The Eastman Chemical Co. -- one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the United States, which like many U.S. firms supported the Paris climate accord -- discontinued membership in one of the few trade groups that argued to the Trump administration that the landmark climate deal was not worthwhile.
Leading up to President Trump's announcement in June, hundreds of businesses publicly pledged support of the Paris accord. But more discreetly, the Industrial Energy Consumers of America told the White House that Paris disadvantaged U.S. manufacturers, arguing in two letters sent to the Trump administration -- one in April and another in May -- that "IECA fails to see the benefit of the Paris Climate Accord."
But that was not the public position of every IECA member on the Paris agreement, including Eastman. In the case of Eastman, the disagreement was strong enough to warrant leaving the trade group.
"While we valued the IECA's work in areas unrelated to climate change, the organization's action is so at odds with Eastman's position that we also cannot reconcile continued participation in IECA with our commitment to sustainability," David A. Golden, a senior vice president and chief legal and sustainability officer at Eastman, wrote to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, an international human-rights organization that queried Eastman and other IECA members about their Paris stance following IECA's lobbying effort.
"As such," Golden wrote, "this week we discontinued our IECA membership."
In an email statement to the Washington Post, Golden confirmed Eastman’s withdrawal from the IECA, adding that the company aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production by 20 percent by 2020 from 2008 levels.
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre published that and other letters it received from IECA members late Monday. The center made its inquiries after the Natural Resources Defense Council pointed out the discrepancy between IECA's stance and that of some of its members on the Paris agreement earlier this month.
Paul Cicio, president of IECA, said the trade group speaks only for itself and not for its companies. Indeed, IECA’s letters to the White House disclose: “Climate policies vary by company.”
“We did not say we oppose the agreement or support the agreement.” Cicio said. “We simply said we ‘fail to see the benefit.’”
Cicio added that members receive drafts of letters and have the opportunity to weigh in on language. “There does not have to be an agreement by all,” Cicio said. “Majority views prevail.”
Eastman's decision to leave the trade association highlights the rift that has developed in the American business community over Trump's decision to exit the Paris accord. Many large consumer-facing companies, like Apple, Gap and Levi's, asked the Trump administration to remain in the climate agreement that is largely popular with its employees and customers, publicly pushing their position in full-page newspaper ads.
Meanwhile, some energy-intensive firms, which would bear the brunt of greenhouse-gas regulations, supported U.S. withdrawal from Paris, though most often less publicly.
The rift is playing out in trade groups such as IECA — which represents a diverse set of chemical, metal, paper, glass and cement manufacturers — that find themselves caught in the middle of the two camps. It’s unclear how many groups fall on either side of the divide within IECA, as it doesn’t publicly disclose its members. (The members revealed by the NRDC came from a list it obtained.)
"It reminds me of over 80 companies that left the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which similarly opposes any climate-based regulation," Gregory Regaignon, research director at the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, told me by email. "While some who left ALEC were mum about their reasons, Google, Enterprise, Shell, Unilever, Wal-Mart and others were explicit that they left over disagreement with ALEC’s policies." Those policies, Regaignon said, include stances on climate, voter-ID, worker rights, healthcare and public safety laws.
Eastman was not the only IECA manufacturer that sought to clarify the record. Owens Corning, which manufactures insulation and roofing materials, distanced itself from the trade group after the Paris decision.
"We are members of many industry organizations that provide value to our company and our customers," Owens Corning told the human-rights nonprofit. "We virtually never find ourselves in alignment with all the positions of any industry organization, including IECA in this case."
International Paper, one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world, also put itself at arm's length from IECA. Previously, the company had said it aims to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by a fifth from 2010 levels by the end of the decade,
"We were not involved in the development of the letter and do not agree with the organization's decision to send it," the company wrote. "We participate in IECA mainly to access the organization's vast reservoir of energy data and reports."
SABIC, or the Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corporation, a chemical manufacturer, also said that it "did not review or approve" the IECA letter sent directly to President Trump in May before it went to the White House. A majority of SABIC shares are controlled by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which ratified the Paris accord in November shortly before Trump's election.
But while disagreeing with IECA's stance, the three companies have remained part of the group.
This story has been updated.
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THE LONG GOODBYE TO PARIS CONTINUES:
-- The waves generated by President Trump's splashy decision to leave the Paris agreement are rippling beyond just the climate-change issue and into other areas of environmental policy. Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, withheld signing off on large portions of the communique sent out Monday by the environmental chiefs of G-7 nations, who met in Italy over the weekend.
As a result, the United States was relegated to a footnote in the climate-change section of the official G-7 report, as this New York Times reporter notes:
"The U.S. is now left as a footnote to climate action and that's very sad," said the Canadian environment minister. https://t.co/p2C2khVzMX— Hiroko Tabuchi (@HirokoTabuchi) June 12, 2017
The United States (unsurprisingly) did not "reaffirm strong commitment to the swift and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement," as the other six G-7 nations did. But it also (surprisingly) did not affirm some relatively benign international environmental agreements. The Post's Chris Mooney reports:
But by withdrawing its assent from the entire section on climate change, the United States also did not endorse the relatively uncontroversial Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which aims to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs, which are used in air conditioners and other industrial products and also drive climate change. Nor did it endorse efforts by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to cut emissions from the global aircraft fleet.
The EPA did not comment on Pruitt's decision regarding this other language. While it may not be the beginning of any new U.S. policy regarding the Montreal Protocol, it is at very least a continuation of a starkly different tone from the Trump administration on international agreements.
Here is a must-read from The Post's Ellen Nakashima on the threat hackers allied with the Russian government pose to the U.S. electric grid:
The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system — in Ukraine in December. In that incident, the hackers briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric power generated in Kiev
But with modifications, it could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect, said Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, a cybersecurity firm that studied the malware and issued a report Monday.
And Russian government hackers have shown their interest in targeting U.S. energy and other utility systems, researchers said.
“It’s the culmination of over a decade of theory and attack scenarios,” Caltagirone warned. “It’s a game changer.”
-- The Trump administration cannot squash the kids-vs.-Trump climate trial. At least not yet. Chelsea Harvey reports for The Post: "Late last week, a federal judge denied a Trump administration move to prevent a major climate change lawsuit from going to trial. The case, being brought by 21 young people against the federal government, is now closer to a full-fledged trial that will pit the Trump administration against children and young adults who insist the government is undermining their future through climate change inaction. It’s a 'very significant' decision, according to chief counsel for the plaintiffs, Julia Olson, executive director of advocacy group Our Children’s Trust. 'This allows us to keep moving forward to trial.'"
-- A new New York Times interactive asks the question: "How Much Do You Know About Solving Global Warming?"
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has made his recommendation on the Bears Ears National Monument.
The verdict: President Trump should “revise the existing boundaries” of the area his predecessor designated with protective status under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The Trump administration should also ask Congress to give Native American tribes authority to co-manage "designated cultural resources."
But that decision isn't final. Zinke also recommended holding off on a final decision until all 27 national monuments designated by President Obama are reviewed. Meaning environmental and Native America activists will fight on for another day.
I recommend the monument, especially the areas of significant cultural interest, be comanaged by the Tribal nations. https://t.co/OdIKxG7ZWQ— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) June 12, 2017
Utah's congressional delegation supported the move:
The tens of thousands of archaeological sites in Bears Ears, which catalog the history of indigenous people in the area but recently have been subject to vandalism, attracted the attention of the Obama administration. The Post's Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin offer a window into the fraught politics of public land disputes:
During the afternoon news conference, Zinke said he and a deputy assistant spoke with Native leaders, a majority of whom support the Bears Ears designation and fought the monument’s review at every step. “Overall, in talking to tribal leadership… they’re pretty happy and willing to work with us,” he said.
The statement brought a quick rebuke from representatives of the Navajo Nation. “I haven’t been happy with him since day one,” said Davis Filfred. “I don’t know what that word happy is.”
Filfred said he told Zinke, and later his assistant, whom the secretary did not name, that the coalition of Ute, Navajo, Hopi and Zuni tribe leaders who fought 10 years for a monument designation wanted no change. He said Zinke is apparently speaking with the leader of a small Navajo faction that opposed the monument but isn’t part of the nation’s leadership.
“We don’t want it to be rescinded,” Filfred said. “We wanted it left alone. Right now, what I’m hearing is this is only a recommendation. But when they do make that move, we’re ready as a Navajo nation for a lawsuit, and all the other tribal leaders are ready. We have others who are ready for litigation. This is uncalled for.”
The senior culture writer for Buzzfeed News has more:
Here's an overview of the 100,000 sacred sites in Bears Ear & why they need protecting:https://t.co/QPlZRgVD4w— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) June 12, 2017
-- On Monday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved Trump's nominee to run the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long.
Early on, the Trump administration earned a reputation for nominating Cabinet members with seemingly little experience relevant to the agency they would run. Think of Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon atop the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Or of Betsy DeVos, the philanthropist picked to run the Department of Education.
Perhaps drawing from President George W. Bush's disastrous decision to fill FEMA with leaders inexperienced in emergency preparedness, Trump took a different tack with FEMA and erred on the side of expertise. Long is an experienced emergency manager, most recently having worked as director of the Emergency Management Agency in Alabama, a state that has dealt with its fair share of hurricanes.
-- After receiving complaints from chemical companies, Scott Pruitt has decided to delay implementing a chemical-safety rule issued by the EPA under the Obama administration, The Hill reports.
-- For once, Trump had something nice to say about the media. During the televised portions of his unusual Cabinet meeting on Monday, Trump said: “There are a couple of major stories today in the newspapers about the mines that are opening and the miners are going back to work."
Which stories might he be referring to? Trump answers, naturally, on Twitter:
Congratulations!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2017
'First New Coal Mine of Trump Era Opens in Pennsylvania' https://t.co/aIRllxNLQA
The tweet links to a Fox News story about the opening of a Pennsylvania coal mine that will employ 70 people.
- The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold its hearing on the nominations of Kristine Svinicki, Annie Caputo and David Wright to be members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the nomination of Susan Bodine to be assistant administrator of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance of the EPA.
- The Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry will hold a public hearing on small watershed infrastructure.
- The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a legislative hearing on Wednesday on “the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act.”
- The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing on Wednesday on "Energy Security Planning, Emergency Preparedness, and State Energy Programs."
- The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands will hold a legislative hearing Wednesday on the SHARE Act.
- The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Power is holding a legislative hearing Wednesday on hydropower and water bills.
- The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a Thursday hearing on the 2018 farm bill.
- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the Forest Service budget request on Thursday.
- EPA head Scott Pruitt will testify on Thursday before the House Appropriations' Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies on the agency’s proposed budget.
- BP’s Group Chief Economist Spencer Dale will speak at the American Gas Associations’ Natural Gas roundtable on Thursday.
- Later this month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration will host its 2017 EIA Energy Conference in Washington D.C
Here's a look at the Bears Ears National Historic Monument. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended President Trump “revise the existing boundaries” of the Utah monument:
More on Bears Ears:
Watch the clip of President Trump telling members of his administration that “never has there been a president — with few exceptions, in the case of FDR who had a major depression to handle — who has passed more legislation, who has done more than what we have done:"
Stephen Colbert issues a "fawning" warning for that Cabinet meeting: