truly values these treasured landscapes, she’ll vote against Bishop’s dangerous bill,” said Ryan Beam, public lands activist for the Center for Biological Diversity, a major conservation group. “McSally needs to take a stand against this unprecedented attack on America’s public lands.”

McSally is planning to hike the 800-mile Arizona Trail, which will take her through federal public lands like Saguaro and Grand Canyon national parks. “As she hikes the beautiful landscapes that her district and the state hold, we hope she’ll consider the damage that a ‘yes’ vote on H.R. 3990 would do,” Beam said.

TRUMP LOOKS TO PERMIT ELEPHANT HUNTS: The Trump administration is planning to begin >issuing permits for elephant trophy hunting, despite the Obama administration's decision to ban elephant ivory and tusks from being imported into the U.S.

A Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed to >ABC News that it will begin issuing permits for hunters to import their elephant trophies into the U.S. from Africa. The Endangered Species Act has an exception that allows the federal agency to issue hunting permits even though the elephant is listed as a protected species. The elephant has been listed as "threatened" since 1978 under the law, >according to the agency.

FERC MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: Look out for the 2017 Report on Enforcement coming out of Thursday’s public meeting at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Also on the agenda is a major pipeline decision for the Millennium Pipeline Co. and the release of new standards for protecting critical systems during power outages.

WIND INDUSTRY MAKES LAST PUSH TO SWAY HOUSE ON TAX BREAKS: More than 200 companies in the wind industry are making a last-ditch effort to sway the House to remove a provision in their tax reform plan that would cut a major wind tax credit by one-third.

The companies >sent a letter Wednesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other top lawmakers, asking them to keep the tax credit intact.

‘Flawed:’ “We support the goal of making America a better place to do business, and this retroactive rule change runs counter to that,” wrote Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Every day that goes by until this flawed House language is fixed reduces business for American workers and factories.”

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday afternoon on the tax bill.

Senate defends wind: Senate Republicans left the wind credit alone in their version of the tax reform bill.

MANCHIN WARNED TRUMP ABOUT MOVING TOO FAST, TOO SOON: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of the coal state of West Virginia warned the Trump administration against moving too fast, too soon on rolling back environmental rules or risk a similar backlash as the Obama administration.

"I’ve told this administration, I think the Obama administration was a far reach,” >Manchin told an energy forum Wednesday. "If you retract, you'll have as much pushback retracting too far as they did overreaching too far."

PRUITT ANNOUNCES EPA LEADER FOR NEW ENGLAND: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Thursday said he is appointing Alexandra Dunn to lead EPA’s Region 1, which covers Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Dunn currently serves as executive director and general counsel for the Environmental Council of States.

Help Pruitt’s ‘positive’ agenda: “Not only has she spent the last several years developing effective environmental policies for our state partners, but has also helped shape a number of aspiring environmental lawyers at one of the nation’s leading environmental law programs,” Pruitt said. “Her service to others will be key to helping implement this administration’s positive environmental agenda for our Northeast region.”

Point of contention: Dunn has been a vocal opponent of Trump's proposed 31 percent EPA budget cut, >saying earlier this year that “it is extremely unlikely that states would be able to make up the funding.”

SENATE APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL NOMINEE TO LEAD MINE SAFETY AGENCY: The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Trump’s nomination of David Zatezalo >to run the federal mine safety agency.

Zatezalo was approved 52-46 on a party-line vote to be assistant secretary of labor for mine safety at the Mine Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor.

History of safety violations: Rhino Resources, under Zatezalo’s leadership, was accused by the same agency he is set to lead of having a history of safety violations.

Zatezalo is the latest in a trend of Trump administration appointees who are former industry officials now tasked with regulating their former colleagues.

DURBIN ENDS BLOCKADE OF INTERIOR NOMINEES: Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Wednesday lifted a hold on two Interior Department nominees, which he had placed to protest Zinke’s review of scaling back national monuments.

Durbin and other senators met Tuesday with Zinke, where the Interior secretary described his reasoning for recommending that Trump reduce the size of some national monuments out West. Trump is expected to announce his decisions on those recommendations next month.

Who’s being considered: Durbin lifted his hold on Joseph Balash's nomination to be assistant secretary for land and minerals management and also will lift his hold on Brenda Burman to lead Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, a spokesman told Politico.

Long wait: Zinke had expressed his frustrations about the holds in a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

“These nominees have been forced to wait significantly longer than either the Obama or Bush administration’s first-term nominees,” Zinke said.

TRUMP TO NOMINATE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY LOBBYIST FOR TOP ENERGY JOB: Trump plans to nominate Melissa Burnison, a nuclear energy industry lobbyist, to serve as assistant secretary in charge of congressional and intergovernmental affairs at the Energy Department, the White House said Wednesday.

Her resume: Burnison is director of federal programs for the Nuclear Energy Institute, “where she plans, directs and executes legislative strategies for nuclear energy programs and policies on behalf of the nuclear energy industry,” the White House said. Before that, she was a senior adviser at the Energy Department and at the House Natural Resources Committee.

SENATE PANEL ADVANCES BILL TO ALLOW DRILLING IN ARCTIC REFUGE: Republicans are closer than ever to achieving a long-pursued goal after the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday >advanced legislation to allow oil and natural gas drilling in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The vote was 13-10 along party lines. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only Democrat to support the bill.

Drill baby, drill: Murkowski’s legislation would permit drilling in a 1.5 million-acre section of the 19.6-million-acre Alaskan refuge, with the expectation that energy development there will raise just over $1 billion over 10 years.

Process matters: Republicans are considering the bill under budget reconciliation, meaning it is not subject to a Senate filibuster and can pass with a simple majority.

The bill now heads to Senate Budget Committee to be combined with the tax reform legislation.

Murkowski in a bind: Murkowski’s commitment to pursuing energy development in ANWR will be tested now that Republicans are planning to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate penalties as part of their tax reform legislation. Murkowski voted down Obamacare repeal this summer.

Under the process Republicans are using, the move to allow drilling in ANWR can’t advance unless tax reform does.

RUNDOWN

>Wall Street Journal How companies are pushing ahead on climate-change targets

>Washington Post This group thinks Trump hasn’t done enough to unravel environmental rules. Here’s its wish list.

>Bloomberg Trump climate exit panned in Bonn but cheered in Lordstown, Ohio

>Reuters Tesla to unveil electric big-rig truck in midst of Model 3 factory 'hell'

>New York Times As power grid sputters in Puerto Rico, business does too

>Washington Post These are the melting glaciers that might someday drown your city, according to NASA

Calendar

THURSDAY, NOV. 16

9 a.m., 1301 K St. NW. The Washington Post Live holds a discussion on "A World in Balance: Solutions for Sustainability," focusing on "new approaches for a sustainable future and the relationship between humans and the environment." Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, now vice president for environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple, will speak.

>washingtonpost.com/post-live-2017-world-in-balance/?utm_term=.cee19fa7e418  

All day, Colorado. The Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy holds its annual Program Review, through Nov. 17, as an opportunity for Indian tribes to meet, learn from other Indian tribes that are pursuing energy self-sufficiency, and share in each other's successes.

>energy.gov/indianenergy/events/2017-office-indian-energy-program-review  

 

Source : http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/daily-on-energy-fake-news-being-used-in-grid-wargames/article/2176998

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