First today, Donald Trump goes to Mexico for a brief visit with the Mexican President. Our coverage is mercifully even briefer. Then, the Scalia-free US Supreme Court splits 4 to 4 in response to North Carolina's emergency attempt to stay a blistering ruling from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in late July, where the state Republicans' massive voter suppression law was struck down after being found to have been enacted with "racially discriminatory intent" that "target(ed) African-American with almost surgical precision". The tie at SCOTUS means the lower court's ruling, nixing the law, will stand, even though four Justices (guess which ones) on the highest court in the land would have preferred to keep a law broadly seen as the nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era in place for this November's Presidential election!
Speaking of elections, we review the results of several key races from Tuesday's state primaries in Arizona and Florida, where the reelection battles of Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio may determine the balance of the U.S. Senate this November. Also, the controversial Democratic FL Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz survives, as does controversial Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. But the news for Helen Purcell, Maricopa's Republican County Recorder in Phoenix, who many blame for the disastrous Presidential Primary in the state earlier this year, may have reached the end of her 30-year career, with just a few hundred votes (out of more than 25,000 cast) now hanging in the balance.
Then, why is the Obama Administration, which has placed a moratorium on new federal land leases to coal companies, still selling millions of acres of leases to oil and gas companies? Jeremy Nichols, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at WildEarth Guardians, who, with Physicians for Social Responsibility, filed a suit last week seeking a moratorium from the Administration's Bureau of Land Management on such auctions, joins me to discuss the landmark federal lawsuit.
"What we're seeing here is a pattern and practice of the Administration continuing to hand over rights to our public lands to the oil and gas industry," Nichols explains. "By leasing these lands, they basically convert them to the ownership of the industry, and industry can hang on to these lands for as long as they want. It really is what we call an irreversible commitment of public resources here."
He goes on to tell me that while, in many respects, the Obama Administration has been a champion for the climate and the environment, on this issue, it seems, they appear to have "a very serious blind spot."
"We feel that it's high time for this administration to apply the same scrutiny to the oil and gas program that is has applied to coal-fired power plants, its coal mining program, and other aspects of our fossil fuel consumption," says Nichols. "We are in essence condoning the release of a lot more carbon into our atmosphere and, at this moment in time, pumping more carbon into the atmosphere is the last thing that this administration — and we as the American public — should be condoning."
At the same time, he says, the fossil fuel industry is actually suing the Obama Administration for not making more land available to them. "It's really a shocking filing on their end," Nichols argues. "They're basically saying that even though they've gotten everything they want on our public lands — 10 million acres of our public lands since President Obama has taken office — that it's not enough for them."
Finally today, a few follow-ups on a number of stories we've been covering over the past week, from Maine Gov. Paul LePage's mental and political breakdown to the reports of an official law enforcement investigation into more high-level GOP voter registration fraud in Florida, this time by Trump's top campaign chief. Oh, and Vladimir Putin has been arrested at a supermarket in Florida! No, really!
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