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Earthworks: Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on Interior’s “Critical” Minerals List


July 17, 2018
Contact: Alan Septoff,, 202.887.1872×105
Aaron Mintzes,,  919-302-6393

WASHINGTON, DC (July 17, 2018) – Today Earthworks’ Senior Policy Counsel is testifying before the full Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee as it examines the Department of the Interior’s Final List of Critical Minerals.

Interior published the list in response to President Trump’s December 20, 2017 executive order, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals”. Presidents Trump’s order followed multiple failed attempts by Congress, most recently introduced by Rep. Amodei (R-NV), to gut the mine permitting process for so-called ‘critical minerals’.

The Interior & Commerce Departments (and other agencies)  are now charged to provide policy strategies to the President, including “recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing leases; enhancing access to critical mineral resources; and increasing discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.”

Statement of Earthworks Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Mintzes
“Reforming so-called “critical” minerals policy is simply the mining lobby’s latest gambit in a decade-long attempt to eviscerate community and environmental oversight of their industry — the nation’s largest toxic polluter.

We need to strengthen our outdated mining laws, not weaken already flimsy community and taxpayer protections. Families across the country live with pollution from irresponsible mining, and taxpayers — not polluters — too often pay for a cleanup bill which has reached $50 billion.”


Senate Energy & Natural Resources Full Committee Hearing to Examine the Department of the Interior’s Final List of Critical Minerals; July 17 2018, 10am, Dirksen Room 366
Written testimony of Earthworks Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Mintzes
Mintzes’ statement upon release of Interior’s Final List of Critical Minerals
Federal Register notice publishing Interior/USGS final list of critical minerals
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory Ranking of Top Toxic Polluters by Industry


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West Virginia Hits Fracked Gas Pipeline With Third Environmental Citation

For Immediate Release
Contact: Doug Jackson, 202.495.3045 or

CHARLESTON, WV (June 15, 2018) — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline following an investigation on June 6, 2018. This is already the third citation issued to MVP in its nascent construction phase. This time, regulators punished MVP for failing to modify their Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) after it was proven to be ineffective, for failing to implement proper runoff controls, and for failing to prevent sediment-laden water from leaving the construction site without proper treatment.
It is especially noteworthy that the MVP would receive three NOVs in such a short time from West Virginia, a state that is notoriously loathe to regulate the fossil fuel industry. For example, at the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment, the WV DEP did not pull their permit after several violations, eventually leading to underground coal sludge injections that poisoned well water in surrounding communities. Similar concerns were raised around a chemical spill into the Elk River.
In response, Sierra Club Organizing Manager Bill Price released the following statement:
“After getting their second Notice of Violation, MVP said they were committed to building their fracked gas pipeline ‘the right way.’ Well, if this is right way to build a pipeline, I’m terrified to see what the wrong way looks like.
“We have said all along and will repeat it again – there is no need to build this dirty, dangerous fracked gas pipeline. Clean, renewable energy sources are abundant and affordable and we shouldn’t risk West Virginia’s water, climate, and communities just to boost the bottom line of a polluting corporation.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit


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House votes to cut oversight of nation’s top toxic polluter

For Immediate Release
Contact: Alan Septoff, (202) 887-1872×105,

Washington, D.C. (May 23, 2018) — Today, the House of Representatives voted 229 to 183 to support corporate mining interests over public interests. Rep. Amodei’s (R-NV) amendment to the defense bill funding our troops masquerades as critical minerals policy, but instead threatens our waters and disempowers our communities.

Truly critical are clean water, air and public health. Our bedrock environmental laws also allow communities to have a say in projects that impact them. Limiting input from mining-affected communities would take us in the wrong direction. We need to change U.S. mining policy, but not by loosening oversight, nor by cutting the public out of our government’s decisions. We need accountability. Communities across the country live with pollution from mining accidents. And taxpayers — not the polluters — too often pay for cleanup. Comprehensive reform of the outdated 1872 General Mining Law is the solution to this problem, not giving the mining industry yet another special favor.”


Masquerading as a bill about “strategic and critical minerals,” this amendment strips key water, health and community protections against the nation’s largest toxic polluter, the hardrock mining industry.

The amendment, based on Rep. Amodei’s HR 520, defines nearly anything dug from the ground as a “critical” mineral including common minerals like sand and gravel. For more than 40 years, NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) reviews have provided regulatory certainty and a transparent, fair process for permit seekers and communities to engage their government in mining permitting decisions. Representative Amodei’s amendment would do away with this well-established process.


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Critical minerals list is another Trump attempt to silence public & gut mining oversight

For Immediate Release
Contact: Alan Septoff,, 202-887-1872 x105

Washington, D.C. (May 18, 2018) — In today’s Federal Register, the Interior Department published a final list of “critical minerals” in response to President Trump’s December 20, 2017 executive order, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals”.

Presidents Trump’s order followed multiple failed attempts by Congress, most recently introduced by Rep. Amodei (R-NV), to gut the mine permitting process for so-called ‘critical minerals’. Now that the USGS has created this list, the executive order gives the Interior & Commerce Departments (and other agencies) 180 days to provide policy strategies to the President, including “recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing leases; enhancing access to critical mineral resources; and increasing discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.”

Statement of Earthworks’ Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Mintzes:

“Which minerals make the list misses the point. The mining lobby has misdirected this debate away from our genuine mineral needs toward their decade long attempt to eviscerate community and environmental oversight of the nation’s largest toxic polluter.

What’s ‘critical’ is protecting our clean air and water. The real problem comes when the Interior Department decides what to do with this list. Our worry is criticality designations will serve as a conduit for removing public input in our government’s mining decisions.”

For More Information

Final List of Critical Minerals 2018, Federal Register Notice on 5/18/2018
Joint environmental & community comments re draft list of critical minerals
A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliables Supplies of Critical Minerals, Executive Order on 12/26/2017
Earthworks statement on release of Trump 2017 critical minerals executive order
Earthworks factsheet on HR520, the National Strategic & Critical Minerals Production Act


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FERC Faces Multiple Legal Challenges Over PennEast Pipeline

For Immediate Release
Contact: Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, 215-801-3043 (cell)
Aaron Stemplewicz, Senior Attorney, Delaware Riverkeeper Network 215-369-1188
Washington, DC (May 14, 2018) — In a major legal maneuver, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandamus against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking a court order that FERC issue a final response to the organization’s requests for rehearing. A final order on the merits of the rehearing requests is necessary to allow the organization to affirmatively challenge FERC’s issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the controversial pipeline project. Rather than issue such final determinations, FERC issued “tolling orders”, which are decisions that neither grant nor deny the rehearing requests, thereby placing challengers in what the Delaware Riverkeeper Network refers to as legal limbo. In addition to the Mandamus action, the organization also simultaneously filed a Petition for Review with the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals also challenging the orders of the Commission.

“Unfortunately, from the day the PennEast pipeline project was first announced in 2014, we knew FERC would rubber stamp its approval, it was just a matter of when. We also anticipated that FERC would use its tolling order strategy to try to hamstring our organization, and other challengers to the project, preventing us from getting our day in court until it was too late,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “So, sadly, every step we have taken from the day this project was announced, we have undertaken with an eye for finding a way to get our day in court. Often we find the courts complicit in siding with FERC when it comes to these blatantly unfair strategies. But we are hopeful that we are in a moment in time when the courts finally realize that enough is enough and it is time to place a check on FERC. Now, more than ever in this age of Trump when agencies are being allowed to run roughshod over communities, it is time for the courts to stand up for the rule of law and the rights of the people.”
“FERC’s continued use, and abuse, of tolling orders to obstruct or otherwise delay aggrieved parties from obtaining their day in court is not only unfair, but reflects a blatant violation of the public’s due process rights. We look forward to shining a light on these underhanded tactics before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.” said Aaron Stemplewicz, Senior Attorney at Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
At the same time the Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted its first rehearing request on January 24, 2018, it also submitted to FERC a Motion for Stay to halt construction and any other land disturbance pending the rehearing request. The motion states, “Unless a stay is issued by the Commission, construction of the Project will go forward without the benefit of the meaningful environmental analysis that the National Environmental Policy Act requires.” FERC has yet to issue a decision with regard to the Motion for Stay as well.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network also has an ongoing lawsuit first launched March 2, 2016, that is currently before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, asserting that FERC is infected by structural bias and is violating the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s Fifth Amendment Due Process rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The PennEast pipeline is also the basis of this ongoing legal action.
FERC issued its Certificate approving the PennEast pipeline on January 19, 2018. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed its rehearing request to the FERC Certificate on January 24, 2018. FERC responded with a tolling order issued on February 22, 2018. DRN submitted a rehearing request on the tolling order immediately, on February 22, 2018. FERC issued a second tolling order on April 13, 2018. Other organizations have challenged the project and find themselves similarly mired in the legal quagmire created by FERC.
If built, the PennEast pipeline would cut through creeks, wetlands, forests and communities in Luzerne County; Carbon County; Northampton County; and Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and through communities in Mercer and Hunterdon Counties, New Jersey. The 116-mile fracked gas pipeline would include three laterals extending off the mainline, a compression station, and appurtenant above ground facilities. Pennsylvania has issued Clean Water Act 401 Certification for the project, but not the underlying state permits necessary to support the Certification. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is actively engaged in a legal challenge against Pennsylvania’s Certification. New Jersey has not taken steps to issue its approval for the project. Approvals are also required from the Delaware River Basin Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The FERC Certificate was issued with a 4-1 vote. FERC Commissioner Glick, a recent appointee to the Commission, dissented from the decision questioning the asserted need for the project and the information provided by the company regarding its impacts:
“In today’s order, the Commission relies exclusively on the existence of precedent agreements with shippers to conclude that the PennEast Project is needed. Pursuant to these agreements, PennEast’s affiliates hold more than 75 percent of the pipeline’s subscribed capacity. While I agree that precedent and service agreements are one of several measures for assessing the market demand for a pipeline, contracts among affiliates may be less probative of that need because they are not necessarily the result of an arms length negotiation.”
“PennEast’s certificate application lacks evidence that I believe is important to making the public interest determination. The Commission addresses this lack of evidence by conditionally granting the certificate, subject to PennEast’s compliance with the environmental conditions. I recognize that the courts have upheld the Commission’s authority to issue conditional certificates. Nevertheless, doing so comes with significant consequences for landowners whose properties lie in the path of the proposed pipeline.”
Commissioners Chatterjee and Glick both questioned whether it was appropriate to issue the Certificate as a means of allowing the company to gain access to properties for purposes of collecting the remaining data it needs to support permit applications.
A copy of DRN’s legal filings can be found at:

. pdf

A Dossier of Abuses regarding tolling orders by FERC can be found at:

Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) is a nonprofit membership organization working throughout the four states of the Delaware River Watershed including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. DRN provides effective environmental advocacy, volunteer monitoring programs, stream restoration projects, public education, and legal enforcement of environmental protection laws.

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Lawsuit Targets Trump Oil, Gas Leases Threatening Sage Grouse in Five States

For Immediate Release

Contact: Michael Saul, Center for Biological Diversity, (303) 915-8308,
Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910,
Laird Lucas, Advocates for the West, (208) 342-7024 x 201,

Boise, Idaho (April 30, 2018) — Conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging Trump administration policies that gut protections for imperiled greater sage grouse and allow oil and gas leases on nearly 2 million acres of the birds’ prime habitat.

Today’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boise, says the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Lands Policy and Management Act when it approved eight massive oil and gas lease sales in Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

Those leases were enabled by two Trump polices, one directive rolling back hard-won compromises to preserve dwindling sage-grouse populations across the West and another that cuts the public out of oil and gas planning on public lands.

“Trump can’t ignore the law to fulfill the fossil fuel industry’s wish list,” said Michael Saul, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s no scientific or legal support behind these policies, and no public support for them either. They’re clearly intended to make fossil fuel development the dominant use of public land, and that’s illegal.”

This lawsuit also marks the first legal challenge to the Interior Department’s controversial January policy that slashed transparency, public participation and environmental reviews before oil and gas leases are auctioned. The policy, together with the massive leases in sage-grouse habitat, are part of Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda, intended to sweep aside environmental protections to speed fossil fuel development on public land.

“The Trump administration is violating bedrock environmental laws and wrongly excluding the public in trying to open every inch of our public lands to the oil and gas industry,” said Laird Lucas of Advocates for the West, lead attorney on the case. “Sensitive wildlife, like the iconic sage grouse, face irreparable harm. We are asking the federal court to enforce the laws on the books and protect our magnificent public lands from these unlawful actions.”

Under land-use plans adopted in 2015, the Interior Department is obligated to focus fracking and drilling leases outside of sage-grouse habitat. Those plans are intended to prevent the bird’s decline and preclude its protection under the Endangered Species Act. A BLM directive effectively eliminated those sage-grouse agreements. Today’s lawsuit targets oil and gas lease sales in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

“This is a battle for the American West, and we’re not going to stand idly by while the oil industry destroys our public lands, wildlife habitats and quality of life again,” said Erik Molvar of Western Watersheds Project. “The one thing the Obama administration got right, amid all the compromises in their sage-grouse plans, was to shift oil and gas leasing and development away from sage-grouse habitats, because you can’t destroy sage-grouse habitats if they’re never leased.”

Sage-grouse success also benefits pronghorn, elk, golden eagle, native trout and nearly 200 other bird species. Over the past 200 years land conversion, oil and gas drilling, and livestock grazing have cut the grouse’s range in half, causing steady population declines.
Under Zinke the BLM has ignored the 2015 policies, built into 98 federal resource-management plans in 10 states, and put nearly 2 million acres of habitat on the auction block ― more than 1.3 million acres in 2018 alone. Zinke vowed to undo the 2015 plans despite support from western states and scientists who helped the BLM write them.

Advocates for the West attorneys Laird Lucas, Talasi Brooks and Todd Tucci are representing Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity in today’s lawsuit.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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Appeal Challenges Oil Drilling in California’s Carrizo Plain National Monument

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jeff Kuyper, Los Padres ForestWatch, (805) 617-4610 x 1,
Lisa Belenky, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 385-5694,

Bakersfield, CA (April 20, 2018) — Los Padres ForestWatch and the Center for Biological Diversity today appealed the Trump administration’s approval of a new oil well and pipeline in Carrizo Plain National Monument. It is the first well the Interior Department has approved in the monument since it was established in 2001

Today’s appeals, filed with the Interior Board of Land Appeals in Virginia and the Bureau of Land Management’s California director, show that the oil well and pipeline would harm threatened and endangered wildlife and mar scenic views. The fossil fuel development would violate several laws, including the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act, as well as the monument’s resource-management plan.

“Oil drilling in the Carrizo Plain National Monument must comply with the highest environmental standards to ensure the protection of this iconic landscape,” said ForestWatch Executive Director Jeff Kuyper. “This new well and pipeline fall far short of that standard, threatening the area’s rare wildlife and scenic views.”

The proposed well site is located at the base of the Caliente Mountains along the western boundary of Carrizo Plain National Monument. The area is home to several protected species, including the threatened San Joaquin antelope squirrel, the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, and a threatened flowering plant called the Kern mallow. Endangered California condors also visit this area with increasing frequency as the birds continue to expand into their historic range.

The oil well would be drilled on an existing oil pad that hasn’t produced oil since the 1950s. Two years ago the BLM approved the oil company’s request to formally abandon the pad and remove an old well, pipelines and other equipment from the site. The company also pledged to recontour and reseed the pad and a half-mile access road leading to it, restoring the area to natural conditions. The work was never done and now the BLM is backtracking on its abandonment plans by approving further development there.

“The irrational, illegal decision to approve this oil drilling imperils rare wildlife and contradicts the conservation purpose of this monument,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney at the Center. “The Trump administration must not be allowed to continue expanding oil and gas drilling in the face of climate change. We need to keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground and turn to renewable energy sources.”

The new well would be visible from key vantage points within Carrizo Plain National Monument, including the Caliente Wilderness Study Area on Caliente Mountain (the highest point in San Luis Obispo County), and from Highway 166, a scenic route in the Cuyama Valley.

Existing oil leases were “grandfathered” in under the monument proclamation signed by President Bill Clinton in 2001, but must comply with more stringent standards. The new well would be drilled in the Russell Ranch Oil Field, which covers approximately 1,500 acres of the monument and adjacent private land. In 2016 the field produced only 125 barrels of oil per day ― 0.02 percent of the state’s total oil production and one of the lowest-producing oilfields in the state. The field is reportedly nearing the end of its useful life.

Conservation groups have asked the BLM to substantially revise its environmental assessment and consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but the BLM disregarded most of the concerns and refused to consult with the wildlife agency.


Carrizo Plain National Monument is a vast expanse of golden grasslands and stark ridges known for their springtime wildflower displays. Often referred to as “California’s Serengeti,” it is one of the last undeveloped remnants of the southern San Joaquin Valley ecosystem.

The Carrizo Plain is critical for the long-term conservation of this dwindling ecosystem, linking these lands to other high-value habitat areas like the Los Padres National Forest, Salinas Valley, Cuyama Valley and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge in western Kern County. Honoring the area’s high biodiversity, limited human impacts, and rare geological and cultural features, the Carrizo Plain was declared a national monument in 2001. It includes more than 206,000 acres of public lands ― perhaps the largest native grassland remaining in all of California.


Los Padres ForestWatch is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting wildlife, wilderness landscapes, watersheds, and outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the Los Padres National Forest and the adjacent Carrizo Plain National Monument.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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40 Civil Rights, Labor & Environmental Orgs to Trump: “It’s Time for Pruitt to Resign, or Be Removed”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Contact: Adam Beitman, or 202-670-5585

40 Civil Rights, Labor & Environmental Orgs to Trump: “It’s Time for Pruitt to Resign, or Be Removed” 

NAACP, SEIU, Union of Concerned Scientists, Physicians for Social Responsibility, OCEANA & More Take out Full Page Ads in the New York Times, New York Post, and Oklahoma’s Largest Newspaper.

NEW YORK CITY – Forty national civil rights, labor, conservation and environmental organizations representing millions of members and supporters across the United States have taken out a series of full page ads Wednesday calling for the resignation or firing of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. On Monday, the Government Accountability Office reported that some of Pruitt’s behavior violates the law.

The ads appear in the main news sections of The New York Times, the New York Post (which Donald Trump receives each day), and the largest newspaper in Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma, The Oklahoman.
** Link to the Ad **
These new nationwide organizations calling for Pruitt’s ouster add to a growing chorus, including:

Editorial boards ranging from The Houston Chronicle and The Joplin Globe to The Washington Post and The LA Times
Over 100 Democrats in the House & Senate
At least three Republican members of the House
Increasing public pressure from other Republicans including House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy who suggested Pruitt should become ‘a monk’ if he wanted to avoid having his feelings hurt, rather than taking first class flights at taxpayer expense.


National Audubon Society – NAACP – Union of Concerned Scientists – SEIU – Physicians for Social Responsibility – Oceana – Sierra Club – Earthjustice – Green For All – Natural Resources Defense Council – League of Conservation Voters – Hip Hop Caucus – GreenLatinos – Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Ocean Conservancy – The Wilderness Society – National Parks Conservation Association – Clean Water Action – Greenpeace USA – American Rivers – Defenders of Wildlife – Environment America – Moms Clean Air Force – Latino Victory Project – Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments – Oil Change International – Montana Environmental Information Center – Alliance for Climate Education – Brighter Green – Partnership for Policy Integrity – Gasp – SustainUS – Carmelite NGO – Alliance for Affordable Energy – Power Shift Network – Rhode Island Interfaith Power & Light – iMatter Youth – Elders Climate Action – Green the Church – Climate Wise Women – Friends of the Earth


SEIU, Executive Vice President Luisa Blue:

“Scott Pruitt’s extravagant spending of the public’s money makes crystal clear what we already know from his policies: he just doesn’t care about the American people. As the largest union of healthcare workers, SEIU members care for people with asthma, cancer and others who have been impacted by the environment. Pruitt’s actions to pull back environmental protections will quicken the devastating impact of climate change, putting the profits of polluting corporations ahead of the health and safety of our families. Pruitt’s actions are an attack on SEIU members and their families who live in communities that already struggle for clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.”

Union of Concerned Scientists, President Ken Kimmell:

“While Scott Pruitt clearly violated ethical standards and bilked taxpayers, he inflicted far worse injury on our children, families, and communities by sidelining science and abandoning the EPA’s public health and environmental mission.”

Latino Victory Project, President Cristóbal J. Alex:

“Scott Pruitt wasted taxpayers’ dollars on luxury travel and soundproof phone booths while cutting vital EPA programs, directly hurting Latinos across the United States. Latinos live on the front lines of the climate change crisis, with half of all U.S. Latinos living in the country’s most polluted cities and Latino children at greater risk of dying from asthma than white children. The job of the EPA Administrator is to protect our natural resources and the health of all Americans, and Pruitt is clearly not up to the task.”

Earthjustice, President Trip Van Noppen

“Beyond his mounting ethical lapses Scott Pruitt has made it his mission to dismantle the many safeguards Americans depend on for clean water, clean air and more with little respect of the law. Scott Pruitt needs to go and until then we will see him in court.”

GreenLatinos, President Mark Magana

“Instead of doing his job to protect our health and environment – especially in marginalized communities and communities of color – Scott Pruitt has wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on luxury travel and unapproved pay raises for close aides, and has become the subject of multiple independent government investigations. He has endangered our communities with reckless rollbacks and repeals of lifesaving health safeguards, making our air dirtier and our water more dangerous to drink. He’s putting families at risk, and it’s been time for him to resign.”

Ocean Conservancy, CEO Janis Searles Jones

“In the 14 months that he’s been EPA Administrator, Pruitt has intentionally and methodically dismantled protections for our ocean, clean water and clean air. Among his many misguided decisions, he’s proposed a budget that would completely eliminate essential EPA functions including keeping our beaches safe from pathogens, monitoring contaminants in the fish we eat and gutting the marine pollution program. It’s time for Scott Pruitt to go. We cannot afford an EPA administrator who actively undermines the health of our ocean.”

Clean Water Action, President Bob Wendelgass:

“When Scott Pruitt isn’t doing everything he can to try to weaken protections for clean water and public health, he’s wasting taxpayer money or flouting the rules to pad the pockets of his friends and protect the bottom lines of corporate polluters. His destructive agenda and his corrupt behavior go hand-in-hand — he thinks he can get away with both if he keeps giving special interests what they want. It’s dangerous behavior from a public official and it has to stop. Scott Pruitt needs to go.”

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Jeff Carter

“As a public official, Scott Pruitt has shown a lot more interest in whatever perks and advantages he can extract from his position than in advancing the mission of the agency he was tasked to run. He attacks environmental rules and regulations with a prosecutor’s zeal, but with a view of the law not as an instrument of justice, but as a card in a stacked deck, designed to further empower and enrich special interests at the expense of health, the environment, and the less powerful.”

Hip Hop Caucus, Rev Lennox Yearwood Jr., President & CEO

“Pruitt puts his ego and polluter profits over people. It’s outrageous that he thinks he can waste our taxpayer dollars with no consequences. What’s even more tragic is that he continues to roll the dice with our lives. His actions continue to undermine our health and the future of the planet. He needs to go now.”

National Parks Conservation Association, President & CEO Theresa Pierno:

“From day one, Scott Pruitt has demonstrated time and again that his goal is not to hold

the very polluters jeopardizing our air, waters and national parks accountable, but instead to protect them. The Environmental Protection Agency should do just that—protect the environment. The agency, and all it was created to safeguard, deserves a leader befitting of this critical work. As we feared at his confirmation, and as he has shown in the time since, Scott Pruitt is not that person.”

Sierra Club, Executive Director Michael Brune:

“Scott Pruitt is the definition of the swamp, with new ethical and abuse of power scandals breaking virtually every day for the past two weeks. Its past time for Pruitt to resign or be fired, particularly now that some of his most absurd actions are being ruled illegal. Every day Scott Pruitt stays at the EPA is another day he embarasses Donald Trump, and our entire country.”

Natural Resources Defense Council, President Rhea Suh:

“With each new investigation, Scott Pruitt’s disregard for ethics and the rule of law is becoming increasingly egregious and unacceptable. And so is his blatant hostility to the central mission of the EPA, which is to protect public health and the environment. Enough is enough. It’s time for him to go.’”

Greenpeace USA, Executive Director Annie Leonard

“Scott Pruitt’s brazen disrespect for both the environment and our democracy is beyond offensive–it’s one of the most catastrophic consequences of the Trump administration. Scott Pruitt is insulting every person in America by living a life of luxury on the taxpayer’s dime while committed to destroying our environment, our air, our water, and our climate. It’s time for Scott Pruitt to resign, or be fired, before he does any more damage to our country.”

iMatter Youth, Maddie Adkins, Core Team:

“Future generations will have to deal with the consequences of climate change. If the administrator of the EPA cannot be trusted to make decisions that will preserve the planet and protect the futures of our country’s youth, then he needs to go.”

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Executive Director Katie Huffling

“As a public health agency, the EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. In his tenure at the EPA, Scott Pruitt has rolled back essential public health safeguards, which are putting communities at risk for negative health impacts from climate change and exposures to dirty air and water. The communities and families nurses care for deserve an EPA Administrator who is committed to putting public health first. Pruitt is not that person.”

SustainUS, Executive Coordinator Garrett Blad:

“As a public official, Scott Pruitt is trusted to protect the common good. Instead, he is doing everything in his power to damage the lives of young people in this country by handing federal regulating over to fossil fuel executives and lobbyists, giving out bonuses to his friends, and wasting public money to play by his own rules. Scott Pruitt cannot be trusted to safeguard our health or our nation’s democratic principles and should be removed. ”

Montana Environmental Information Center, Deputy Director Anne Hedges

”Scott Pruitt is making Montana’s pollution problems worse. In places such as Colstrip, Montana there are 800 acres of leaking coal ash ponds that have polluted ground and surface waters. The passage of the federal coal ash rule by the Obama Administration was a welcome relief and promised to finally get a handle on the problem in Montana and across the nation. Now Pruitt is trying to undo that rule and put polluters in the driver’s seat – the same polluters who caused the problem in the first place. It’s unconscionable, but that seems to be Pruitt’s middle name. This is just one example of many. He is unethical, imprudent, and more concerned about protecting polluters than public health. It’s time to draw the line.”

Gasp, Executive Director Michael Hansen:

“Scott Pruitt cannot be trusted to lead the agency tasked with protecting our air, land, water, and health. Time and again, he has shown himself to be openly hostile to healthy air, clean water, and basic science. By undermining public health safeguards and undoing critical environmental protections, Scott Pruitt has put all of us at increased risk for cancers, asthma, lung disease, and other illnesses. Pruitt should never have been put in charge of the EPA, and we now have ample evidence to prove it. Scott Pruitt has to go.”

Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife:

“Wildlife rely on clean water, clean air and a balanced ecosystem for their survival. Scott Pruitt’s policies at the EPA threaten all of these. He has dismantled environmental protections and abused his position as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s time for Scott Pruitt and his policies to go.”



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Legislative Riders Poison House Farm Bill

For Immediate Release, April 12, 2018

Contact: Gwen Dobbs, Defenders of Wildlife, 202-772-0269,

WASHINGTON (April 12, 2018) — Rep. Mike Conaway (R- TX) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives today reauthorizing the farm bill. In addition to addressing traditional agricultural and food policy, the farm bill has major implications for wildlife and our environment. The House legislation contains toxic riders, including a particularly egregious one that would exempt pesticides from key Endangered Species Act protections and others that would weaken species protections and severely weaken safeguards on national forestlands.  

Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO, Jamie Rappaport Clark, issued the following statement:

“The House legislation hijacks the farm bill. Important legislation has been turned into a vehicle for attacking bedrock environmental laws and damaging our wildlife and national forests. The severe overrides of the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act would allow the killing of endangered wildlife and the dumping of pesticides in waterways, with virtually no legal consequences.

“A real ‘poison pill’ rider added to the bill should raise anew Rachel Carson’s warning in ‘Silent Spring’ issued so many years ago. The rider eviscerates Endangered Species Act requirements for the Environmental Protection Agency to work with the expert fish and wildlife agencies when approving pesticide use, while shielding the pesticide industry from liability for harming endangered wildlife. This reckless provision gives the pesticide industry a free pass to poison pollinators and hundreds of endangered and threatened species with potentially dangerous chemicals.

“In addition, the forestry title is a massive attack on environmental safeguards for clean drinking water, endangered species, forest restoration and science-based decision making on our forests. It exempts 6,000-acre-logging projects from even basic review and oversight under the National Environmental Policy Act—doubling the size of the largest existing exemptions—and adds a long list of new exemptions; directs the forest service to ignore impacts to endangered species and wilderness areas, when approving the use of these exemptions. What’s more, it exempts the Forest Service from important consultations with wildlife experts under the Endangered Species Act.

“Members of Congress interested in passing a farm bill should oppose these and other riders that will only serve to stop the legislative process in its tracks. Congress should craft a balanced bill that serves the needs of the agricultural community while protecting the fish, wildlife, and plants that depend on private lands and forests nationwide.”


The Farm Bill is the marquee legislative responsibility of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill about every five years. The current 2014 Farm Bill is set to expire on September 30, 2018.
The Farm Bill is the largest source of federal funds for habitat conservation on private lands. Two-thirds of land in the lower 48 states is privately owned, and more than 40 percent of that is managed for agriculture. Many species of conservation concern, including federally protected and candidate species, depend on private lands. Conservation of these lands is essential to their recovery.
Title IX drastically weakens important requirements under the Endangered Species Act that address the effects of toxic pesticides on threatened and endangered species including Pacific salmon, black-footed ferrets, and butterflies. This damaging language would exempt pesticide manufacturers and users from liability under Section 9 of the Act for killing endangered wildlife. It would also remove the requirement under ESA Section 7 for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with expert federal wildlife agencies to assess the effects of toxic and potentially dangerous pesticide products on endangered and threatened species. Instead, the bill allows EPA to make its own self-interested determinations regarding the impacts of pesticides on endangered species, and removes any requirements for the EPA to make those determinations within a reasonable timeframe. For pesticides that are already registered, the EPA would not be required to complete reviews until 2026 or 2033 and for pesticides registered after enactment of this language, the EPA would have four whole years after the registration date to complete species-related reviews. On January 25, over 250 conservation, consumer, agricultural and other public interest groups sent a letter to Congress opposing all efforts to weaken essential on-the-ground protections from pesticides for listed species. This title also undermines important Clean Water Act permitting safeguards for pesticides directly sprayed into waterways.
Title VIII exempts logging operations up to 6000 acres (double current exemptions) from safeguards under the National Environmental Policy Act.  It adds new exemptions, rolls back other safeguards under the current law – allowing for exempt logging in the back country and diluting resources away from addressing fire issues near where people live.  
Defenders of Wildlife developed recommendations for the farm bill. The priority recommendations are available here; the complete recommendations are available here.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

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National Parks Group Files Lawsuit to Defend Mojave Desert Parks, Wildlife and Water

For Immediate Release, April 3, 2018

Contact: Kati Schmidt, (415) 728-0840,

WASHINGTON (April 3, 2017)— National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia against leadership in the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). NPCA alleges that soon after taking office, the Administration abruptly changed policy and procedures to allow uses of railroad rights-of-way that can threaten important resources, including national parks and national monuments, without federal environmental review or authorization. Pointing to the Cadiz, Inc. water mining project, a Trump administration infrastructure priority, NPCA alleges that Interior’s new policy illegally green-lighted the construction and operation of a pipeline across federal lands without a permit or environmental review. The Cadiz Inc. proposal threatens fragile springs, wildlife and water resources in Mojave Trails National Monument and Mojave National Preserve.

“National Parks Conservation Association has fought the ill-advised Cadiz Inc. proposal for two decades, and we won’t let up now. As the Trump Administration attempts to advance this proposal, our resolve is only strengthened to continue to defend our national parks and public lands,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association. “The Department of Interior has silenced science by illegally blocking federal environmental review of this harmful California desert project. Since the Interior Department has disregarded its obligation to protect California’s groundwater and iconic national parks and the tourism economies they support, we must step in and defend these fragile, special places.”

The lawsuit challenges a Department of Interior Solicitor’s Opinion from 2017, which removed federal oversight of projects using certain railroad rights-of-way, allowing developers to evade required federal review for projects that could impact national parks and other public lands. This illegal action has blocked scientists from the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey from reviewing and regulating the Cadiz project, as required by law. Federal scientists have previously found that Cadiz Inc. would extract up to 25 times more groundwater than is naturally recharged, severely damaging resources throughout the Mojave Desert.

The lawsuit also challenges the BLM’s application of the new policy, through a 2017 determination that the construction and operation of a 43-mile long water conveyance pipeline within the Mojave Trails National Monument may proceed without a Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) permit. The administration’s change of position also enables projects such as Cadiz, Inc.’s to avoid federal environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Even before taking office, the Trump Administration’s transition team targeted the Cadiz Inc. proposal as one to fast-track. The project, which aims to pump 16 billion gallons of water annually for 50 years from fragile Mojave Desert aquifers, was listed on the transition team’s “Emergency & National Security” infrastructure priority list.

“We are fighting the Trump administration’s decisions on behalf of our 1.3 million members and supporters and the community members, tribes and all who do not want to see these reckless actions harm Mojave National Preserve and California’s largest national monument, Mojave Trails,” said Pierno.

Polling released earlier this year by the Hispanic Access Foundation found that more than two-thirds of California voters agree the Cadiz project will harm the national park and monument. NPCA is represented in this lawsuit by the U.C. Irvine Environmental Law Clinic.


About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit

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