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7 November 2017: It hasn’t been a normal year.

It’s been a year to the day that Americans went into the polling booth and elected Donald Trump president.

Shortly after the election, I started this blog, which ran every weekday, for two reasons.

On the one hand, I wanted to keep track of Trump’s (and his cronies’) assault on American democracy; and there have been many.

On the other, I needed a space to vent my frustrations at a president, and at an administration that divides instead of unites; that stokes fear instead of hope; that looks and behaves more like the fascist dictatorships of the 1930s than any American administration in history.

With the passing of the this year, I’ve decided to move on from the daily writing of this blog, and focus some of my attention elsewhere.

I’ll still post in this space, though my contributions to the “Not a Normal Day” blog will be less frequent.

You’ll also be able to find my writing on Twitter, and at the Huffington Post, The Conversation, and Policy Options.

I wanted to take this opportunity today to thank you, sincerely, for reading my posts since November of 2016. Thanks for being on this journey with me, and for being part of the movement that I am confident will return honor and integrity to the great American experiment.

It’s Tuesday, the 7th of November, 2017; it hasn’t been a normal year.

6 November 2017: Not a normal day.

As last week was winding down, Administrator Scott Pruitt carried on with the process of remaking the science advisory process at the EPA.

Unlike last summer when he wiped clean the slate of scientific councilors informing the agency’s Office of Research and Development, Pruitt took aim at the heart of the EPA’s science advisory process: The Chartered Science Advisory Board (SAB), whose role is congressionally mandated, and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council (CASAC).

Pruitt said that the agency will no longer appoint scientists to these boards who have received EPA grants. Said Pruitt, “from this day forward, EPA advisory committee members will be financially independent from the agency.”

What a bunch of bullshit.

According to an investigative report from The New Republic, Michael Honeycutt, a toxicologist from the Texas Commission on Environment Quality, is pegged as the new Chair of the SAB; his state agency — that is the same state agency that pays Honeycutt’s salary — receives $48.5 million each year from the federal government, most of it from the EPA.

And, that’s not all.

Newly appointed CASAC advisor, James Boylan is from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which gets one-third of its funding from the EPA.

The North Carolina DEQ’s Donald van der Vaart works for an agency that received at least five EPA grants this year.

And, Bob Blanz, who will serve on both the SAB and the Board of Scientific Councillors, which advises the EPA’s Office of Research and Development, works for a state agency in Arkansas that just received $650,000 from EPA for water quality programs.

Here’s the bottom line: Scott Pruitt is a hypocrite.

But, in addition to being a hypocrite, Pruitt is a coward.

Rather, than having the guts to say he doesn’t care about what the country’s leading scientists have to say, he’s hiding behind some patently phony conflict-of-interest nonsense.

And, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Pruitt is taking these steps so he can stack the deck of EPA “science” advisors with people whose defining credential is that they are willing to go along with his deregulatory agenda because they are the ones who stand to benefit most from it.

The same goes for EPA and White House advisors like Nancy Beck and Kathleen Barnett-White.

It’s Monday, the 6th of November, 2017. It’s not a normal day.

You can find me on Twitter at @DecisionLab

2 November 2017: Not a normal day.

Donald Trump responded to the tragedy in New York by (a) calling the perpetuator an “animal” who should be sent to “Gitmo”, (b) vowing to cancel the diversity lottery program, (c) criticizing Chuck Schumer, and (d) complaining about excessive political correctness.

Juxtapose this with what Trump’s own spokesperson said: “This is an unspeakable tragedy. Today is a day for consoling the survivors and mourning those we lost.”

This is not normal.

Chuck Schumer said it best when he asked: “President Trump, where is your leadership? President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution — antiterrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York took Mr. Schumer’s comments further. About Trump he said, “you play into the hands of the terrorists to the extent that you disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society.”

Where is the leadership America needs? Who is going to step up?

It’s Thursday, November 2nd, 2017.

You can find me on Twitter at @DecisionLab

1 November 2017: Not a normal day.

Yesterday, Scott Pruitt announced that he was barring from federal service independent science advisors who have received research grants from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The basis for this decision: That no scientific adviser to the EPA should be burdened by, or appear to be burdened by, a conflict of interest with the agency.

So, of course, he also disqualified science advisors who have either received funding from regulated industry, or those who are employed by regulated industry.

Except that he didn’t. 

Scott Pruitt is recasting science advice at the EPA. Rather than using peer-reviewed science to inform a regulatory agenda, he is using industry opinions, masquerading as science, to rubber stamp his anti-Obama de-regulatory agenda.

We are nearing a day when Scott Pruitt will be able to put rules before the EPA’s Science Advisory Board for which he needs or wants the appearance of scientific credibility.  It’ll look better to Pruitt, and to Donald Trump’s base, if that scientific credibility comes from the SAB, and not the Heartland Institute or the American Chemical Society.

But given what Pruitt did to the SAB yesterday, science advice at EPA and the political agendas of the Heartland Institute and American Chemical Society will effectively be one in the same.

It’s the first of November, 2017. It’s not a normal Wednesday.

You can find me on Twitter at @DecisionLab

31 October 2017. Not a normal day.

Want to hear something really scary?

Carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere have surged to a record high. According to a warning from the United Nations, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are at their highest level in 800,000 years.  

You read that right: 800,000 years. 

If you though this year was unusually hot and destructive, buckle up. It’s only going to get worse.

Happy abnormal Halloween.

30 October 2017: Not a normal day.

Nineteen senators have written to Scott Pruitt questioning the methodology logic behind the decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

They write:

“At seemingly every turn, the 2017 Repeal proposal uses mathematical sleights of hand to over-state the costs of industry compliance with the 2015 Rule and understate the benefits that will be lost if the 2017 repeal is finalized.”

“Denying the science and fabricating the math may satisfy the agency’s paperwork requirements, but doing so will not satisfy the requirements of the law, nor will it slow the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, the inexorable rise in sea levels, or the other dire effects of global warming that our planet is already experiencing,”

The letter specifically questions the repeal’s stance on the health effects of pollution, its overstatement of the cost of the Clean Power Plan, and the understatement of the plan’s benefits.

A government agency that denies science and places public health at risk is not normal.

Welcome to Monday, October 30, 2017.

You can find me on Twitter at @DecisionLab

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