On Monday, a group of Democratic senators joined a chorus of others calling for the removal of an Energy Department head who last year tweeted that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was “necessary.”
Last week, The Washington Post reported that William C. Bradford, director of the Office of Indian Energy, had sent a series of disturbing messages from a now deleted Twitter account over the past year and a half before being hired by the Energy Department.
The tweets included ones calling former president Barack Obama a “Kenyan creampuff” and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg a “little arrogant self-hating Jew.”
But the tweet that has generated the most ire, and the loudest calls for his termination, was sent around the anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1942 order authorizing the incarceration of Japanese Americans months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
“It was necessary,” Bradford wrote in February 2016 of the World War II internment program.
In a scathing retort sent to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, five Democratic senators, led by Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, said: “The internment was not ‘necessary,’ it was ‘wrong.’”
Hirono and other members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which oversees the Energy Department, asked Perry to terminate Bradford.
"Public officials in leadership positions have the responsibility to serve all Americans regardless of race, gender, and religion," the senator wrote. "These officials must be held to the highest standards of conduct. Dr. Bradford’s divisive rhetoric has no place in public service."
In addition to Hirono, senators Maria Cantwell of Washington, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois signed the letter.
According to Chris Lu, formerly a deputy labor secretary and co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders under Obama, Bradford fits into a pattern of seemingly unvetted officials being hired across departments in the Trump administration, such as Joseph Otting, Trump’s nominee for comptroller of the currency, who reportedly misrepresented having a degree from Dartmouth. (Otting denies that he was trying to imply he had the degree.)
"I have serious questions about his fitness to serve in a senior government position,” Lu said of Bradford. “But it also raises larger issues about the Trump vetting operation.”
From former Labor Secretary Chris Lu:
On the other side of the Capitol, Grace Meng, a Democratic representative from New York and a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said on social media on Friday that Bradford had no place at the top levels of government.
This man must not be allowed to serve in the Trump administration. These extremist views are disgusting and have no place in our government. https://t.co/HfAXIsqF2Z— Grace Meng (@RepGraceMeng) June 23, 2017
“It is important that Mr. Bradford understand that his comments were completely unacceptable, especially for someone who is a senior government official,” Meng added in a statement on Monday.
Tung Thanh Nguyen, a medical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and former chair of Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, said that the federal government has acknowledged for decades that there was no real basis for it to detain Japanese Americans during the war.
“Even at the time of the signing of Executive Order 9066 -- neither the FBI nor Army or Navy commanders questioned the loyalty of Japanese Americans nor thought that a Japanese invasion was likely,” Nguyen said of Roosevelt’s internment order. “The U.S. government acknowledged this when President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988 to apologize and compensate more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated.”
The Energy Department did not comment on Bradford on Monday evening. In the meantime, the White House appears to be hearing out an issue taken up by the Office of Indian Energy.
Under Bradford, that office, normally in charge of reducing energy costs of Native American and Alaskan tribes and villages, hired C.J. Stewart, a member of the Crow Nation who has advocated for coal mining on that tribe’s Montana reservation, as a fossil fuel expert.
“Coal development on the Crow Indian Reservation is a very vital part of the self-sufficiency of the Crow Tribe,” Stewart told Indian Country Today in 2013.
As part of “Energy Week,” the latest policy-themed week in Trump’s White House, Crow representatives will meet with Trump, according to Reuters.
From a Reuters reporter:
Native American energy producing tribes such as Montana's Crow Nation among those meeting with Trump, cabinet during #EnergyWeek— Valerie Volcovici (@ValerieVolco) June 26, 2017
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HEALTH-CARE UPDATE: The Senate health-care bill may be in jeopardy after the independent Congressional Budget Office report showed that 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026. As soon as next year, the CBO said 15 more million Americans would be uninsured. The Senate bill would also cut Medicaid spending by $772 billion over 10 years and would increase premiums before 2020, when premiums would start to go down. One positive for Republicans: Their health-care plan would reduce the net deficit by an estimated $321 billion, markedly higher than the House’s projected $119 billion in deficit reduction. After the report’s release, at least three Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) signaled they would vote against starting debate on the bill. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) had already expressed his opposition to the bill on Friday. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) remained more optimistic, saying he believes “we can still get to yes." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will surely have to make some changes to the bill if he hopes to pass the bill by the end of the week.
Read more from my colleague Paige Winfield Cunningham in The Health 202 today.
-- Job openings: On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is seeking nominees to join the agency's Science Advisory Board (SAB), which is designed to provide independent scientific advice to EPA top brass on the science that underlies the agency's decision-making. These include nominees for the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), a committee within the Scientific Advisory Board that has been criticized by Republican lawmakers for recommending stricter ozone pollution rules. The terms of a dozen Scientific Advisory Board members expire this fiscal year.
The call for nominees is the latest move by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to find fresh scientific advisers as he seeks to undo much of the regulatory legacy of the EPA under President Obama. Starting in May, the EPA began informing members of another panel, the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), that he would be seeking new advisers, The Post reported. This month, an email went out to BOSC members telling them that their terms ending in August will not be renewed.
According to a New York Times report on Monday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's chief of staff pressured Deborah Swackhamer, a chemist who leads BOSC, to play down the dismissals in testimony to Congress. "I was stunned that he was pushing me to ‘correct’ something in my testimony,” Swackhamer told The Times' Coral Davenport. “I was factual, and he was not. I felt bullied.”
--Trump’s Commerce Department is now soliciting public comments for a review of 11 marine sanctuaries and monuments, The Post's Darryl Fears reported.
Several monuments and sanctuaries first established and expanded by former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will be reviewed as part of Trump’s executive order on offshore energy strategy signed in April. The sites could be “reduced and opened to oil and gas exploration,” Fears reported.
The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off Hawaii, Rose Atoll Marine National Monument off American Samoa, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary off California and the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary off Michigan are up for review.
Comments can be submitted, including electronically, until July 26.
From Fears: “Trump’s order to review marine conservation sites is part of a larger effort that could lead to the reduction of more than two dozen monuments and sanctuaries designated and expanded by his predecessors. The most controversial is the Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah, which Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended for reduction, despite more than 1 million comments supporting it.”
--The liberal Center for American Progress launched an interactive today analyzing nearly two dozen land-based monuments, under review by the Trump administration. The project uses 12 ecological indicators, including mammal diversity, uninterrupted landscapes, night sky darkness and the presence of rare species and ecosystems to review the sites.
-- The Senate easily confirmed Republican Kristine Svinicki for a new term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday. The chamber voted 88-9 to reconfirm Svinicki to serve five more years on the commission, where she has served since 2008. She is also expected to remain as chairman of the panel, which she has chaired since January. Svinicki's current term on the commission was set to end on Friday.
President Trump’s two other nominees to the commission, Annie Caputo and David Wright, are set for a vote before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday, E&E News reported. As is Susan Bodine, Trump’s nominee for assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
-- On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear an environmental case involving a lawsuit brought by New Mexico against Colorado over the release of 3 million gallons of heavy-metal-laden waste from the Gold King Mine into the Animas River, which flows Colorado to New Mexico, that temporarily turned the river orange.
Vowing to continue the suit, a spokesperson for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said the Supreme Court's ruling simply “limited the venue in which the state of Colorado can be sued for the harm done to New Mexico children, families and businesses," according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
-- The first enforcement action taken against an oil driller by Scott Pruitt's EPA has been made public, the Washington Examiner reports. Seemingly to counter accusations from Democratic politicians that he is in the pocket of the oil and gas industry, Pruitt said: "Violations of environmental law will be pursued and punished."
--Nearly three-quarters of Americans want the Trump administration to negotiate a new international climate change accord to replace the Paris Climate Agreement the president pulled out from earlier this month. A new Harvard-Harris Poll published Monday by The Hill reportedly shows that 72 percent of voters want a renegotiated deal over pulling from any climate pact entirely. The poll also found more than half -- or 53 percent -- of voters disagree with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement while 47 percent support the decision.
-- Channeling that support, the United States Conference of Mayors adopted a series of resolutions to counter the new vacuum of federal policy on mitigating climate change, including a pledge that cities get 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2035, according to InsideClimate News.
-- The Post's Chris Mooney wrote about a new study -- the third of its kind published this year alone -- that shows sea levels are not only rising, but the rate of rise is increasing.
The study from Nature Climate Change shows that what was a 2.2 millimeter per year rise in 1993 was a 3.3 millimeter rise in 2014. And the main cause of that rate increase is the melting Greenland ice sheet, which saw an increase from 5 percent contribution to sea level rise to 25 percent in the same time period.
Mooney writes: “The new study finds that losses of ice, and from Greenland in particular, are now becoming a bigger contributor to sea level rise than thermal expansion. And it notes rather pointedly that this contrasts with what the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the top authority on climate science, predicted would unfold across the course of the century in 2013. The more Greenland and Antarctica contribute to sea level rise, the higher it can go, since these are the two largest sources of land-based ice on the planet.”
“It’s no longer a projection, it’s now an observation,”said Christopher Harig, one of the study’s authors. “It’s not something that they can continue to put off into the future.”
-- Mooney also wrote about another study that tracked the Greenland ice sheet’s melting all the way to wildfires that started in Canada. The soot from the fire was delivered to Greenland from specific atmosphere event — a snowstorm in the summer of 2013.
“Without that storm to bring them down from the atmosphere to the surface, the soot particles could have traveled over the ice sheet at a high altitude and never landed,” Mooney writes.
Why does this matter? Mooney notes that this single event shows there’s a risk that “worsening fires could enhance the melting of Greenland — and therefore, the rising of the seas.”
-- Some might argue that Australia’s beloved Great Barrier Reef is a priceless natural wonder, but economists have just placed a number on its monetary value, writes Chelsea Harvey for The Post. The value: $42.4 billion, according to a new report commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and prepared by Deloitte Access Economics.
-- New research has found that naturally occurring underwater bacteria has eaten a considerable amount of the oil spilled from Deepwater Horizon in 2010, according to CNBC.
- The U.S. Energy Information Administrations 2017 Energy Conference will continue today. Perry will deliver the keynote address.
- EPA head Scott Pruitt will testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies about the agency’s budget request.
- The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard will hold a hearing on marine sanctuaries.
- The House Natural Resources Committee will have a markup hearing on land designation, conservation and mining support bills.
- The House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittees on Energy and on Research and Technology will hold a joint hearing Wednesday on material science.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will meet Wednesday to vote on Annie Caputo and David Wright, two of Trump’s nominees for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Susan Bodine, a nominee for assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
- Trump is planning to host governors and leaders of American Indian tribes to talk energy policy.
- The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing on conservation and forestry on Thursday.
- The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an oversight hearing on oil and natural gas development on federal lands on Thursday.
- The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on NASA’s budget request on Thursday.
- Trump, Perry, Zinke and Pruitt will be part of an “American Energy Dominance Panel,” for Energy Week on Thursday.
- Trump will deliver a speech Thursday on “energy dominance.”
What's in the CBO report on the Senate health-care plan:
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said she was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer and adds that she believes health care is a "right":
Watch a giant whale get close to a boat in New Jersey: