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While most of the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency are in a seemingly endless shutdown limbo, the priorities of the Trump Administration go on without a hitch. Two high profile examples came to light over the weekend — the preparation for newly nominated Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation hearing and the busiest offices of the Bureau of Land Management are opening today to process oil and gas drilling permits.
The Hill reported on Friday that Acting Administrator Wheeler, whose nomination was only formally sent to the Senate on Wednesday of last week, will have a confirmation hearing in the Senate on the 16th, even as Dems protest that his hearing prep is being considered essential business at EPA.
And, the Casper Star-Tribune reported on Friday that the four busiest field offices of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — those in Wyoming — will open so that they can process applications for permits to drill, but with with a small staff and limits on what they can do, according to memo the Petroleum Association of Wyoming cited by the paper.
Bloomberg News reported last week that Interior Department is still issuing permits for oil companies to drill wells on federal land and in the Gulf of Mexico and is moving forward on oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other parts of Alaska.
But Bloomberg reported that fishing boats are unable to get permits in Alaska, and the public meeting for a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts is on hold.
Why This Matters: The shutdown is inherently unfair. The Trump Administration is politicizing the determination of what is an “essential” government function — which is the key for what activities go on and which do not — in ways that favor oil and gas and other special interests close to the President and other political appointees. It is government “for” only certain favored people and businesses — like oil and gas. The only upside to Wheeler getting his hearing during the shutdown is that at least Democratic Senators can grill him about it.
To Go Deeper: Watch the CBS News video below about the hardship the shutdown is causing for individual employees at EPA and the Interior Department.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer As the domestic electric vehicle market in the United States continues to hit its stride and new competitors vie in the race to electrify, Lucid Motors has emerged as an ultra-luxury competitor to EV darling Tesla Motors. This week, Lucid went public through a SPAC with Churchill Capital Corp […]
The Texas freeze and subsequent blackouts have given the Biden administration the chance to show the country how it will handle natural disasters, and they’ve already done one thing much differently than the Trump administration: acknowledged the role of climate change. And now, due to surge pricing, Texans are facing utility bills in the thousands of dollars for what little heat they got.
Why This Matters: The Biden administration wasted no time declaring an emergency and stating it would review preparation for future storms.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Clumps of sticky oil washed up on Israel’s Mediterranean beaches this weekend after a tanker was suspected of leaking. Officials are calling it one of the country’s “most serious ecological disasters” that has already seriously harmed marine life, including sea turtles and a fin whale that washed up dead […]
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