It's official, as of this afternoon. Democratic Senators have announced enough votes opposing Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court seat stolen by Republicans, to successfully hold a filibuster and block the nominee in the U.S. Senate. 42 Dems are now on board (enough to prevent the 60 votes currently needed to end a filibuster.) So, it's now up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the rest of the Republicans to use the so-called "nuclear option" to do away with the filibuster rule for SCOTUS nominations all together. Just three Republican defections, however, would prevent the filibuster rule from being scuttled by majority vote.
In the meantime, the opposition to Trump's faltering attempts at policy making — particularly policies meant to try and roll back Barack Obama's environment and climate legacy — continue to face new legal challenges. Today, a number of state Attorneys General announced their intention to challenge the Administration's costly suspension of energy efficiency standards; last Thursday, environmental groups filed suit to block the State Department's approval of the controversial KeystoneXL pipeline; and, just one day after Trump's so-called "Energy Independence" executive order was signed on Tuesday, Earth Justice sued to overturn Trump's lifting of Obama's moratorium on new coal leases on public lands and a review of royalty rates paid under the program to the government by the dying coal industry (which, as we also discuss, now employs fewer workers than Arby's, car washes or even U.S. theme parks!)
Jenny Harbine, the lead attorney in Earth Justice's case (PDF) against the Administration, joins us to explain the new lawsuit, as well as the one the same group filed against the Obama Administration in 2014, which led to the moratorium in the first place.
"Trump made a lot of campaign promises to his cronies in the coal industry," she tells me. "But the President has a legal obligation, that courts have enforced for decades, to engage in rational decision-making, to make decisions that are based on science. And here it couldn't be clearer that the directive that came down from Trump (to lift the moratorium) last week, was based solely on politics, and not on science."
She explains how the policy not only "flies in the face of the reality we all face as a nation and a world on climate change," but also how Trump's various claims at attempting to help coal miners is as likely to ultimately harm them, by keeping the federal government from investing in investing and retraining workers for the now-unstoppable renewable energy future.
"Trump's short-sighted attempt to revive a dying coal industry through subsidized leasing" is little more than "an attempt, really, to line the pockets of coal industry executives" while causing "real harm to real people and communities that are depending on the federal government to look after our interests," Harbine explains, adding: "I fear that those workers will be left in the dust."
Finally today, bad news for 180,000 low-income Kansans hoping to receive health care under Republican rule in the state, and the L.A. Times Editorial Board issues a remarkable series of anti-Trump editorials.
Have you heard the news? Sign up to our Telegram channel and we'll keep you up to speed!