Pruitt unveils controversial ‘transparency’ rule limiting what research

Apr 24, 2018 – Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt listens to President … Scott Pruitt moved Tuesday to limit what science can be used in writing … The proposed rule would only allow the EPA to consider studies where the …

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-favor-transparency-but-say-epa-plan-will-limit-it/

Failure to Communicate

Trump has a solid record, but he’s too busy making noise to tout it.

If a tree falls in a noisy circus, does it make a sound? If the Trump administration announces its largest deregulatory effort to date while the president is in the throes of a Twitter rampage, will anybody pay attention?

No, and thereon may hang the balance of Republican congressional control. It’s never clear where Donald Trump gets political advice, if he does at all. What is clear is that this White House is doing an able job of whiffing one of the best political messages in decades, a reality that is demoralizing administration insiders and GOP candidates alike.

.. The Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department released a plan—announced on the website of these pages—to ax the Obama administration’s car-emissions standards, saving consumers $500 billion. Dollarwise, it may be the biggest deregulation ever.

.. The Treasury has recommended rescinding the “payday lending” rule, which threatened to cut off the poorest Americans from viable credit.

.. The Internal Revenue Service lifted a political threat to nonprofits by allowing them to shield the names of their donors.

.. The Department of Health and Human Services finalized its rule allowing more non-ObamaCare insurance options to millions of Americans. The Senate sent a $717 billion defense authorization bill to the White House, increasing active-duty strength and providing troops their largest pay raise in nine years. The Senate also confirmed the 24th Trump circuit-court judge.

.. The Labor Department released new numbers showing worker compensation increased 2.8% year over year, the fastest pace in a decade

.. Republicans have long known they don’t get a fair hearing from the press, which is why they shifted to talk radio and other alternative media. Mr. Trump understands that better than most—thus his heavy use of Twitter, live rallies and press conferences.

.. The president is certainly focused on his base, though with an eye to whipping them up with rallies focused primarily on the polarizing issues of trade and immigration. His tweets revolve around the same issues—those and Mr. Mueller—and are often defensive or whiny.

.. If Mr. Trump makes those centrists believe this election is about family separation, Republicans lose. If he refocuses it on voters’ newly thriving prospects, Republicans have a shot.

.. One remarkable aspect of the Trump administration is its productivity. The cabinet set a pace of reform in its openings weeks that has never lagged. If Mr. Trump isn’t going to spend every day embracing, elevating and making this product of his own presidency the dominant discussion, then no one will. The press isn’t going to do it. Democrats sure aren’t. And no other Republican has that megaphone.

Brett Kavanaugh Has Shown Deep Skepticism of Regulatory State

As an appellate judge in Washington, President Trump’s Supreme Court pick is known for ruling against regulators he sees as having overstepped their bounds

His dozen years on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit have been marked with dozens of votes to roll back rules and regulations. He has often concluded that agencies stretched their power too far and frequently found himself at odds with the Obama administration, including in dissents he wrote opposing net-neutrality rules and greenhouse-gas restrictions.

.. When a divided Supreme Court in 2015 rejected the Obama administration’s rules requiring power plants to cut mercury emissions and other pollutants, the majority opinion by conservative justices drew heavily from Judge Kavanaugh.

.. The high court cited his earlier dissent when he argued that the Environmental Protection Agency had failed to consider the costs of its regulations before moving forward. The EPA, he concluded, had ignored a requirement in the Clear Air Act that the agency determine whether an electric-utility regulation is “appropriate” before imposing it.

.. Too often, he found, judges were giving agency regulators the benefit of the doubt based on a doctrine that instructs judges to give more deference when the meaning of what Congress wrote isn’t precisely clear.That was the case, he thought, when the D.C. Circuit last year reviewed the legality of net-neutrality rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.

In a dissenting opinion, he said the FCC didn’t have the authority to classify internet providers as “telecommunications services” and ban them from splitting internet traffic into fast and slow lanes.

.. In a dissenting opinion, he said the FCC didn’t have the authority to classify internet providers as “telecommunications services” and ban them from splitting internet traffic into fast and slow lanes.

.. “He’s not coming with a machete and slashing through agency regulation,” said Mr. Adler, defending the judge’s record. “He’s holding agencies to a slightly higher standard than other judges.”

E.P.A. Aide Questioned Deleting Sensitive Meeting Details. Then She Was Fired.

Last summer one of his senior schedulers, Madeline G. Morris, was fired by Mr. Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff, Kevin Chmielewski, who said he let her go because she was questioning the practice of retroactively deleting meetings from the calendar. Mr. Chmielewski has emerged as a harsh critic of Mr. Pruitt after a bitter falling out that led to his departure from the agency as well.

.. Madeline G. Morris, was fired by Mr. Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff, Kevin Chmielewski, who said he let her go because she was questioning the practice of retroactively deleting meetings from the calendar.

..  One case involved the deletion of several of Mr. Pruitt’s meetings during a spring 2017 trip to Rome, including one with a controversial cardinal then under investigation for sexual assault.

.. The E.P.A. acknowledged in a series of legal memos last year that it did in fact direct an agency scheduler — although it did not name the person — to revise Mr. Pruitt’s daily calendar retroactively. The agency said it was doing so to remove errors that had been left in the electronic record after various events were canceled or happened differently than expected.

.. Ryan Jackson, Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff, dismissed Mr. Chmielewski’s criticism as a fabrication by a disgruntled former employee. “Whatever he’s telling you about altering calendars is not correct,”

.. Ms. Morris was called last July by two agency lawyers, who told her that the changes she was making to Mr. Pruitt’s schedule might be illegal, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The following month, Ms. Morris noticed that a number of changes had been made to the record of a trip Mr. Pruitt had taken to Italy. Ms. Morris questioned the legality of the changes to Mr. Chmielewski and Mr. Jackson, and a few days later was fired, he said.

.. In another potential violation of federal law, the E.P.A. continued to pay Ms. Morris for six weeks after she was fired from the agency.

.. In July 2017, according to Mr. Chmielewski, Ms. Morris was instructed by him and Mr. Jackson to retroactively delete some meetings Mr. Pruitt held with lobbyists and replace them with staff meetings in the calendar, which was maintained in Microsoft Outlook. He and other people familiar with the calendar also said Ms. Morris was asked not to enter some of Mr. Pruitt’s meetings on the official calendar.

.. Mr. Chmielewski cited an August 2017 meeting with billionaire Denver-based businessman Philip Anschutz, a prominent donor to Republican Senate candidates and owner of an energy company regulated by the agency. Mr. Pruitt’s calendar for that day, which was publicly released, does not include the meeting.

.. including a special tour of the necropolis below St. Peter’s Basilica — as well as one meeting with Cardinal George Pell, a prominent Vatican leader who was then being investigated on allegations of sexual abuse.