With flooding from hurricanes and other climate disasters becoming the new normal, badly needed flood insurance reform continues to founder in the halls of Congress. The National Flood Insurance Program is billions of dollars in debt, and aid packages are doing little to get people out of flood-prone areas. Congress watchers will keep an eye on new House leadership for insurance solutions, although politically unpalatable rate hikes swamped the big reform. This week’s TipSheet has more on the story, with leads on what to watch in 2019.
"Trey Glenn, the administrator of EPA's Southeast branch who has been indicted on ethics charges, has stepped down."
"President Trump said Friday that he intends to nominate former industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as the Environmental Protection Agency’s next administrator, a move that would ensure a continued deregulatory push at the agency."
"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spent the Friday before last Christmas mingling with staffers and their dogs, then flew out of Washington for a 15-day holiday break. Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt was erasing the departmental handbook's climate change chapter."
"The woman in charge of studying climate change’s effects on U.S. managed cultural resources for the National Park Service (NPS) has resigned, citing that the administration’s unequal attention to natural resources."
"Amid scrutiny stemming from fresh revelations of rampant discrimination, bullying, retaliation and sexual misconduct at the U.S. Forest Service, the agency’s new chief pledged Thursday that she will “do everything in my power to put us on a path to no harassment.”"
"When Trey Glenn was seeking a top EPA job last year, one of his references was a lobbyist for Drummond Co., an Alabama-based coal firm. Now, the lobbyist is likely headed for federal lockup. And Glenn, the head of EPA's Atlanta-based Region 4 office, is under indictment for allegedly violating the state's ethics law."
The Society of Environmental Journalists last week objected to the White House suspension of CNN reporter Jim Acosta after a contentious briefing with President Donald Trump and the release of a doctored video of the incident. SEJ joined numerous other journalism groups in fighting what it called unacceptable censorship. Details in this month’s WatchDog TipSheet. Plus, science writers host an “info access summit,” a look at issues around secrecy at the Interior Department and the CNN pipe bomb.
What will a divided Congress mean for environment and energy issues? This week’s TipSheet explores the question by looking at the Democrats who will now lead key House committees once the new Congress is seated next year. Take a lightning tour of a half-dozen top panels, their anticipated leadership and the issues they tackle, including drinking water safety, environmental justice and climate change, infrastructure, science policy, natural resources and more.
"White House officials have identified Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as the Cabinet member most vulnerable to a congressional probe under a Democratic House majority in January, putting the colorful secretary closer into the president’s crosshairs, according to two senior administration officials briefed on the matter."