Trump appointee has a long history of bigoted rhetoric

Right-wing columnist William C. Bradford has a history of bigoted tweets, writings.

CREDIT: Media Matters/Twitter

According to reporting by both the Washington Post and Media Matters for America, Trump administration appointee William C. Bradford — former attorney general of the Chiricahua Apache Nation and right-wing columnist — has a long history of bigoted tweets and columns, including tweets questioning transgender and gender-nonconforming identity as a “mental illness” and columns calling for a second U.S. Civil War.

Bradford was appointed by President Donald Trump to run the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy, the office that awards grants to indigenous communities for energy development and capacity building. The appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

Dino Grandoni of the Washington Post reported on Bradford’s history of tweeting “disparaging remarks” about the “real and imagined ethnic, religious and gender identities” of everyone from former President Barack Obama to NBC reporter Megyn Kelly.

Bradford called Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg a “little arrogant self-hating Jew” and referred to Obama as “a Kenyan creampuff.”

CREDIT: Washington Post/Twitter

Since Grandoni’s reporting was published, Media Matters uncovered more instances of hateful tweets and columns written by Bradford, including two instances where Bradford suggested that a second U.S. civil war might be necessary if Democrats were elected to the White House.

In January 2016, Bradford wrote in his column on Communities Digital News — an online site that was a part of the Washington Times until 2014 — that if Hillary Clinton were elected in the 2016 presidential election, “a second U.S. Civil War may be necessary to pull up the roots Communism has sunk deep into our soil.” In 2015, he also wrote that only through committing to “limited government, a traditional understanding of the Constitution, and a relearning of the concept of the ‘enemy’” could the United States “ensure that Americans never suffer the hell of civil war again.”

Bradford also called Clinton “may be [sic] the most godless person in D.C.” He also wrote that putting women in combat “is a deliberate act of national self-destruction and a gift to our enemies.”

Bradford also tweeted transphobic and Islamophobic rhetoric, Media Matters reports, questioning whether transgender and gender-nonconforming identity counts as a “mental illness” and saying, “imagine a world without Islam.”

CREDIT: Media Matters/Twitter

Following the Washington Post’s reporting, Bradford issued a written apology for his statements.

“As a minority and member of the Jewish faith, I sincerely apologize for my disrespectful and offensive comments,” he wrote. “These comments are inexcusable and I do not stand by them. Now, as a public servant, I hold myself to a higher standard, and I will work every day to better the lives of all Americans.”

Bradford is hardly the first Trump administration appointee with a record of bigoted comments. Senior White House adviser Steve Bannon has a history of anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and bigoted comments, and has openly disparaged women, calling them “dykes.”


Trump appointee has a long history of bigoted rhetoric was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Trump appointee has a long history of bigoted rhetoric

Right-wing columnist William C. Bradford has a history of bigoted tweets, writings.

CREDIT: Media Matters/Twitter

According to reporting by both the Washington Post and Media Matters for America, Trump administration appointee William C. Bradford — former attorney general of the Chiricahua Apache Nation and right-wing columnist — has a long history of bigoted tweets and columns, including tweets questioning transgender and gender-nonconforming identity as a “mental illness” and columns calling for a second U.S. Civil War.

Bradford was appointed by President Donald Trump to run the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy, the office that awards grants to indigenous communities for energy development and capacity building. The appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

Dino Grandoni of the Washington Post reported on Bradford’s history of tweeting “disparaging remarks” about the “real and imagined ethnic, religious and gender identities” of everyone from former President Barack Obama to NBC reporter Megyn Kelly.

Bradford called Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg a “little arrogant self-hating Jew” and referred to Obama as “a Kenyan creampuff.”

CREDIT: Washington Post/Twitter

Since Grandoni’s reporting was published, Media Matters uncovered more instances of hateful tweets and columns written by Bradford, including two instances where Bradford suggested that a second U.S. civil war might be necessary if Democrats were elected to the White House.

In January 2016, Bradford wrote in his column on Communities Digital News — an online site that was a part of the Washington Times until 2014 — that if Hillary Clinton were elected in the 2016 presidential election, “a second U.S. Civil War may be necessary to pull up the roots Communism has sunk deep into our soil.” In 2015, he also wrote that only through committing to “limited government, a traditional understanding of the Constitution, and a relearning of the concept of the ‘enemy’” could the United States “ensure that Americans never suffer the hell of civil war again.”

Bradford also called Clinton “may be [sic] the most godless person in D.C.” He also wrote that putting women in combat “is a deliberate act of national self-destruction and a gift to our enemies.”

Bradford also tweeted transphobic and Islamophobic rhetoric, Media Matters reports, questioning whether transgender and gender-nonconforming identity counts as a “mental illness” and saying, “imagine a world without Islam.”

CREDIT: Media Matters/Twitter

Following the Washington Post’s reporting, Bradford issued a written apology for his statements.

“As a minority and member of the Jewish faith, I sincerely apologize for my disrespectful and offensive comments,” he wrote. “These comments are inexcusable and I do not stand by them. Now, as a public servant, I hold myself to a higher standard, and I will work every day to better the lives of all Americans.”

Bradford is hardly the first Trump administration appointee with a record of bigoted comments. Senior White House adviser Steve Bannon has a history of anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and bigoted comments, and has openly disparaged women, calling them “dykes.”


Trump appointee has a long history of bigoted rhetoric was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

EPA accelerates purge of scientists

Members of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors were told that they would not see their tenure renewed.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Dozens of Environmental Protection Agency scientists were recently informed that their contracts would not be renewed this August, leaving a key EPA office without important scientific guidance.

According to an email sent to EPA scientists and obtained by the Washington Post, the EPA has decided not to renew the posts of any scientists working for the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC). The BOSC functions as an advisory board for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and helps the office make sure that it is using sufficiently rigorous science in its research and development programs.

“The Board of Scientific Counselors was formed to make sure the EPA does the best possible scientific work with limited taxpayer dollars,” Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement. “This independent advice is needed now more than ever. By sacking dozens of scientific counselors, Pruitt is showing that he doesn’t value scientific input and the benefits it offers the public.”

Board members are chosen by the EPA administrator, and serve three-year terms. It is customary for first-term members to receive a second three-year appointment, though reappointment is granted at the discretion of the administrator.

Scott Pruitt removes scientists from EPA advisory panels to make room for industry advocates

In May, Pruitt notified nine BOSC members to tell them that they would not be receiving a second-term when their tenure ended in August. At the time, the New York Times reported that Pruitt wanted to make space for representatives from industries — like the chemical industry, or oil and gas industry — which the EPA is charged with regulating. In an email to the Washington Post, Scott Openshaw, a spokesman for the American Chemistry Council, said that the dismissals would help address industry concerns that “EPA advisory boards did not include a diversity of views and therefore frequently presented a biased perspective on issues before them.”

The new wave of dismissals brings the total number of BOSC members who will be out of a job in August to 47, which will leave just 11 members serving on the BOSC and its five subcommittees. None of the subcommittees will have a chair or vice chair, and all committee meetings scheduled for late summer and fall have been cancelled.

“Pruitt has pulled off a devious process here: he’s signaled that he intends to dismiss experienced advisors whose terms are expiring over the next year — and he’s using the fact that he’s dismissing them to immediately block them from doing any more work,” UCS’s Kimmell said.

The Trump administration has a notably antagonistic relationship with science, from top administration officials blatantly contradicting the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change on national television to deep proposed cuts to science programs across the federal government. Under Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA has scrubbed climate science from the agency’s website, and has rejected scientific advice from its own agency scientists while issuing regulatory decisions. Pruitt is also currently being reviewed by the EPA’s Scientific Integrity Officer for his false comments about climate change made on CNBC in March.

“The decision to suspend the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors and dismiss numerous scientists from its ranks is another brazen act of disregard for science by Scott Pruitt.”

“The decision to suspend the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors and dismiss numerous scientists from its ranks is another brazen act of disregard for science by Scott Pruitt. I’m concerned that he may continue to replace scientists with industry insiders or simply leave the Board in limbo,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), told ThinkProgress via email. “Pruitt’s longstanding antipathy to the agency he leads, and its mission of protecting clean air and water, will become a greater menace to public health as he cedes more and more influence to industry at the expense of sound scientific advice.”

According to an administration official, who spoke anonymously with the Washington Post, the dismissal of BOSC scientists could just be the beginning of a larger scientific shakeup within the agency. According to the official, the administration is also looking into replacing members of the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board, a body of scientific counselors meant to provide scientific advice to the administrator.

The news of the most recent round of dismissals broke the same day as news that the EPA is planning whittle its overall workforce by more than 1,000 employees, through buyouts and early retirement.


EPA accelerates purge of scientists was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Trump’s reported pick for the number two spot at EPA is a fossil fuel lobbyist

Jeff Holmstead has spent years fighting against environmental regulations.

CREDIT: iStock

Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA official under President George W. Bush and current lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry, is the Trump administration’s top candidate for Deputy EPA Administrator, the number two position within the agency, Axios reported.

Holmstead, who has spent the last few years lobbying on behalf of some of the largest utilities and fossil fuel companies in the country, has met with Administrator Scott Pruitt, according to Axios, and has full support of the White House. Axios notes “there is no other serious contender for the job at this moment,” reporting that previous candidates, like coal lobbyist and former adviser to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) Andrew Wheeler, have fallen by the wayside.

Axios claims that Holmstead’s appointment would signal a “moderating tilt” within EPA leadership, citing mainly his history at the Bush EPA, where he “pursued regulatory reforms some in conservative circles thought weren’t big enough.” Holmstead has also expressed hesitancy at the idea of repealing the Obama administration’s 2009 endangerment finding, which found that carbon dioxide could pose a threat to public health. That finding has been used to justify numerous EPA regulations on carbon dioxide, and is a primary target of conservative climate deniers, who argue that the finding legally binds the EPA to action on climate change. Holmstead, for his part, has said that repealing the finding would not be “impossible,” but “it’s a lot harder than saying we want to move in a new policy direction.”

The Trump administration is teaming up with the new Congress for an unprecedented threat to the EPA

But Holmstead’s record should hardly been seen as proof of a potential shift towards the center at Pruitt’s EPA. For starters, one of the defining issues of Holmstead’s career has been fighting against stricter limits on mercury emissions from power plants. As assistant EPA administrator, Holmstead was major proponent of the “Clear Skies Initiative,” which would have allowed three times as much mercury as the Clean Air Act. In 2011, Holmstead argued that “the benefits of reducing mercury are very insignificant.” According to a 2016 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, however, limiting mercury pollution from power plants could save the U.S. economy $104 billion by 2050. The EPA also estimates that stricter mercury pollution controls could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year.

“There is no reason to believe Mr. Holmstead will serve as a moderating force on the extreme agenda of Trump & Scott Pruitt at EPA,” John Walke, Clean Air Director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told ThinkProgress via email. “In the Bush EPA, Mr. Holmstead loyally executed that administration’s anti-environmental agenda — and was overturned in court more than any prior or subsequent head of EPA’s air program. Holmstead also had clean air achievements, for example cleaning up dirty diesels — but the critical difference here is the Trump administration has embarked on an exclusively harmful air, water, and climate agenda.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Holmstead will join an EPA leadership that has exhibited an unprecedented antagonism towards environmental regulations, particularly any regulations promulgated by the Obama administration. Holmstead has been a vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which the Trump administration is currently in the process of repealing. In 2010, while working as a lobbyist, he co-authored a bill, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), which would have stripped the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

GOP lawmakers challenge Trump’s plan to slash EPA budget

Holmstead also has ties to the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers, serving as an adjunct scholar for Citizens for the Environment, a spin-off of the Koch-funded Citizens for a Sound Economy. According to a 2010 New Yorker investigation of the Koch brothers’ political operations, Citizens for the Environment held the position that acid rain was a “myth.”

Still, some environmental experts argue that having someone with prior experience in the agency is a positive for the administration, which has often tapped people with little to no governmental experience for leadership roles.

“What’s really needed is someone that can connect with the career staff and, from our perspective, the science staff,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told ThinkProgress. “He does have experience in the agency, he does understand the agency, and that would be a nice change from the other appointments.”

Still, Rosenberg admits, the bar has been set extremely low for Trump appointments.

“What we’re hoping for is a little professionalism, which doesn’t seem like that big of a stretch, but at this point we’ll take it,” he said.


Trump’s reported pick for the number two spot at EPA is a fossil fuel lobbyist was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Renewable energy just passed a major milestone in the United States

For the first time ever, wind and solar accounted for 10 percent of U.S. electricity generation.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

This past March, for the first time in U.S. history, more than 10 percent of all electricity generated came from wind and solar, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In 2016, solar and wind made up, on average, about seven percent of all U.S. electricity generation.

Because generation reflects the availability of resources like wind and sunlight at a given time, EIA forecasts that wind and solar generation likely exceeded 10 percent in April. Wind generation in states like Texas and Oklahoma, which account for much of the current U.S. wind capacity, tends to be highest in spring months. Solar power generation, by contrast, tends to be highest in summer months, due to the increased amount of daylight.

According to EIA, Texas accounted for the largest total amount of wind and solar generation in the United States in 2016. Most of that was from wind — Texas is by far and away the nation’s largest producer of wind energy, and has enough installed wind capacity to generate more than 18,500 megawatts, according to the EIA. Texas greatly expanded its renewable energy capacity under former Gov. Rick Perry (R), now Secretary of Energy in the Trump administration. Thus far in his tenure at the Department of Energy, however, Perry has been criticized by wind and solar advocates for working to undermine, not expand, renewable energy production.

Wind energy is setting records in the U.S. and around the world

Overall installed wind capacity — defined as the total amount of output a particular electricity generator can produce at a specific time, under specific conditions—passed hydropower in 2016 to become the largest source of renewable energy capacity in the United States. It now ranks fourth overall, behind coal, natural gas, and nuclear.

The solar industry also saw a record-breaking 2016, installing more megawatts of solar power across the United States than ever before. For the first time ever, solar power was the number one source of new generating capacity in the United States.

Renewable energy has become more widespread in recent years thanks in large part to a combination of state-level policies — like renewable standard portfolios, which require states to obtain a certain percentage of their power from non-fossil fuel sources — the declining cost of renewable technology, and tax incentives. In 2015, Congress passed a long-term extension of both the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), ensuring that both industries have some measure of tax and regulatory certainty through 2021.

Forget coal, solar will soon be cheaper than natural gas power

Still, renewable energy generation currently constitutes a fairly small sliver of actual electricity generation in the United States. The heavy-hitters remain fossil fuel-powered generation, namely natural gas and coal.

The Trump administration, for its part, has denied that it favors traditional fuel sources over renewable energy. Recently, in a hearing on Capitol Hill, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke told representatives that the administration does not “value oil and gas over alternative energies.” But the administration’s policies tell a different story; it has proposed cutting the Energy Department’s renewable and energy efficiency program by almost 70 percent, and the Energy Department is currently conducting a review of the energy grid potentially aimed at undermining renewable energy in favor of coal.

But the Trump administration’s pledge to revive the declining coal industry is likely to run into significant headwinds. According to new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the cost of renewable energy is likely to continue to drop in the coming years, making renewable energy extremely cost-competitive with fuels like coal and natural gas. As a result, BNEF estimates that U.S. coal generation will drop by 51 percent by 2040.

Renewable energy advocates argue that the falling cost of renewable energy, coupled with the shift towards clean-energy economies created by the Paris climate agreement, will create major opportunities for both investment and job creation. Under Trump, it seems unlikely that the United States — which has already voiced its intent to withdraw from the Paris agreement — will see any large push, at least from the federal level, in renewable energy investment. But the trend looks to continue globally, even without the United States: recently, China announced that it would invest $360 billion in clean energy by 2020, which they estimate will create 13 million new jobs.


Renewable energy just passed a major milestone in the United States was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Renewable energy just passed a major milestone in the United States

For the first time ever, wind and solar accounted for 10 percent of U.S. electricity generation.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

This past March, for the first time in U.S. history, more than 10 percent of all electricity generated came from wind and solar, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In 2016, solar and wind made up, on average, about seven percent of all U.S. electricity generation.

Because generation reflects the availability of resources like wind and sunlight at a given time, EIA forecasts that wind and solar generation likely exceeded 10 percent in April. Wind generation in states like Texas and Oklahoma, which account for much of the current U.S. wind capacity, tends to be highest in spring months. Solar power generation, by contrast, tends to be highest in summer months, due to the increased amount of daylight.

According to EIA, Texas accounted for the largest total amount of wind and solar generation in the United States in 2016. Most of that was from wind — Texas is by far and away the nation’s largest producer of wind energy, and has enough installed wind capacity to generate more than 18,500 megawatts, according to the EIA. Texas greatly expanded its renewable energy capacity under former Gov. Rick Perry (R), now Secretary of Energy in the Trump administration. Thus far in his tenure at the Department of Energy, however, Perry has been criticized by wind and solar advocates for working to undermine, not expand, renewable energy production.

Wind energy is setting records in the U.S. and around the world

Overall installed wind capacity — defined as the total amount of output a particular electricity generator can produce at a specific time, under specific conditions—passed hydropower in 2016 to become the largest source of renewable energy capacity in the United States. It now ranks fourth overall, behind coal, natural gas, and nuclear.

The solar industry also saw a record-breaking 2016, installing more megawatts of solar power across the United States than ever before. For the first time ever, solar power was the number one source of new generating capacity in the United States.

Renewable energy has become more widespread in recent years thanks in large part to a combination of state-level policies — like renewable standard portfolios, which require states to obtain a certain percentage of their power from non-fossil fuel sources — the declining cost of renewable technology, and tax incentives. In 2015, Congress passed a long-term extension of both the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), ensuring that both industries have some measure of tax and regulatory certainty through 2021.

Forget coal, solar will soon be cheaper than natural gas power

Still, renewable energy generation currently constitutes a fairly small sliver of actual electricity generation in the United States. The heavy-hitters remain fossil fuel-powered generation, namely natural gas and coal.

The Trump administration, for its part, has denied that it favors traditional fuel sources over renewable energy. Recently, in a hearing on Capitol Hill, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke told representatives that the administration does not “value oil and gas over alternative energies.” But the administration’s policies tell a different story; it has proposed cutting the Energy Department’s renewable and energy efficiency program by almost 70 percent, and the Energy Department is currently conducting a review of the energy grid potentially aimed at undermining renewable energy in favor of coal.

But the Trump administration’s pledge to revive the declining coal industry is likely to run into significant headwinds. According to new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the cost of renewable energy is likely to continue to drop in the coming years, making renewable energy extremely cost-competitive with fuels like coal and natural gas. As a result, BNEF estimates that U.S. coal generation will drop by 51 percent by 2040.

Renewable energy advocates argue that the falling cost of renewable energy, coupled with the shift towards clean-energy economies created by the Paris climate agreement, will create major opportunities for both investment and job creation. Under Trump, it seems unlikely that the United States — which has already voiced its intent to withdraw from the Paris agreement — will see any large push, at least from the federal level, in renewable energy investment. But the trend looks to continue globally, even without the United States: recently, China announced that it would invest $360 billion in clean energy by 2020, which they estimate will create 13 million new jobs.


Renewable energy just passed a major milestone in the United States was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Trump administration files Hail Mary appeal to derail youth climate lawsuit

Just one day after a district court denied an appeal, the administration tried again.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

On Friday, a district court in Oregon denied the Trump administration’s appeal in a climate change lawsuit, seemingly paving the way for the historic case — which pits a group of children and young adults against the federal government — to head to trial.

But just one day after U.S. Federal Judge Ann Aiken rendered her decision, the Trump administration, in an extraordinary move, filed yet another appeal, asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review Aiken’s decision to allow the case to move forward.

The petition, known as a writ of mandamus, argues that the Ninth Circuit should use its supervisory powers to “end this clearly improper attempt to have the judiciary decide important questions of energy and environmental policy to the exclusion of the elected branches of government.”

Our Children’s Trust, the nonprofit legal group behind the lawsuit, as well as legal experts described the Trump administration’s petition as “drastic” and “extraordinary.”

“Mandamus of this sort is truly extraordinary and rarely granted,” Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert and soon-to-be dean of Berkeley Law, told ThinkProgress via email. “The strong presumption in federal courts, reaffirmed by the Supreme Court as recently as yesterday, is that appellate courts don’t get involved until the trial court proceedings are completed.”

The Trump administration really doesn’t want this climate lawsuit to go to trial

The decision whether or not to review the District Court’s decision — and, ultimately, whether to overturn its decision allowing the case to move forward — will reside with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the case moves to trial, attorneys for the plaintiffs will attempt to apply the doctrine of public trust — which holds that the U.S. government must preserve certain commonly-held elements — to the atmosphere, arguing that the U.S. government is failing to hold the atmosphere in good health for future generations. Attorneys for the plaintiffs will also argue that the U.S. government has violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights to a livable climate through certain policies, like fossil fuel subsidies, which favor the burning of fossil fuels that lead to global warming.

The lawsuit was initially filed in August of 2015, and named the Obama administration as a defendant. When Donald Trump took office in January, plaintiffs filed for the Trump administration to be named as a defendant. The Trump administration then filed an appeal of Aiken’s decision to allow the case to move forward, arguing that the case centers on a political question best left to the legislative and executive branches of government.

That appeal was denied last week, after which the administration filed a petition for writ of mandamus.

“The U.S. government is trying to use every possible tool they can to avoid trial,” Julia Olson​, co-lead counsel for plaintiffs, said in a press statement. “Because they know applying the law to the facts and science in this case will mean certain defeat for them at trial. If the Trump administration was at all confident it could defend itself at trial, it would be preparing for trial.”

The U.S. District Court of Oregon, meanwhile, is still deciding whether or not to allow three fossil fuel groups, which had intervened as defendants in the case, to withdraw from the lawsuit. The American Petroleum Institute (API), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) — all major trade groups representing fossil fuel and manufacturing interests — filed motions to withdraw from the case just before a court-imposed deadline would have forced them to state their positions on climate science.


Trump administration files Hail Mary appeal to derail youth climate lawsuit was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Trump marks Pride by praising leaders of homophobic groups

The president decided to speak to anti-LGBTQ groups this week.

President Donald Trump listens during a news conference with Romania’s President Klaus Werner Iohannis in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 9, 2017. CREDIT: AP/Susan Walsh

During LGBTQ Pride Month, an annual celebration that the White House refuses to recognize alongside “National Homeownership Month,” the president attended a conference supported by homophobic groups.

The president attended the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference on Friday, where he said he would “promote and protect family values” and “ protect religious liberty in America.” The Faith and Freedom Coalition is an anti-LGBTQ group that vocally opposes same-sex marriage, and has even joined a campaign against gay Boy Scouts of America leaders, in the name of their interpretation of the Bible.

During his speech, Trump praised Ralph Reed, founder and chair of the FFC, and Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, two homophobes whose histories of anti-LGBTQ remarks are well-documented. Focus on the Family is opposed to same-sex marriage, calls homosexuality “preventable and treatable,” and promotes ex-gay therapy.

To Reed, Trump said, “In just a few years, you’ve helped turn a small organization into a really nationwide, beautiful movement. Really, so true. And what you have achieved is extraordinary.”

Reed, who said he would be interested in becoming Trump’s campaign manager in 2012, according to reporting from BuzzFeed, once said there was “irrefutable” scientific evidence against same-sex parents. He claimed kids raised by same-sex parents are “five times more likely to end up in poverty. And they’re three times more likely to end up addicted to drugs and alcohol.” His claims are false. In 2013, Reed also said the federal government should stop giving grants to the National Cathedral because it performed same-sex weddings.

To Dobson, Trump said, “I also want to congratulate Dr. Dobson and his wife, Shirley, who was with me at the beginning of the campaign… So in advance on that recognition, James, and for everything they have both done to keep the ‘Focus on the Family.’ I just want to congratulate you. It’s just so amazing.”

Trump is greenlighting the harassment of transgender kids

In his 2001 book Bringing up Boys Dobson called homosexuality a “disorder,” and wrote, “Who among us would knowingly choose a path that would result in alienation from family, rejection by friends, disdain from the heterosexual world, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis, and even a shorter lifespan?”

He also criticized a Colorado bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing. “Henceforth, every woman and little girl will have to fear that a predator, bisexual, cross-dresser or even a homosexual or heterosexual male might walk in and relieve himself in their presence,” he said in a written statement.

Of course, Trump’s support of far-right, anti-LGBTQ Christian groups shouldn’t come as a surprise. He chose a virulently anti-LGBTQ politician as his vice president. He tapped a man for HUD secretary who called LGBTQ protections “extra rights” and a woman for education secretary who said she believes it is not the department of education’s job to look out for LGBTQ students who face discrimination. In the past few months, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to no longer count LGBTQ people in surveys that help identify health disparities LGBTQ people face, and the Justice Department filed a motion suggesting it may scrap a rule protecting trans and nonbinary people from discrimination in health care settings.

During his campaign, Trump tried to portray himself as sympathetic to the needs of LGBTQ Americans by commenting on the mass murder of LGBTQ people, who were mostly people of color, in an Orlando nightclub. Those same remarks were also very anti-immigration. Last year, Trump made comments about how trans people should be able to use the bathroom without interference from anyone. But his support of anti-LGBTQ groups and his administration’s failure to do anything to improve the lives of LGBTQ people prove that the Trump administration does not support LGBTQ rights, and will continue to erode them.


Trump marks Pride by praising leaders of homophobic groups was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Federal judge denies Trump administration appeal in youth climate lawsuit

Looks like the historic lawsuit is headed to trial.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

A federal judge has denied the Trump administration’s appeal in a climate change lawsuit, paving the way for the unprecedented suit to go to trial.

The case — Juliana v. United States — pits a group of youth climate plaintiffs against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The plaintiffs allege that the federal government, through its actions and coordination with the fossil fuel industry, have violated their constitutional right to a livable climate. It is the first climate lawsuit to rely on a version of the public trust doctrine — known as atmospheric trust — to make its case, and adds to a growing number of attempts to force climate action through the judicial branch.

The lawsuit was initially filed in August of 2015, against the Obama administration. The Obama administration — joined by three fossil fuel industry groups as intervenors — filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, which was denied in November by U.S. Federal Judge Ann Aiken. In February, after President Donald Trump was sworn in, the youth plaintiffs filed notice with the court that they would be replacing Obama with Trump.

Children’s climate lawsuit to Donald Trump: See you in court

Following that notice, the Trump administration, again joined by fossil fuel intervenors, filed a motion to appeal Aiken’s decision to let the trial move forward. The administration also argued that an earlier request, which asked the government to retain records of communication with fossil fuel companies about climate change, was overly burdensome.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration filed a notice to the District Court of Oregon, on which Judge Aiken presides, giving the court until June 9 to issue a decision on the appeal. If the court did not issue such a decision, the filing said, the defendants would seek a ruling directly from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — a move that Our Children’s Trust, the organization behind the plaintiff’s suit, called “remarkable.”

In her denial of the appeal, Aiken took a moment to point out the irony in the defendant’s request for an expedited decision, writing that “the government’s belief that it is legally entitled to an immediate ruling on a motion it submitted three months ago is rather ironic given that it waited four months to file the request for interlocutory certification in the first place.”

The Trump administration really doesn’t want this climate lawsuit to go to trial

The denial of the appeal means plaintiffs are one step closer to trial, during which they will seek to prove that the United States government has taken action to harm their right to a livable climate. They will also argue that the government has failed to protect commonly held elements, like the atmosphere, in good condition for future generations — a legal doctrine known as the public trust. The plaintiffs will then ask for science-based climate action by the federal government.

“The more evidence we gather for our case, the more I realize how decisively we can win at trial,” Alex Loznak, a 20-year old youth plaintiff from Oregon, said in a statement. “It’s no wonder the Trump administration wants to avoid the trial by seeking an unwarranted, premature appeal. Today’s ruling brings us one step closer to trial and to winning our lawsuit.”

Aiken’s decision to deny the defendant’s appeal comes just weeks after the three fossil fuel industry intervenors filed motions to withdraw from the case. The motions were filed on the same day that crucial discovery was required in the case, which asked fossil fuel companies to state their positions on climate science.

The court has yet to rule on the intervenors’ motion to withdraw.


Federal judge denies Trump administration appeal in youth climate lawsuit was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Zinke defends Trump’s climate cuts by getting facts wrong

Debunking more misleading climate claims from the Trump administration.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

On Thursday, while every major news channel was trained on former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was busy defending the Trump administration’s budget before the House Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee.

Under the proposed budget, the Department of the Interior — which manages about 500 million acres across the country — would see its funding cut by 13 percent. Climate programs, in particular, would take a substantial cut, seeing reductions of around 80 percent.

Those cuts reflect a complete shift in priorities from the Obama administration — which made climate action a pivotal part of its domestic policy — to the Trump administration, which has rolled back U.S. climate action in favor of fossil fuel extraction. As the cabinet member in charge of the United States’ federal lands — which contain extensive deposits of untapped coal, oil, and gas — Zinke is in a particularly powerful position to influence the administration’s climate change policies. So Rep. Betty McCollum (MN), the ranking Democratic member on the subcommittee, specifically asked about the administration’s pivot.

Trump’s Interior Secretary says ‘clean energy’ is a hoax

“I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about climate change,” McCollum said, citing her disappointment with President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. “There has been call for clarity about what the president and cabinet believe about climate change, and what they’re willing to do to address it. You yourself have made conflicting statements about climate change over the years. Could you clarify for us — do you agree that climate change is caused by greenhouse gases?”

What followed was an approximately three-minute exchange, in which Zinke gave at least six misleading statements about climate science, climate policy, and the Paris climate agreement (the exchange begins about 45 minutes into the video below).

https://medium.com/media/959454f08f6464d1d8aa636561a7178e/href

1. “The Paris Agreement is about 20 pages, and when you get to page 5, I think it’s just a badly negotiated deal.”

The Paris agreement being a “bad deal” has been a primary talking point for Trump administration officials. The agreement — which was signed by almost 200 countries — seeks to limit global temperature rise to less than 2° C (3.6° F) above pre-industrial levels. In order to get almost every country in the world on board with the deal, negotiators built it around individually-determined emission reduction pledges from each country, meaning that every participant got to decide how best to reduce their own emissions in line with the overall global goal.

The United States, for it part, submitted a fairly weak pledge, promising to reduce its nation emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 (the European Union, in contrast, promised to reduce emissions 40 percent by 2030). The pledge didn’t even mention agriculture, which is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. And despite making a fairly weak pledge, the United States would still reap the economic benefits of global action, which some economists have estimated could be as high as $12 trillion dollars.

Todd Stern, the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change during the Paris climate conference, said the deal was a remarkable win for the United States.

“We got an awful lot of what we wanted,” Stern told ThinkProgress in December of 2015, just days after the agreement was finalized. “When we sat down and read through the agreement, we were sort of shaking our head a little bit.”

2. “[The Paris agreement] lets China, India, Russia, walk. The CO2 in China actually increases until 2030 because it is structured on people. China has more people, so the world’s greatest polluter takes a walk until 2030.”

The idea that the Paris agreement lets big polluters like China and India off scot-free is another misleading talking point the Trump administration has often used to rationalize withdrawing from the deal. But it’s not exactly true that China would continue to spew carbon pollution until 2030 — as part of the agreement, China promised that its carbon emissions would peak in 2030, and make “best efforts to peak early.”

It’s possible that China’s carbon emissions have already peaked, though it’s difficult to say that for sure (since predicting carbon emissions, especially from China, has proven especially tricky). Coal consumption in China, one of the primary contributors to its national carbon emissions, has significantly declined in recent years, partly due to an economic slowdown and partly due to government policies aimed at curbing coal use. Moreover, the country has announced plans to significantly expand its renewable energy generation, investing $360 billion by 2020 in an attempt to dominate a post-Paris green economy that some economists estimate could be worth $13 trillion.

China has also promised to contribute to climate funds aimed at helping developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, pledging $3.1 billion to the South-South Climate Cooperation fund and another $12 billion to the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund by 2030.

3. “You look at the MIT report, at the end of the day, it makes insignificant difference.”

In his speech in the White House Rose Garden announcing the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement, Trump cited an MIT study that found that “if all member nations met their obligations, the impact on the climate would be negligible… less than .2 degrees Celsius in 2100.” Immediately after, researchers in MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change released a statement warning that Trump had used the study in a misleading way, but that didn’t stop EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt from trotting out the same talking points in a White House press briefing the next day. And Thursday, Zinke used the same study to argue that the Paris agreement would have little impact on climate change.

According to the MIT researchers responsible for the study, the .2° C (.36° F) figure represents the incremental impact over the Copenhagen agreement, and assumes that no country would deepen its emission reduction targets after 2030. The researchers clarified that, in contrast to a scenario with no global climate policy, the Paris agreement would reduce global warming by 1° C (1.8° F)— still far below what is needed to remain below 2° C (3.6° F), but well above the .2° C figure.

John Reilly, the co-director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, told Reuters that if the world doesn’t take action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature could rise by 5°C (9° F), an outcome he described as “catastrophic.”

4. “The problem is that we don’t understand what the effects [of climate change] are. There are no models that exist…”

After discussing Paris, Zinke pivoted to his own understanding of climate science, arguing that while he does not view it as a “hoax” and concedes that “man has had an influence,” there is no way to know what the effects of climate change will be.

It’s true that climate science is more robust as to causes than to predicting specific outcomes, but there are ongoing impacts that scientists feel confident in linking to climate change, like sea level rise, loss of Arctic sea ice, and more frequent heat waves. Scientists are confident that climate change is creating an environment that favors more extreme weather events, like heavier storms and more devastating floods, because as the Earth’s lower atmosphere becomes warmer, it can hold more moisture. And scientists are confident that an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is contributing to a greater concentration of oceanic carbon dioxide, making the world’s oceans more acidic and less hospitable to some marine life, including shellfish like oysters.

5. “CO2 is a concern. But what can we do about it? What should we do about it? What is the right path forward?”

Zinke wrapped up his diatribe on climate with a serious of questions that, while not directly misleading, could certainly be construed as disingenuous, especially in light of the Trump administration’s clear aversion to climate action. Asking what can be done about carbon dioxide while rescinding a ban on federal coal leasing is like asking what can be done about diabetes while subsidizing candy stores — it’s a rhetorical question that is completely at odds with action.

In the past, Zinke has claimed that there is “no such thing as clean energy.” His personal schedule also reveals frequent meetings with energy and industry groups, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, and the American Petroleum Institute. If he’s sincerely looking for answers about how to deal with carbon dioxide emissions, filling his schedule with companies that profit from fossil fuel extraction seems like an odd choice.

And a sad truth: “Man has had a negative influence not just on CO2, but you look at arsenic, you look at the chemicals that we have looked at agriculture, man has not been a particularly good influence anyway.”

Embedded in Zinke’s argument was the parallel between carbon pollution and other pollution. This is not so much a lie as a strange diversion — Zinke appeared to argue that since man has been a poor influence on the planet writ large (through chemical industry, for instance) that man’s influence on the climate through greenhouse gas emissions was just par for the course.

It’s true that human activity has created all kinds of environmental problems, from toxic waste spills to rampant deforestation. But just because there are a number of problems doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try and solve one of the biggest.


Zinke defends Trump’s climate cuts by getting facts wrong was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.