As the GOP's devastating tax cuts increases for millions of low- and middle-income Americans and seniors move forward in the US Senate, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, tweeted out three different anti-Muslim propaganda videos initially posted by a member of a far-right extremist nationalist party in the UK called Britain First. The disturbing postings by the President of what are being described as "ISIS snuff films", drew worldwide statements of condemnation from conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May and many other members of Parliament, as well as Muslim and Jewish groups in the US, academics and more. But, at least one person, in addition to Britain First, thanked Trump for the postings: David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK. We discuss this rather embarrassing and dispiriting moment in American history.
Then, we take a much-needed shower before heading to Charleston, West Virginia, where the (now, ironically named) Environmental Protection Agency is holding its one and only hearing on EPA Chief Scott Pruitt's plan to kill Obama's Clean Power Plan, a landmark measure meant to curb dangerous greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Environment reporter EMILY ATKIN of New Republic joins us from WV, after spending the past two days at the forum which she describes as a "tragedy" and a "farce", featuring testimony from coal barons like Robert Murray, CEO of the nation's largest private coal company — who brought his employees in full mining regalia, hard hats and all, to the hearing room — as well as from environmentalists who were allowed to testify, but were largely relegated to separate rooms entirely.
Atkin discusses what the hearings suggest about the current EPA, which is now doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry itself, as well as how industry leaders and Republican officials admit that coal has a bleak future — thanks to cleaner, cheaper natural gas and renewable energy — even while lying about it to those directly suffering in Coal Country, like miners and their families.
The miners, she tells me, "completely buy into" the industry's "War on Coal" propaganda. "And that was what I think is the tragedy of the whole thing. They accept that there has been decline in the industry. The miners that I spoke to — and just the average coal supporting people in West Virginia that I spoke to — completely attribute it to Obama-era regulations, and completely believe what they're being told by coal executives and Republican politicians, that once (the Clean Power Plan) is gone, everything's going to be okay. And their industry is going to thrive again in the way that it used to…. It's the hypocrisy of these executives and these politicians who go in front of the miners and tell them everything's going to be okay when, in other settings, they well admit that the decline of coal is happening no matter what."
Atkin describes her brief conversation at the hearing with Murray, and how his own employees there contradicted one of his claims. And she explains how, though Pruitt chose to hold the forum in Charleston in order "to hear from those most impacted" by the Clean Power Plan, there are many others, in non-coal states, that are "equally affected", including those "communities that surround emitting coal plants (and) communities that surround coal ash pits that hold coal's toxic waste that can seep into groundwater and into water systems."
"The fence-line communities that live near producing plants, which often are disproportionately low-income and minority communities, those aren't based in West Virginia. And I would argue that they are just as impacted by the Clean Power Plan as a coal miner. And yet, the EPA doesn't have any scheduled public hearings in any of those areas."
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report, with some of the most encouraging news of the day, before a bit of breaking news out of the UN on Trump's continuing threats of war against North Korea.
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