EPA Deregulation, Climate Change and Scott Pruitt
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014 produced, by reviewing 30,000 scientific documents, by 800 scientists from 80 countries, the most definitive scientific declaration to date that the climate change we are experiencing is man-made. There are also thousands of jobs in the newer, less polluting energy industries in the US that have arisen from our expansion into renewable energy in the last 8 years. Yet, the Trump administration has talked about pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords. It has proposed major cuts to the EPA budget. It has blocked the Waters Of The United States (WOTUS) Act. It is attempting to turn back the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards that would save over 2 billion barrels of oil reduce CO2 emissions by 1.1 billion metric tons and generate a social benefit of $230 billion over the 10 years following its enactment. It has placed Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, a man with deep connections to the oil and gas industry with no science experience, and no demonstrated public interest in protecting our environment or public health.
- Isn’t turning our back on newer technologies to replace older fuels, technologies that are less polluting of our environment, as well as larger job creators, ignoring our future to embrace the past?
- Isn’t it prudent to act “as if” scientists were correct, just in case they are–especially since there are thousands of jobs and wealth producing potential in clean energy, e.g., the wind farm industry in Texas; and solar farms in California, Arizona and Nevada?
- With the Trump/Pruitt plans to downsize the E.P.A. and roll back its regulations what will you do to maintain the trust of the American people that this government will keep our environment safe for present and future generations?
- What steps will you take to protect and improve how the E.P.A. functions, and preserve its mission to keep Americans healthy, our environment safe and preserve our resources for future generations?
- (Paul/McConnell) Knowing what we know now about Scott Pruitt’s stance in relation to the agency he heads, will this influence the remaining confirmation hearings for E.P.A. posts when/if submitted? What will you be looking for in the upcoming nominees?
- How will you safeguard our environment, public health and trust in government’s oversight of businesses that are responsible for large quantities of carbon dioxide and/or other air and water pollutants?
Foreign Aid and Foreign Policy
The State Department is one of the most cost-effective use of tax dollars by the US government. For what are pennies per dollar of military spending, the US foreign service reduces tensions, provides needed aid to starving people, immunizations, education and helps improve the lives of those struggling to survive in the world with needed resources. With a refugee crisis, larger than any since WWII, sectarian violence, climate change and global warming threatening world stability, the US foreign service serves as a beacon of hope in an otherwise tumultuous world. The US foreign aid makes up less than 1% of the entire Federal Budget and the US diplomatic core represents an essential part of US National defense. US aid provides help and support to those in need while the US diplomatic core provides valuable intelligence about what is going on in foreign countries. In spite of the multiplier effect provided by limited US dollars, the present administration has decided to cut the US aid and US foreign service budget drastically. This creates a situation in which the US foreign service will be grossly under-funded and unable to function effectively or at all in major parts of the world.
- What signal does cutting back our bond with other people in the world send them regarding US interests in their problems?
- At a time when there is so much instability in the world, do you think it is wise to reduce US funding for the one department of government that is the most cost effective in helping others in the world?
- Please explain how the mission of the USAID which is to make nations better, safer, more prosperous and to spread human dignity and opportunity is not in the interest of the US to continue supporting for our own security?
- Do you think the failure of the US to help others in the world is going to lead to a more stable or more dystopic world? Do you believe less aid reduces terrorism, or makes it more prevalent?
- When 61% of Americans believe in combating hunger and 78% of Americans support helping poor countries develop their economies, please explain why you are not outraged at this Administration’s suggestion of cutting foreign aid?
- Will Barr/McConnell/Paul work to restore and facilitate the replacement of all personnel and funding needed to have a strong and viable Department of State with adequate resources for foreign aid to help address the needs of other nations?
- If not, why not? Please explain and elaborate.
- Starving the State Department is dangerous for America. Please RESTORE the normal budget for the State Department, the U.S. International AID Agency and the US Information Service. It is criminal and a dereliction of duty NOT to fund these key organizations, and can lead the disastrous challenge to American well-being.
- Please persuade the President to end Steve Bannon’s connection with the government and terminate the services of those of his staff who have been meddling with the Russians. No matter what the President thinks, this is not proper activity for an American official.
Department of Education Policy on Federal Family Education Loans
Last week, President Trump’s Department of Education reversed course on an important issue concerning student loans. In 2015, the Obama administration established a policy that borrowers with defaulted Federal Family Education Loans (FFELs) could not be charged additional fees by their guarantee agencies if they entered into agreements to address their defaults within two months.
Trump’s Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education, Lynn Mahaffie, issued new guidance that effectively reverses that decision. Guarantee agencies will no longer be obliged to follow the Obama-era policy on this issue, freeing them – at least for the time being – to levy additional fees on borrowers acting in fair faith to make good on their defaulted student loans.
- Do you agree with the Trump administration’s decision to allow guarantee agencies to add more collection fees to older federally backed student loans?
- If yes, how do you justify punishing borrowers acting in good faith by reversing rules in midstream?
- If no, how do you plan to fight for borrowers who were already at risk of financial drowning before this decision was announced?