Week in review: June 2

Breaking ties with Paris, Dakota Access ships oil and we’ll never forget “covfefe.”


Trump pulls the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he will pull the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement. Leaving the agreement puts our country alongside just two non-participating countries: Syria, which is in the midst of a civil war, and Nicaragua. The Washington Post reports: “Even countries such as Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are among the poorest in the world and were struggling with an Ebola epidemic at the time, have signed on.”

How might this impact the West? Even as Trump walks back the country’s climate commitments, the West will continue to green because the region has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector by shifting from coal to renewable energy. And even if there’s not federal leadership on climate action, states like California continue to lead the way. Check out this story on California’s utility commission recruiting of disenfranchised climate researchers in government for renewable energy jobs. And this story, from CityLab, highlights five ways cities can fight climate change without the accord.

What we’re reading: The Washington Post fact-checked Trump’s announcement, finding it full of misleading and false statements. Here’s just one: Trump said China is able “to build hundreds of coal plants” under the agreement; “we can’t.” This is false: “There is nothing in the agreement that stops the United States from building coal plants or gives the permission to China or India to build coal plants.” And Mother Jones has this wonderful analogy from the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Meyer, a longtime expert on the United Nations climate process, who “compared the U.S. to the cartoon character Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip, always taking away the football from Charlie Brown at the very last moment.” Associate Editor Maya L. Kapoor appreciates Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker commentary. With a stone soup reference, Kolbert breaks down the situation pretty clearly. After Trump’s announcement on Thursday, it was hard to ignore The Weather Channel. Check out how they covered the Paris accord news:

Zinke encourages Alaska oil drilling

In a reversal of Obama-era policies, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued an order on Wednesday aimed at increasing oil drilling on Alaska’s North Slope. “This order in effect makes Alaska open for business,” Zinke said, according to E&E News. The directive lays out a framework for allowing oil and gas leases on additional sections of the 23.6-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska — some of which were set aside in 2013 as critical wildlife habitat — and allows for new petroleum surveys in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Drilling, however, depends on more than access. “The market determines what we can pull the trigger on,” engineer and oil and gas consultant Dave Norton told the Alaska Dispatch News. “Fracking in Texas is so cheap to do, why would anybody want to come up here?”

Montana’s ‘love-hate relationship’ with the EPA

Editorial Intern Emily Benson recommends readers check out a recent Flathead Beacon story on Montanans’ complex attitudes toward the EPA. While Superfund and other agency programs have helped clean up environmental disasters, long-lasting and unsuccessful remediation in some places and strict and often expensive-to-implement regulations fuel skepticism toward the agency. In one Montana town, the story notes, the EPA is seen as “both a boon and a boondoggle,” a perspective that’s common across the rest of the West, too.

Dakota Access starts shipping oil

The Associated Press reports the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline began shipping oil for customers on Thursday. In case you missed it, Grist and The Intercept this week obtained documents that showed Energy Transfer Partners, the developers behind Dakota Access, hired a paramilitary service that spied, used military tactics and spread propaganda throughout Standing Rock protest camps to create confusion and hinder the activists’ efforts. Had a public police force used similar tactics, scholars say, it would likely be illegal.

Construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, which began shipping oil this week.

Trump says get outside — just not to monuments or parks.

Trump has declared June Great Outdoors Month, calling the warm, sunny summer weather “the perfect opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.” To those who have been closely following the review Trump ordered of 27 national monuments for potential shrinking or rescission, this may come as a surprise. The proclamation highlighted state parks in Colorado, Wisconsin and Michigan, while national parks and monuments went unmentioned. The proclamation did mention national forests once, and included a comment about working to “improve the management of our vitally important public lands.” Meanwhile, Oregon’s only national park, Crater Lake, is experiencing a water shortage. Rangers are coping by trucking in water from Chiloquin, about 25 miles away.

Portland anticipates clashing protests after violent stabbings

Tensions in Portland are high after a racially charged stabbing on a public train left two dead and another critically injured. The alleged attacker, Jeremy Christian, 35, originally targeted two teenage girls, one in a hijab, yelling racist epithets at them. The girls originally moved further down the train, but the man followed them. Rick Best, 53, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, and Micah Fletcher, 21, all intervened to calm Christian down. Christian allegedly stabbed each in the neck, killing Namkai-Meche and Best, then fleeing the train. At his arraignment, Christian repeatedly told the courtroom that he was practicing free speech and called himself a patriot. He’ll be in court again next Wednesday.

Christian had previously been seen at a “March for Free Speech” rally in April, holding a flag and carrying a baseball bat. Another “March for Free Speech” will be held this Sunday, June 4, in Portland by the same organizer, Joey Gibson of Patriot Prayer, who has disavowed Christian’s actions and his connection the Patriot Prayer’s rallies. The anti-facist group Rose City Antifa is planning on counter-protesting the Patriot Prayer rally, calling them a far-right group where racism and white supremacy festers. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has pleaded with no avail to federal officials to revoke the permit, since the rally will be on federal property, fearing that more violence will occur. Political clashes have been a theme in Portland for the past few months, and the GOP chairman of Multnomah County has called on the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, two paramilitary groups, to help maintain order instead of relying on local and federal officers.

Have time to catch up? Here's everything we published on hcn.org this week:

DAPL protesters were targeted by surveillance and military tactics

Why the Endangered Species Act can’t save whitebark pines

LNG project rises again, with support from Mountain states

USDA plans to axe the position dedicated to rural economies

In these Western cities, using less water costs more

Podcast: West Obsessed: Crimes against non-humanity

Letter from California: How low-wage immigrant workers are reviving unions, translated for our spanish-speaking readers

Opinion: Trump’s loyalty to coal is bad for taxpayers

Opinion: ‘This Glock belongs to a friend’

You made it! Now, never forget “covfefe”

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