Tuesday, June 25, 2019

NV Turned Blue and Passed Laws to Improve Voting

Democrats Won Full Control of Nevada’s Government for the First time in Two Decades following Gov. Steve Sisolak's Victory last year, and they further made History by Electing the Nation’s First Majority-Woman Legislature. Lawmakers quickly used their newfound Powers to Pass a Major Package of Laws designed to Protect Voting Rights, make Voting Easier, and Increase Turnout.

Chief among the Changes is an Omnibus Law that enables: Same-Day Voter Registration and implements Automatic Voter Registration at the DMV. That same Law also Expands Early Voting Availability and gives All Voters the Option to Sign-Up to Permanently Receive an Absentee Ballot at each Election.

Absentee Ballots will Now be Counted so long as they're Postmarked by Election Day. Under the Former Practice, Ballots had to be Received by Election Day. Additionally, when Absentee Ballots have a Problem, such as when a Voter's Signature is Missing or doesn’t appear to Match the One on File, Officials will be Required to Contact Voters to Confirm their Identity so that they aren't Disenfranchised.

Voters will further be Guaranteed the Right to Vote In-Person on Election Day so long as they're In-Line by the Time Polls Close, and Voters who have to Cast a Provisional Ballot will get to Vote on All Races in their Jurisdiction instead of just in Federal Contests.

Legislation Codifies into Law the Option for Counties to Adopt Vote Centers. Such Centers allow Any Voter in the County to Cast a Ballot regardless of where they Live, as opposed to the Traditional Practice that Requires Voters to Visit their Local Precinct.

The Legislature was very busy this year and Passed a slew of other Bills related to Voting to Complement this Omnibus Law.

- Measure, which Passed with Bipartisan Support, Consolidates All Local Election Dates with Federal and State Elections. That Ends the Practice in some Cities of Holding Elections in the Spring or in Odd-Numbered years. This Change will likely Save Money, since Officials will have to Hold Fewer Elections. More importantly, it will Increase Voter Participation dramatically in Local Elections across the State, since Turnout is almost always much Higher in Federal and State Races.

- Law Passed will Allow Voters to Turn in their Absentee Ballots at any Early Voting Location in their County. Previously Voters had to either Send these Ballots via the Mail or Drop them off at their County Clerk's Office, so establishing Multiple Drop Off Locations will make turning in a Mail Ballot in Person much more Convenient. That's especially Important because the New Permanent Absentee Option will likely lead to Increased Absentee Voting.

- Enacted a Law that will Restore Voting Rights to Everyone who is No Longer Incarcerated for a Felony Conviction, meaning Citizens will now be able to Vote if they are on: Parole, Probation, or Post-Sentence. Previously, Nevada Permanently Disenfranchised some but Not All People with Felony Convictions.

- Passed a Law to End "Prison Gerrymandering," a Practice in many States that, for Redistricting Purposes, Counts Prisoners where they’re Incarcerated, even though they can’t Vote there and usually have No Ties to the often Rural Areas where most Prisons are located. Instead, Prisoners will now be Counted at their Last Address, which could shift Representation from Rural White Communities to Urban Communities of Color, particularly at the Local Level.

- Legislators Voted by a near-Unanimous Margin to put a Constitutional Amendment on the 2020 Ballot to Expand Protections for the Right to Vote. While nearly every State Constitution Guarantees the Right to Vote in some form, these Provisions are often Not laid out in Modern Language that is Unambiguous and Meticulous in Detailing its Safeguards. This Amendment will Clarify this Guarantee to Protect Voters against modern Threats to Voting Rights.

- Lawmakers Passed another Bipartisan Measure Unanimously to Establish a Permanent Polling Place on each Native American Reservation in the State unless a Reservation specifically asks to Change It. Many People living on Remote Reservations lack reliable Transportation Options, so establishing Local Polling Places should Improve Voting Access.

- A Law that Reforms the Recall Process to make it less Vulnerable to Partisan Abuse. The most Notorious such Incident came about in 2017, when Republicans tried to Recall several Democratic State Senators solely because they Believed it would be easier to Win Back Control of the Chamber in Low-Turnout Special Elections. That Scheme ultimately Failed after a Costly Legal Challenge when Republicans Failed to Submit enough Valid Signatures. This Legislation aims to Prevent Future Deceptive Recall Campaigns while still leaving the Option Open for Legislators who Break the Law or Abuse their Office.

However, the 2019 Legislative Session wasn't a Total Victory for Advocates of Pro-Democracy Reforms. Sisolak became the First Democratic Governor to Veto a Bill to Join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

Other Measures to Expand Turnout Failed to Clear the Legislature ahead of a Key Deadline, including a Bill that would have required a General Election for Local Office even if a Candidate takes a Majority in the Primary. While that Measure would have ensured Local Elections take place in what is typically the Highest-Turnout Environment, November. In Even years, the Law moving Elections to Even-Numbered years will nevertheless likely Boost Primary Turnout Significantly.

Another Proposal didn’t survive that would have Granted 17-year-olds the Right to Vote in Primaries if they turn 18 by the General Election. Without the First Bill, the Second Bill would have Allowed some 17-year-olds to vote in Contests that determined the Winner Outright.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Would Overhaul Elections

Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping Plan to give the Federal Government a far Bigger Role in setting the Rules for Elections, rather than deferring to States and Localities.

"[T]he Constitution gives Congress the tools to regulate the administration of federal elections," Warren wrote in a Post. "It’s time to pick up those tools and use them."

For Federal Elections, Warren wants to:

- Replace All Old and Paperless Voting Machines

- Standardize Ballots

- Mandate a Minimum of 15 days of Early Voting

- Make Election Day a Holiday

- Restore the Right to Vote for those Out of Prison. I would also allow People in Prison awaiting Trial to Vote.

- Create Automatic Voter Registration

- Revamp Election Cybersecurity

She would provide Financial Incentives for States to Adopt those Standards in their State and Local Elections.

In Order to Incentivize that Process, the Federal Government would "pay the entirety of a state’s election administration costs, as long as the state meets federal standards in its state and local elections and works to make voting more convenient."

This plan would almost certainly set off innumerable Political and Legal Battles between the Federal Government, State Governments and Localities over who Controls Elections. Some States and Localities would likely insist on Administering their own Elections, with their own Rules for Voter ID and Registration, leading to bifurcated Election Systems and Confusion among Voters.

The Warren Team estimates its Plan would cost $20 Billion over the next Decade, with $15 Billion going toward Election Administration and $5 Billion for Election Security. These are rough Estimates, however, because the current Balkanized Election System makes it difficult to Estimate the exact Cost.

Warren says her Administration would Pay for it through an "Ultra-Millionaire Tax," sometimes referred to as a Wealth Tax. That Proposal would put a 2% Tax on All Household Net Worth between $50 Million and $1 Billion, according to the Proposal.

Should be over $50 Million.

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke recently Released a Plan that Shares some Elements of Warren's, including:

- New Voting Rights Laws

- Making Election Day a Holiday

- Providing more Money for Election Security.

Several Candidates support efforts to allow the formerly Incarcerated to Vote and to end Voter ID Laws that they call Discriminatory.

Sen. Bernie Sanders(I) supports allowing People to Vote while in Prison, including those who have Committed Violent Crimes.

The Plan is Designed to help People who want Voting to be Easier. Some Conservatives will likely Oppose the Plan because it attempts to Undo most of the Voter ID Laws in the States and would Empower the Federal Government at the Expense of States and Localities. Other Conservatives will almost certainly raise Objections because of the Plan's Cost and the New Taxes it would require.

I would also like to see a more Professional Board of Elections. The Board's Staff should be a Separate Entity from the State. A Secretary of State or a State Party Chairperson should Not be Running Federal, State, or Local Elections.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

NYC Blindsided by Bug that Crashed Wireless Network

Despite Warnings, New York City’s Technology Managers were Blindsided by the so-called “GPS Rollover”, Failing to Install simple but necessary Upgrades. After a Wireless Network used by City Agencies Crashed in April, the Police Department relied on Mounted License Plate Readers.

For at least a year, Federal Officials and Technology Companies had been Warning of the Rollover, a once-in-20-year Event that had the Potential to Wreak Havoc on Computer Networks around the World.

Yet somehow, New York City’s Technology managers were caught completely Off Guard, and did Nothing to prepare for the Calendar Reset of the Centralized Global Positioning System. As a result, a Wireless Network used by City Agencies Crashed, Crippling many Services that relied on it, including some Police Department License Plate Readers and a system to Remotely Control Traffic Lights. It took 10 days to get the Network Running again.

Officials at several City Agencies, including the Police Department and the Office of Emergency Management, knew about the Rollover, according to a Report released by the City on Friday.

But Officials at the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoiTT), which was Responsible for Operating the Wireless Network, claimed “that they were not aware” of the Rollover before it occurred, the Report said.

After the Network went down, Confusion, Poor Communication. and a Lack of Coordination hampered Attempts to get it Working again, according to the Report, which was Compiled by the Consulting Firm Gartner at a Cost of $300,000.

A week before the Report’s Release, the DoiTT Commissioner, Samir Saini, Resigned. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that Saini wanted to Return to the Private Sector, and Disputed the notion that his Departure was Connected to the Failure.

The Report did Not name any of the People who were Responsible for the missteps, and the City has Not publicly Disciplined anyone in relation to the Incident. Nonetheless, the Report, with its Revelations of Poor Preparation and the Chaotic Response, could be Embarrassing for de Blasio, who is Running for President and has argued that his Experience Managing the Nation’s Largest City makes him more Qualified than other Candidates.

On the day the Wireless Network Crashed, de Blasio was in Nevada, an Early Primary State, as he considered whether to Declare his Candidacy for President. City Hall initially tried to Hide the Shutdown. It made No Public Acknowledgment of the Problem and, in response to Questions from The New York Times, Officials initially Characterized it as a Routine Maintenance Issue.

The Report does Not indicate when de Blasio was told of the Problem or whether he was Informed of the Confusion surrounding the Attempts to get it working again. In a Statement accompanying the Report’s Release, Laura Anglin, the Deputy Mayor for Operations, who also Oversees the Information Technology Department, asserted that “there were no interruptions to city services during the NYCWiN outage,” but Acknowledged that “it is critical we learn from this event.”

Ms. Anglin’s Statement, however, is directly Contradicted by the Report, which Details several Service Interruptions. About Half of the City operated Signs showing Arrival Times at Bus Stops were Disabled, as were about 200 Cameras that Provide Online Images of Traffic Conditions. Many other Tasks handled by the Network were Knocked Offline, requiring City Workers to be Reassigned to Perform the Tasks Manually.

The Report made it clear the Episode could easily have been Avoided. The Wireless Network, like many other Computerized Systems, uses GPS Data to keep Track of Time. The GPS Rollover was widely known, and Government & Industry Notices encouraged Technology Managers to Upgrade Systems to Avoid possible Interruptions.

The Report’s Authors interviewed Eight Top Officials at the information technology Department, including Saini. But the Report said that No one at the Agency Admitted being Aware of the approaching Rollover. It does Not say whether it considered those Denials to be Credible, given the Amount of Publicity related to the Rollover in the Technology Industry.

Saini was Hired just a year and a half ago by the Mayor and was involved, among other Key Initiatives, in the Modernization of the 911 system.

According to the Report, the System could easily have been Upgraded by Replacing what is known as the Firmware in the Dozens of Nodes, or Antennas, that make up the Network.

Northrop Grumman, the Contractor that Maintains and Operates the Network at a Cost to Taxpayers of $37 Million a year, also did Not Alert City Officials to the Need for an Upgrade, the Report said. “Northrop Grumman worked expeditiously” with City Officials “to address the GPS rollover event,” said a Company Spokesman, Tim Paynter, in an emailed Statement.

Many Passages in the 35-page Report were Blacked-Out, which City Officials said was done for Security reasons.

The Wireless Network was Built for about $500 Million and has been in use since 2008. But today it is Used by Only about 10 City Agencies. The City Plans to Shut it Down in the coming years and Shift its Wireless needs to Commercial Carriers, which it says will Save Money.

But the City has been Slow to carry out Plans for such a Transition. The Report recommended that New York Review its Technology Infrastructure and Warned that the City “may be exposed to more risk than necessary regarding technology-related incidents.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

NY Election Enforcer in Holdover Status

The New York's Top Election Enforcement Official, Risa Sugarman, appears likely to Remain in her Job for the rest of 2019. But her Status remains Uncertain beyond that, a Top Gov. Cuomo Administration Official indicated Friday.

Sugarman's Five-year Term as Chief Enforcement Counsel of the State Board of Elections ends Aug. 31st. To gain a New Term, she needs to receive be Re-Nominated by Cuomo, then Confirmation by the State Senate and Assembly. Barring a Special Session called by Cuomo later this year, Legislators won't return to Albany until the Start of the 2020 Session in January.

Hours after the end of the 2019 session, Cuomo was asked at a Capitol Press Conference on Friday why Sugarman had Not been Re-Nominated to the Post. "I don't know," Cuomo said.

Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, who also fielded Questions at the Red Room Press Conference, said Sugarman was in "holdover status."
"It's not unusual that someone sits in holdover status," DeRosa said. "We'll deal with it next year."

The Governor can Replace "holdover" Executive Branch Appointees who continue serving beyond their Terms at any time. They can also Serve Indefinitely.

While it's Not unusual for Gubernatorial Appointees to be in this Position, Sugarman's Job is Unique. Her Office directly Regulates the Campaigns of Cuomo and All State Legislators, and its Investigations can spark highly charged Political and Legal Issues. At least Publicly, Sugarman has Not Targeted Cuomo's Campaign. If she remains in a "holdover" Position past Aug. 31st, Cuomo would Retain the Power to Replace her at any Point.

If Sugarman or someone else is Confirmed to a New Five-year Term, the Law Offers more Protections. The Governor can Only Remove the Counsel during their Term for "substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or the inability to discharge the powers or duties of office."

A Report issued by the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption in December 2013 Detailed how Enforcement of State Election Law by the Board of Elections (BOE) was practically Nonexistent. As part of Cuomo's Controversial Deal with the Legislature to Close the Commission in March 2014, a Major Concession agreed to by Lawmakers was the Creation of the Enforcement Counsel's Office, which was to operate Independently of the Rest of the BOE.

Unlike many Albany Watchdogs, Sugarman has made Waves during her Tenure, which could make gaining another Confirmation more difficult. Since her Appointment by Cuomo in 2014, she has brought a Number of Cases against High-Profile Targets, angering a Bipartisan array of Lawmakers in the State Senate, including Republicans, Democrats, and the Senate's Now-Defunct Independent Democratic Conference. A number of the Cases brought by her Office have resulted in Settlements.

Sugarman most recently reached a $100,000 Settlement over alleged Violations by the New York State United Teachers Union, a Major Ally of Democrats in both Houses of the Legislature.

Sugarman has often Publicly Clashed with the BOE's Four Commissioners, Two Republicans and Two Democrats. Last year, the Commissioners issued New Regulations reining in Sugarman's Ability to issue Subpoenas as part of her Unit's Investigations without the BOE Approval.

Sugarman subsequently Sued the Board, arguing that the Regulations represent an Illegal Overreach. She has Ceased attending its Monthly Meetings while the Litigation is ongoing.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Monday, June 24, 2019

FL Lawmakers Aim to Restrict Early Voting Locations Based on Parking Availability

Florida Lawmakers are on the verge of Enacting a Measure that would require Election Officials to determine Early Voting Sites have a “sufficient” amount of Accessible Parking, a move Civil Rights Groups say will make it Harder to Vote Early on College Campuses.

The Provision requires a Supervisor of Election to ensure any Early Voting Location has “sufficient nonpermitted parking to accommodate the anticipated amount of voters.” The Measure Passed the Florida Legislature last month as part of a Bill with a Number of Election Changes. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has indicated he will Sign it.

A Federal Judge ordered Florida to allow Early Voting at Public University Facilities last year. Now, the Plaintiffs in a Suit say Republicans are taking another approach to try and Restrict Early Voting. The Provision is contained in the same Bill that will Require Floridians with Felony Convictions to Repay All Fines and Fees Ordered by a Court before they can Vote again. Civil Rights Groups say that Requirement is akin to a Poll Tax and Violates a Constitutional Amendment Voters overwhelmingly Passed last year.

Last year, the League of Women Voters, the Andrew Goodman Foundation, and a handful of Students at the University of Florida successfully Sued the State in Federal Court to allow Early Voting in State-owned Campus Buildings. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker wrote that the State’s reasons for Blocking Early Voting in campus Buildings, which included concerns about Parking, were Not sufficient. 7,899 People Voted Early on Campus at the University of Florida in 2018 making it the Third most popular Voting Site in Alachua County, where the School is located. Statewide, 57,639 People Voted Early at Sites on Public University Campuses, according to Lawyers for Plaintiffs in the Case.

In a Filing earlier this week, the Plaintiffs in the Case said the New Parking Requirement was “aimed with laser-like precision” at Undoing Walker’s Order allowing Early Voting on College Campuses. Noting Supervisors of Election could face Financial Penalty if they Failed to adhere to Florida Law, Lawyers argued the Officials had an Incentive Not to offer Early Voting at places where Parking could be Tight.

The Priorities USA Foundation, the Non-Profit arm of a Democratic super PAC that backed the Lawsuit last year, said Friday it would Sue Florida over the Measure should DeSantis Sign it into Law.

Parking Issues weren’t a Problem during Early Voting in the 2018 Election, said TJ Pyche, a Spokesman for Kim Barton, the Alachua County Supervisor of Election. He said Barton’s Office had worked out an Agreement with the University of Florida to provide Parking for Voters.

“We’ll continue to work closely with the University to make sure that we can have that spot that was successful during the 2018 election cycle,” he said. “It’s not something that’s gonna impact how we go about selecting that site and preparing that site.”

The Florida Association of Supervisors of Election Didn’t Request the Provision, said Paul Lux, who just Completed his Term as the Group’s President. “This is definitely nothing the supervisors asked for. It is something that we advised against. At the end of the day, we don’t get to write the law,” he said.

As the 2020 Election approaches, Measures that could affect Voter Turnout are likely to draw Tough Scrutiny. Republicans narrowly Won Statewide Races for Governor and U.S. Senate last year and Florida is considered a Critical Swing State in Presidential Elections.

State Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-12th District), who introduced the Provision, said he believed the Measure was necessary after reading stories of Long Lines at the Polls and People who couldn’t find a Place to Park. But Civil Rights Groups say the Provision is aimed at College Campuses, which often require Permits to Park on Campus or have Limited Space.

“This is not about parking,” said Patricia Brigham, the President of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “Those students with cars, they can hop in their car and go to an early voting site off campus. This about those students living on campus, who don’t have a car and they want to vote early.”

Baxley Denied the Measure was at All Targeted towards College Campuses or Intended to make it more Difficult for anyone to Vote. “I just think it’s reasonable that if you want to have a voting location, you need a certain amount of square footage. You need a certain amount of visibility. You need to have somewhere they can park to get there,” he said.

Baxley said the Local Supervisors of Election would have Discretion to determine how much Parking in a particular area was “sufficient.” He Declined to say whether it would be Acceptable for Election Officials to move an Early Voting Location from a Central Location to a Less Convenient Place to Accommodate more Parking. “I really hadn’t thought about the different ways they might approach it,” he said. “Location is one thing that you’re looking at. But the other thing is access. And if there’s no parking, there’s no access for many people.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Agriculture Department Buries Studies Showing Dangers of Climate Change

The Trump Administration has Refused to Publicize Dozens of Government-Funded Studies that carry Warnings about the Effects of Climate Change, defying a longstanding Practice of touting such Findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed In-House Scientists.

The Studies range from a Groundbreaking Discovery that Rice loses Vitamins in a Carbon-Rich Environment, a potentially serious Health Concern for the 600 Million People World-Wide whose Diet consists mostly of Rice, to a Finding that Climate Change could Exacerbate Allergy Seasons to a Warning to Farmers about the Reduction in Quality of Grasses important for Raising Cattle.

All of these Studies were Peer-Reviewed by Scientists and Cleared through the Non-Partisan Agricultural Research Service, one of the World’s Leading Sources of Scientific Information for Farmers and Consumers.

None of the Studies were Focused on the Causes of Global Warming, an often Politically Charged Issue. Rather, the Research Examined the wide-ranging Effects of Rising Carbon Dioxide, Increasing Temperatures, and Volatile Weather.

The Administration, Researchers said, appears to be trying to Limit the circulation of Evidence of Climate Change and avoid Press Coverage that may Raise Questions about the Administration’s stance on the Issue.

“The intent is to try to suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a Leading Climate Scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “Who loses out? The People, who are already suffering the Impacts of Sea Level Rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves.”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, has expressed Skepticism about Climate Science in the Past and allegedly Retaliated against In-House Economists whose Findings Contradicted Administration Policies.

Investigations revealed a persistent pattern in which the Trump Administration Refused to draw Attention to Findings that show the Potential Dangers and Consequences of Climate Change, covering Dozens of separate Studies. The Administration’s moves flout Decades of Department Practice of Promoting its Research in the spirit of Educating Farmers and Consumers around the World, according to an Analysis of USDA Communications under previous Administrations.

The Lack of Promotion means Research from Scores of Government Scientists receives Less Public Attention. Climate-related Studies are still being Published without Fanfare in Scientific Journals, but they can be very difficult to Find. The USDA doesn’t Post All its Studies in one place.

Since Trump took Office in January 2017, the Agricultural Research Service has issued Releases for just Two Climate-related Studies, both of which had Findings that were Favorable to the Politically Powerful Meat industry. One found that Beef Production makes a relatively Small Contribution to Greenhouse Gas Emissions and another that Removing Animal Products from the Diet for Environmental reasons would likely cause widespread Nutritional Problems. The Agency issued a Third Press Release about Soy Processing that briefly mentioned Greenhouse Gas Emissions, noting that Reducing Fossil Fuel use or Emissions was “a personal consideration” for farmers.

By contrast, Research found that in the Case of the groundbreaking Rice Study USDA Officials not only Withheld their own Prepared Release, but actively sought to Prevent Dissemination of the Findings by the Agency’s Research Partners. Researchers at the University of Washington had collaborated with Scientists at USDA, as well as others in Japan, China and Australia, for more than Two years to study how Rising Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere could affect Rice, Humanity’s most important Crop. They found that it not only loses Protein and Minerals, but is also likely to lose Key Vitamins as Plants adapt to a Changing Environment.

The Study had undergone Intensive Review, addressing Questions from Academic Peers and within USDA itself. But after having Prepared an Announcement of the Findings, the Department abruptly decided Not to Publicize the Study and urged the University of Washington to hold back its own Release on the Findings, which Two of their Researchers had Co-Authored.

In an email to Staffers dated May 7th, 2018, an incredulous Jeff Hodson, a UW Communications Director, advised his Colleagues that the USDA Communications Office was “adamant that there was not enough data to be able to say what the paper is saying, and that others may question the science.” "It was so unusual to have an agency basically say: ‘Don't do a press release,’" Hodson recalled. "We stand for spreading the word about the science we do, especially when it has a potential impact on millions and millions of people."

Researchers say the Failure to Publicize their Work damages the Credibility of the Agriculture Department and Represents an Unwarranted Political Intrusion into Science. “Why the hell is the U.S., which is ostensibly the leader in science research, ignoring this?” said one USDA Scientist. “It’s not like we’re working on something that’s esoteric … we’re working on something that has dire consequences for the entire planet. You can only postpone reality for so long,” the Researcher added.

The Agency has stringent Guidelines to Prevent Political Meddling in Research projects themselves. The Trump Administration, Researchers say, is Not directly Censoring Scientific Findings or black-balling Research on Climate Change. Instead, they say, Officials are essentially choosing to Ignore or Downplay Findings that don’t Line Up with the Administration’s Agenda. Some Scientists see the fact that the Administration has Targeted another Research arm of USDA, the Economic Research Service (ERS), as a warning shot. Perdue is moving ERS out of Washington, which some Economists see as Retribution for Issuing Reports that Countered the Administration’s Agenda.

“There’s a sense that you should watch what you say,” said Ricardo Salvador, Director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s going to result in some pretty big gaps in practical knowledge. … it will take years to undo the damage.”

Among the ARS Studies that did Not receive Publicity from the Agriculture Department are:

- A 2017 Finding that Climate Change was likely to Increase Agricultural Pollution and Nutrient Runoff in the Lower Mississippi River Delta, but that certain Conservation Practices, including Not Tilling Soil and Planting Cover Crops, would help Farmers more than Compensate and bring down Pollutant Loads regardless of the Impacts of Climate Change.

- A January 2018 Finding that the Southern Plains, the Agriculture-rich Region that stretches from Kansas to Texas, is increasingly Vulnerable to the Effects of Climate Change, from the Crops that rely on the waning Ogallala Aquifer to the Cattle that Graze the Grasslands.

- An April 2018 Finding that Elevated CO2 Levels lead to “substantial and persistent” Declines in the Quality of certain Prairie Grasses that are important for Raising Cattle. The Protein content in the Grass Drops as Photosynthesis Kicks into high gear due to more Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere, a Trend that could pose Health Problems for the Animals and Cost Ranchers Money.

- A July 2018 Finding that Coffee, which is already being Affected by Climate Change, can potentially help Scientists figure out how to Evaluate and Respond to the Complex Interactions between Plants, Pests, and a Changing Environment. Rising CO2 in the Atmosphere is Projected to alter Pest Biology, such as by making Weeds Proliferate or Temperatures more Hospitable to Damaging Insects.

- An October 2018 Finding, in conjunction with the USDA Forest Service, that Climate Change would likely lead to more Runoff in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed during certain Seasons.

- A March 2019 Finding that Increased Temperature Swings might already be boosting Pollen to the point that it’s Contributing to Longer and more Intense Allergy Seasons across the Northern Hemisphere. “This study, done across multiple continents, highlights an important link between ongoing global warming and public health—one that could be exacerbated as temperatures continue to increase,”.

Those were among at least 45 ARS Studies related to Climate Change since the Beginning of the Trump Administration that did Not receive any Promotion. The Total Number of Studies that have Published on Climate-related Issues is likely to be Larger, because ARS Studies appear across a Broad Range of narrowly focused Journals and can be difficult to locate.

President Donald Trump has been Clear about his Views on Climate Science and Agricultural Research generally, he doesn’t think much of either. In each of his Budgets, Trump has proposed Deep Cuts to Agricultural Research, Requests that ignore a Broad, Bipartisan Coalition urging More Funding for such Science as China and other Competitors Accelerate their Spending. Congress has so far kept Funding mostly Flat.

After the Government Released its latest National Climate Assessment in November 2018, a Sweeping Document based on Science, Trump bluntly told Reporters: "I don't believe it." Officials at USDA apparently took the Hint and the Department did Not Promote the Report, despite the Fact that it was Drafted in Part by its Own Scientists and Included Serious Warnings about how a Changing Climate poses a Threat to Farmers and Ranchers across the Country.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Court Stops Federal Approval for Pipeline to Suck Water Out of Mojave to Sell

A Federal Court has Ruled that an Environmental Review Exemption by the Trump Administration for a Pipeline to Extract Water from the Mojave Desert is Illegal.

The 43-mile Pipeline planned by Cadiz Inc. would cut through Mojave Trails National Monument and other Public Lands in Southern California to suck Ground Water Out of the Desert Aquifer and Sell to Cities. It would Pump an Estimated 16 Billion Gallons a Year from the Fragile Desert Ecosystem.

California U.S. District Court Judge George Wu ruled Thursday that the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Failed to provide Sufficient Evidence for its 2017 Decision to Reverse its own 2015 Decision requiring an Environmental Review for the Pipeline. A Full Review could take at least and Year and could open up Cadiz to even More Litigation.

Cadiz, citing an Obscure 1873 Law, had argued that it had a Right to Build the Pipeline within a Railroad Right-of-Way without Environmental Review as long as the Water had a Rail-Related use. Cadiz claimed that some Water would be used by another Party to Operate a Steam-Powered Train.

The Obama Administration Rejected the Argument and Ordered a Full Environmental Review. That Decision was Reversed by the Trump Administration following the Appointment of David Bernhardt, a Former Lobbyist for Cadiz, as Deputy Interior Secretary. He’s now Secretary of the Interior.

“We’re grateful the court decision will stop the Trump administration’s blatant attempt to do a favor for their corporate friends,” said Lisa Belenky, a Senior Attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the Environmental Groups that Sued to Halt the Project. “This massive water-privatization scheme is not sustainable. Cadiz will devastate the entire Mojave Desert ecosystem that relies on that water for survival.”

Extracting the Water to Sell will Destroy Vegetation, including the famous Joshua Trees, and threaten the Survival of Wildlife, including: the rapidly vanishing Desert Tortoises, Kit Foxes, the Mojave Fringe-Toed Lizards, and Bighorn Sheep, according to the Center.

A Study by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2017 determined that the Project would be Catastrophic for the Desert. “Based on the independent study, it’s clear that Cadiz would quickly drain the aquifer, destroying all of the desert life it supports,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said then.

Earthjustice Attorney Greg Loarie hailed the Court for seeing “right through the Trump administration’s attempt to shoehorn the massive Cadiz pipeline into a railroad easement through Mojave Trails National Monument.”

Cadiz said in a Statement that the Company considers the Ruling a Procedural matter that will easily be Resolved.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker