To Plymouth Harbor Democrats...and others who care February, 2019
The fossil fuel giants will have their way with this administration – and threaten our beaches. From US News 1/15/19: Things are happening at the federal level that impact oil drilling and, potentially, Florida. In November, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued "incidental harassment authorizations" that will allow five companies to use seismic airguns to explore potential oil and gas fields off the Atlantic coast from Delaware to Cape Canaveral in central Florida. (The “incidental harassment” is to sea life.) Attorneys General from 10 states (but not Florida) and several conservation groups are suing the fisheries service and its boss, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in an effort to impede the seismic survey process... Meanwhile, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is about to grant drilling permits, authorizing action after the seismic surveys locate fertile fields. Also, if Congress does nothing to extend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, a moratorium on oil drilling and exploration, it will expire in 2022. Environmentalists say the subsequent legal vacuum would invite drilling in the eastern Gulf, close to Florida's west coast. Taking us further backward, Trump proposes allowing construction of new coal plants without any meaningful pollution safeguards.
And the swamp gets swampier. The nominee for head of EPA Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist, acknowledged he hasn’t even read the full report written by experts at his own agency on climate change – and plans to pursue deregulation of dangerous mercury emissions and relax fuel emissions standards. Scott Hutchins, nominated as chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be the third member of Dow AgroSciences’ pesticide and seed division to hold a high-level position in the administration’s USDA. Lobbyists from Big Pharma now in Health and Human Services, Boeing execs in Defense, fossil fuel and water industry lobbyist at Interior; our U.N. Rep is a former Fox News person. Factoid: EPA criminal action against polluters hit a 30 year low in 2018 in the number of pollution cases it referred for criminal prosecution. Enforcement activities have also been curtailed at the Consumer Financial Protection Board, designed as a consumer watchdog agency. Are we moving more and more to a Government of and by the Corporations? Some good news: the U.S. House of Representatives will hold hearings on gun violence.
And in Florida – Gov. DeSantis wasted no time appointing three conservative judges to the highest state court (one not ever having been a judge but very conservative) and calling for a “Florida Deregathon”. One can only hope that what the Governor calls “hurting our businesses”, ”costly “ and stifling competition, some of the deregulation will not endanger the physical or financial health of the average Floridian when licensing requirements are relaxed. It's more than a month til the Florida legislature is in session for voting on bills. But committees are meeting, hearing and moving on proposals. In Education, requiring public schools to offer elective Bible courses and for the teaching of “controversial” science theories and concepts in a “factual, objective and balanced manner” (possibly challenging climate science and evolution). There has yet to be clarification as to whether the return of voting rights will be made difficult. Again religious and political rather than medical opinion are shaping women's reproductive rights and access to a legal medical procedure. Bills have been submitted to limit access to abortion to 20 weeks (federal law, now in jeopardy, is 24 weeks) and to 6 weeks (when a woman may not even know she is pregnant).
Some dates of interest: Feb 5 – 6 p.m. Selby Library; Dr. Dale Anderson on How Fascism Works; no charge. Feb 11 – 7 p.m. Dem Club of SRQ & Dem Environmental Caucus; Futurist David Houle on Climate Change; info & reservation: <www.sarasotadems.com>. Feb 12 – LBK lunch; info at <www.lbkdems.com>.. Feb 24 – Democratic Party King-Kennedy Dinner; info & reservation: <www.sarasotadems.org/event/kennedyking2019/>.
Your comments and suggestions welcomed here.