environment

Vernon Ehlers, Former Longtime Michigan Congressman, Dies at 83
Ehlers was known as champion of the Great Lakes and science education

As a congressman from Michigan, Vernon Ehlers used his physics background to advance environmental and STEM legislation for nearly two decades. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The first research physicist ever elected to Congress, Vernon J. Ehlers was known for his legislative work to bolster scientific research and education, raise fuel economy standards, and protect clean air and water.

Ehlers, who represented Western Michigan in Congress for nearly two decades, died Tuesday at the age of 83. His death was confirmed by the Zaagman Memorial Chapel in Grand Rapids, which did not immediately indicate the cause of death, The Detroit News reported.

How Climate Change Impacts Congressional Districts Over Next 80 Years
A Roll Call analysis also reveals how concerned people are, by district

(Photo courtesy iStock)

Two recent studies explored the climate debate at the local level. The authors of a report by Climate Impact Lab, published in Science magazine, ran 29,000 simulations to project the economic damage that could result from climate change between 2080 and 2099 in the U.S.

Researchers at Yale and George Mason universities created a model that estimates opinions on climate change in specific communities. Roll Call combined the two in this analysis, by congressional district.

Democrats Want Probe of Interior Scientists' Reassignments

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and other Democrats are concerned the administration is reassigning scientists to try to get rid of them. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats at a hearing for Interior and Energy Department nominees seized on the published comments of an Interior scientist who claims that Secretary Ryan Zinke was using forced reassignments to coax experienced scientists to resign.

The top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Maria Cantwell of Washington, said at the Thursday hearing that she will ask Interior’s Inspector General to investigate the allegations raised by the scientist, Joel Clement, in an op-ed published by The Washington Post.

Capitol Ink | On Thinning Ice

House Takes Up Bill to Delay Ozone Rule Compliance

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to alter the current standards for ground level ozone pollution, something the House bill would give him legal cover for. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans plan to vote this week on a measure that would delay the compliance date for an Obama-era ground level ozone standard that they say would put an undue economic burden on industry.

The bill (HR 806) would also give legal cover to the Environmental Protection Agency as its administrator, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, looks to replace the current standards with levels more flexible for states and their economic development plans.

Climate Change Activists Flood Capitol to Lobby Lawmakers
Merkley, Whitehouse and Fitzpatrick address concerned parents

Children join in as organizers set up a play area on the Upper Senate Lawn Thursday as part of the fourth annual “play in” demonstration on the Hill organized by Moms Clean Air Force. (Griffin Connolly/CQ Roll Call)

Climate change activists from all 50 states met with more than 150 lawmakers and staffers on Capitol Hill on Thursday, armed with personal anecdotes and data booklets to persuade members to take action on environmental issues such as air pollution and global warming.

The meetings were part of the fourth annual “play in” demonstration, organized by the anti-pollution advocacy group Moms Clean Air Force, which brought parents and their children to the Hill.

'Clean Coal' Tax Credit Gets a New Bipartisan Push in Senate

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has teamed up with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to push for tax credits for the so-called clean coal technology. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As investors give up on a Mississippi carbon-capture coal plant and the Trump administration continues to push for “beautiful clean coal,” a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday reintroduced a bill to expand a tax credit in hopes of spurring investment in the costly technology.

The measure, with co-sponsors ranging from climate hawk Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., to coal-state stalwart Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., would extend and enhance a tax credit, known as Section 45Q, that rewards facilities that capture carbon emissions for either storage or enhanced oil recovery purposes.

EPA Budget Cuts Won't Fly, House Appropriators Tell Pruitt

House appropriators, both Republicans and Democrats, were opposed to the cuts to the EPA budget defended by its administrator, Scott Pruitt. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s defense of the administration’s proposal to his agency’s budget by 30 percent are falling short with House appropriators, who are making clear that they’ll toss it aside when they write their Interior-Environment spending bill.

The sharp cuts proposed in the President Donald Trump’s budget are “untenable,” Interior-Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert told Pruitt at a hearing, a sharp rebuke from a key appropriator.

Tillerson Says He Still Believes in Paris Pact, But Backs Trump
‘My views were heard out. I respect that the president heard my views.’

Secretary of State nominee Rex Wayne Tillerson testifies during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has previously backed the U.S. staying in the Paris climate agreement, told lawmakers on Tuesday that his views have “never changed” but that he respects President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the international accord aimed at slowing global warming.

Tillerson was speaking at a budget hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where the panel’s top Democrat, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, asked if he had changed his position on the agreement ahead of the president’s decision or whether the move was “just a political decision” by the administration.

Neighborhood Dispute: The D.C.-Maryland Lawsuit and Donald Trump
White House brushes aside suit, but conflict with home region is real

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, right, and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh conduct a news conference on a lawsuit they filed Monday against President Donald Trump, alleging he violated the U.S. Constitution by accepting foreign payments through his businesses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine can see the top of the Trump International Hotel from his Penn Quarter office. Whenever he looks at it, he sees the U.S. Constitution being trampled by President Donald Trump.

Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced Monday they have filed a lawsuit against Trump claiming his business ties violate the U.S. Constitution’s “Emoluments Clause.” By doing so, they fired the latest salvo in an ongoing battle between the Trump White House and the city and region it calls home.