Evergreen Issues: Carbon emission standards rolled back, Pruitt goes around the White House and how drones could help fight fire

Every Tuesday we bring you issues that impact you as an outdoor loving woman. Whether it has to do with climate change or female empowerment, we scour the internet, including government bills, social media and local and national news, and deliver it to you – so you know.

1. the epa starts rollback of carbon emission standards

The current standards, set by the Obama Administration, are just not appropriate”, according to Team Trump and EPA Director Scott Pruitt.

So what does that mean? The Environmental Protection Agency wants to reduce greenhouse gas emission standards for model year 2022-2025 cars and light trucks. The agency made the announcement Monday. The Verge reports President Trump has said the standards are “out of control.”

The current standards were created in 2012, the Verge said, at a time when the feds had to bail out American automakers, oil prices were higher and SUV sales were low. Now, Pruitt says, falling oil prices and a growing preference in crossovers are the major reasons for new rules.

The EPA will need to work with the National Transportation Safety Board to come up with new rules, and then seek public comment about them.

2. pruitt gives big raises to staffers without white approval

Speaking of Scott Pruitt, the Atlantic broke a story this morning about the EPA head giving enormous raises to two of his aides, without getting approval inside the White House.

The Atlantic reports that Pruitt actually went to the White House to get approval, but it was denied. The staffers, Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, came to Washington with Pruitt from Oklahoma.

“Greenwalt, a 30-year-old who had worked as Pruitt’s general counsel in Oklahoma, was now his senior counsel at the EPA. Hupp, 26, was working on his political team before she moved to D.C. to become the agency’s scheduling director.”

Atlantic reporter Sean O’Kane said the EPA director asked for Greenwalt’s salary to be raised from $107,435 to $164,200 and Hupp’s, from $86,460 to $114,590. Both women were political appointees, so that’s why he needed White House approval.

When the raises were denied, Pruitt found a loophole:

“A provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act allows the EPA administrator to hire up to 30 people into the agency, without White House or congressional approval. The provision, meant to help expedite the hiring of experts and allow for more flexible staffing, became law in 1996. In past administrations, it has been used to hire specialists into custom-made roles in especially stressed offices, according to Bob Perciasepe, a former acting EPA administrator.”

Essentially, Pruitt reappointed the aides under this authority so he could have total control over their contracts.

3. drones to help fight wildfires

U.S. Air Force photo

It won’t be long before wildfire season arrives, and this time around, the Washington Post reports, the federal government wants to use drones in the fight.

During a test run last year, in Southern Oregon, a drone caught sight of a “spot fire” that had broken out beyond the main line. The Bureau of Land Management estimated the early catch saved the government $50 million in land and infrastructure value.

With last year’s Western wildfire season one of the worst on record, everyone from lawmakers to wildland firefighters to scientists are looking for ways to minimize the natural disaster’s impact on life – both within and outside public land.