John Walke Profile picture
I am the Clean Air Director & a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. This is my personal account.
Jeff Smith on Air Pollution Profile picture 2 added to My Authors
23 Feb
Another study shows "long-term exposure to air pollutants poses a significant risk to cardiovascular & respiratory health among the elderly population in the US." ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CI…

It's worth revisiting outliers among @EPA's clean air advisors, thanks to @EPAAWheeler. 1/
In 2018, @EPAAWheeler named a @TCEQ toxicologist to EPA's Clean Air Science Advisory Committee. She opposed safer health standards for smog pollution & disputed links to mortality bc elderly health study subjects "within days of death" were "less likely to be outdoors" anyway. 2/
@EPAAWheeler @TCEQ This gruesome view was in an article co-authored with the director of the Toxicology Division of the @TCEQ (notice a trend here?) that disgraced EPA head Scott Pruitt picked to head EPA's prestigious Science Advisory Board. energyindepth.org/wp-content/upl… texasobserver.org/texas-toxicolo… 3/
Read 10 tweets
21 Sep 20
Oh, what the heck, I'll listen to and tweet about this @FedSoc teleforum.

Let's see what they say about Trump's @EPA being the 1st in the agency's history NEVER to strengthen any health standards for air pollution. I bet they will approve! 1/
Former Trump @EPA political appointee & attorney in @EPAcounsel, Justin Schwab, is describing the health standard-setting process under the Clean Air Act & the role of its clean air advisors. 2/
Left unstated is that disgraced former Trump @EPA head, Scott Pruitt, purged EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee of expert academic scientists & stacked the body with members with known views hostile to consensus air pollution health science. 3/
Read 30 tweets
5 Jun 20
Trump just said he is "setting all sorts of really good environmental records."

He's partly right; his administration has rolled back (or tried & failed to roll back) more environmental & health protections in 3+ years than any president in EPA's history. eelp.law.harvard.edu/regulatory-rol…
Trump just said "we have the cleanest air we have ever had," a deception the Trump @EPA has taken to repeating, lately.

Let's unpack that deception. 1/
National emissions of air pollution in the U.S. are lower in 2020 than they were the year before, and lower in 2019 than in 2018--*thanks to positive actions taken by presidents before Trump & actions by the states.*

Not by Trump or his @EPA. 2/
Read 13 tweets
20 May 20
@EPAAWheeler is testifying this morning before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, @SenateEPW & @EPWDems.

He identifies 5 actions taken by @EPA since March--all deregulatory.

Follow along. 1/
@EPAAWheeler repeats one of his favorite lies--that over 60 rollbacks executed by @EPA have saved billions; now he says over SEVEN billion dollars.

This is rubbish, which @EPA & Wheeler NEVER have substantiated. 2/
@EPAAWheeler's written testifies celebrates EPA's 50th anniversary in 2020 & touts EPA's 2019 accomplishments.

NONE reduces air pollution one molecule beyond rules Trump inherited from Obama; indeed, Trump rollbacks INCREASE air pollution.

Pathetic. epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/… 3/
Read 34 tweets
6 May 20
@Morning_Energy reports today on the formation of a new “advocacy organization focused on conservative clean energy & climate change solutions” called C3 Solutions, or the “Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions.”

I wandered over to its website & it's revealing. 1/
@Morning_Energy reports that 1 of the 2 co-founders of CS Solutions was the communications director for former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn — @LCVoters lifetime environmental voting record in Congress, 9%. scorecard.lcv.org/search?l=Coburn 2/
The 2nd co-founder was the chief of staff at the well-known climate change thought-leader, the @Heritage Foundation.

Advisory Board members include former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum — @LCVoters lifetime environmental voting record, 10%. scorecard.lcv.org/search?l=Santo… 3/
Read 25 tweets
16 Apr 20
A thread about big lies by Trump's @EPA, attacks on clean air health safeguards & a toxic legacy Trump wants to leave behind to block future protections against smog, toxic air pollution & dangerous climate change. EPA is executing it all during a global respiratory pandemic. 1/
This thread is prompted by today’s expected @EPA action to undermine safeguards against mercury, lead, arsenic & other toxins from power plants that burn coal & oil; & a declaration that it’s not “appropriate” or “necessary” to regulate these toxins.
bloomberg.com/news/articles/… 2/
Most dangerous of all, the Trump @EPA will rule—for 1st time— that it's OK to ignore all benefits that clean air rules achieve by reducing all forms of regulated air pollution. This move is meant to block or constrain future clean air & climate change safeguards, beyond Trump. 3/
Read 26 tweets
20 Feb 20
1. A thread on the welcome news that annual emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) & smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions are BOTH under a million tons in 2019 for the 1st time since the start of the Acid Rain Program (when monitoring began) in the early 1990’s.
2. Since 2005, U.S. SO2 emissions from covered electric power plant units (those > 25 MW that burn fossil fuels)decreased by 90.5%! — from 10,139,514 tons of SO2 in 2005 to 967,745 tons in 2019. (Hat tip to my crack number-crunching colleague, Amanda Levin, for these analyses.)
3. States that saw the largest percentage reductions from *in-state* electric power sector SO2 emissions since 2005 include Massachusetts (-99.8%), New Hampshire (-99.2%), Delaware (-99.1%), New York & Virginia (-98.9%).
Read 17 tweets
17 Dec 19
1. Rarefied, neutral-sounding words here cannot mask a deeply political, deregulatory Trump administrative law reform agenda that echoes extreme, failed House GOP bills. yalejreg.com/nc/doing-justi…

Here's my thread on SG's speech calling for ad law reform:
2. I enjoy this author, but when I read an essay about political administrative law 'reforms' laden with so much anti-regulatory & ideological baggage—& the essay quotes Holmes & the Federalist Papers—it brings to mind distraction practiced by pickpockets. yalejreg.com/nc/doing-justi…
3. The Trump admin. political enterprise is hinted at in SG's speech , but also in @TheJusticeDept speaker's take on Trump admin. rollbacks: "this administration has done stellar work reforming the regulatory process & reducing unnecessary regulation."

BS.
Read 16 tweets
6 Dec 19
1. A thread on a speech today by Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, at @TheJusticeDept summit urging legislative amendment of the Administrative Procedure Act, and further Trump administration-led ‘regulatory reforms.’ justice.gov/opa/speech/sol…

Here's the speech's key paragraph:
@TheJusticeDept 2. First, 2 points for context: this speech occurs against a backdrop in which the Trump administration has been a serial violator of the Administrative Procedure Act, the worst I have seen by a 1st-term president in my 25+ years practicing environmental & administrative law.
@TheJusticeDept 3. Commentators on the right & left agree the Trump administration’s track record in court is abysmal when it comes to following the Administrative Procedure Act. washingtonpost.com/world/national… & propublica.org/article/presid…

A 6% court victory rate.
Read 19 tweets
19 Nov 19
1. Here’s a thread on some of the alarming views held by @EPA science advisors appointed by disgraced former EPA head, Scott Pruitt; these advisors are playing a big role in determining whether you & your family will breathe safe or unsafe levels of air pollution.

It's bad.
@EPA 2. The Clean Air Act tasks @EPA’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC) & @EPAAWheeler with setting health standards for air pollutants like ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, & deadly fine particle pollution, PM2.5.
@EPA @EPAAWheeler 3. The Clean Air Act says these clean air health standards must be ‘requisite to protect the public health, with an adequate margin of safety’ to protect especially vulnerable groups like the elderly, children & asthmatics.
Read 16 tweets
14 Nov 19
1. This is a story about Trump @EPA lawbreaking, more cartoonish than crafty. It features attacks on health science & safeguards, end-runs around Congress, villains from the tobacco industry & even EPA’s seeming inability to read.

Once upon a time….
@EPA 2. The Trump @EPA has issued a rule proposal, with a supplemental proposal sitting at the White House, to force @EPA to ignore health science & studies needed to protect Americans & our environment—when those studies use confidential patient or biz info.

Why, you might ask?
@EPA 3. The answers lie in a tobacco industry strategy & GOP legislation that has failed in Congress, meant to prevent federal agencies from adopting more protective safeguards for Americans’ health, air & water quality, climate change & the environment. These attacks target @EPA.
Read 43 tweets
13 Nov 19
1. I will live-tweet this morning's explosive 10:00 am House hearing examining executive branch abuse of power, attacks on facts & truth, & defiance of the Rule of Law--in the @HouseScience Committee.

I think there's some other hearing at 10:00 am, too. cnn.com/politics/live-…
@HouseScience 2. The @HouseScience hearing is entitled, "STRENGTHENING TRANSPARENCY OR SILENCING SCIENCE? THE FUTURE OF SCIENCE IN EPA RULEMAKING," about the Trump @EPA's Censored Science rulemaking, addressed in this explosive @nytimes article: nytimes.com/2019/11/11/cli…
@HouseScience @EPA @nytimes 3. You may follow the @HouseScience hearing, here: science.house.gov/hearings/stren….

Or, just read this thread later; chill at a coffee shop, go for a walk, or tune into that other hearing. I got you covered, here.
Read 70 tweets
12 Nov 19
Realize that the the Trump administration's attacks on health safeguards & science (@EPA to Limit Science Used to Write Public Health Rules, nytimes.com/2019/11/11/cli…) parrot tobacco industry tactics.

A former tobacco lobbyist, @JunkScience, claims to have inspired the Trump @EPA.
@EPA @JunkScience 2. In *1996*, a tobacco industry lawyer defending Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) wrote the anti-science playbook that the Trump @EPA is following:
1. Focus on process, not substance;
2. Focus on science "transparency" & its 'ability to be reproduced'—or else science is barred.
@EPA @JunkScience 3. Elevate a "non-specific business base" like @ShopFloorNAM to support the attacks on science.

NAM has been a strong supporter of efforts to censor EPA's consideration of the best available science in the name of 'transparency.' shopfloor.org/2017/03/house-… & eenews.net/stories/106008…
Read 13 tweets
6 Nov 19
1. I testified in the Senate this AM opposing a Republican bill to drastically weaken the Clean Air Act, to let nearly 14,000 industrial facilities across America significantly increase dangerous air pollution like smog, soot & carbon pollution. epw.senate.gov/public/index.c…

A thread.
2. The GOP bill targets clean air safeguards that constrain runaway air pollution increases from many 1,000s of U.S. industrial polluters; then they make changes that increase air pollution significantly, they must install modern pollution controls--or limit the increases.
3. The GOP bill wants to gut these clean air safeguards, by allowing massive air pollution increases from every community in America, & eliminating the requirement for modern air pollution controls.

How bad is the bill? Excerpts from my oral statement follow:
Read 21 tweets
22 Oct 19
Increases in deadly air pollution & premature deaths under Trump have occurred in counties & regions meeting & failing national @EPA health standards for tiny particle pollution.

Air pollution increased in the West & Midwest & stayed the same in the Northeast & South. 1/
@EPA Researchers found 80% of premature deaths due to air pollution under Trump occurred among the elderly, & 20% of premature deaths among adults, ages 30-64.

43% of the rise in deaths nationally from 2016-2018 occurred in California, where @EPA is attacking state clean air laws. 2/
@EPA Researchers examined 3 possible causes for the national death increase under trump:
1. Decreases in enforcement of the Clean Air Act;
2. Wildfires; &
3. Changes in economic activity (increased gas combustion, more vehicle miles traveled). 3/
Read 13 tweets
20 May 19
The Trump @EPA is attack longstanding health & air quality science that tiny soot (PM2.5) is harmful, even deadly, below air quality standards. nytimes.com/2019/05/20/cli…

A thread on original sin. 1/9
A former coal plant attorney heading the @EPA air pollution office, Bill Wehrum, protests the attack was not ‘cooked up’ in his 5th floor EPA office.

Turns out he's right: it was cooked up in his former @HuntonAK office on behalf of the disgraced Utility Air Regulatory Group. 2/
In 2015 comments to @EPA filed by @HuntonAK on behalf of the Utility Air Regulatory Group, when Bill Wehrum represented UARG, Hunton argued that recognizing the benefits of saving lives & reducing PM2.5 pollution below ambient air quality standards “fail a common sense test.” 3/
Read 9 tweets
25 Feb 19
Not the point: when did @DTE_Energy & its law firm, @HuntonAK, know the Trump @EPA was considering reversal of EPA’s legal interpretation & enforcement stance, to adopt DTE’s? 1/
Did @DTE_Energy & @HuntonAK know &, if so, when that @EPA was rushing to issue its amnesty memo in time for DTE’s counsel to deliver the memo to try to influence the SCt’s consideration of the DTE cert. petition? Was there any prior communication or coordination? 2/
Did @EPA’s Mandy Gunasekara or David Harlow, a former @HuntonAK partner who worked for @DTE_Energy on its EPA enforcement case, communicate in any way with DTE or @HuntonAK about the amnesty enforcement memo or its topics prior to the memo’s issuance? 3/
Read 4 tweets
25 Feb 19
Explanation of 'redaction' fiction in involvement by @EPA air office head, Bill Wehrum, in enforcement amnesty memo benefiting his form law firm's client, DTE Energy, in a pending EPA Clean Air Act enforcement case: 1/
Wehrum was given a redacted copy of the draft DTE enforcement amnesty memo, blacking out DTE's name, to present pretense that he would not know the memo concerned the client of his former law firm (@HuntonAK) or was designed to help them in a pending EPA enforcement lawsuit. 2/
Wehrum says he was cleared "to hold the meeting to explain the intent of 2002 air rules he helped write during the George W. Bush administration — rules that were key to the DTE dispute." washingtonpost.com/national/healt… 3/
Read 11 tweets
22 Feb 19
Incredible interview w/ @EPA politico who founded a dark money group to promote the environmental-energy agenda of Trump--"the greatest president in modern history." (No, really.)

My favorite is this, equating harmful Trump rollback agenda w/ EPA mission: eenews.net/greenwire/2019…
Also good: this person was the Senate staffer who handed the snowball to Senator @JimInhofe for his infamous, juvenile stunt on the Senate floor to 'prove' that climate change is a hoax. (See, it's snowing?)

She describes how they made sure the stunt respected Senate formality:
These 3 sentences are greatest hits of GOP climate dodges for past decade or longer:
1. Consensus is "varied," i.e., no consensus.
2. Stock Trump political appointee mumbling that denies consensus of dominant human role in climate change.
3. Emerging GOP talking point.
Read 5 tweets
10 Dec 18
Concerning talk from the oil industry-tobacco industry consultant heading a crucial @EPA clean air advisory committee.

Here's why and what these ominous remarks could forecast:
The Clean Air Act requires EPA--and its official clean air advisory--to provide Americans with national clean air health standards for pollutants like ozone & particulate matter (PM) that are 'requisite to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety.'
The law's focus is on *harm* to public health from amounts of air pollution, and where standards should be set--the legal definition of clean, safe air, really--to protect Americans, with an adequate safety margin for vulnerable groups (asthmatics, children, the elderly).
Read 18 tweets
6 Dec 18
The Trump @EPA has purged from EPA's website a webpage summarizing the health benefits of its Mercury & Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants that burn coal & oil.

This is a precursor to a December rollback, which will deny these safeguards deliver health benefits.

A thread. 1/
The Bloomberg @environment reporter, @amenasaiyid, noticed that @EPA recently had updated one of its web pages for the Mercury & Air Toxics Standards.

She helpfully told us on Twitter. 2/
I decided to check out exactly what changes @EPA had made, using the Wayback Machine. archive.org/web/

I discovered that EPA purged the “Healthier Americans” webpage & summary of health benefits for the Obama EPA’s Mercury & Air Toxics Standards.

Gross & ominous. 3/
Read 25 tweets