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Avlon: Trump's projections serve a serious purpose. Perdue announced earlier Thursday morning that the Economic Research Service, which provides research and statistical analysis for lawmakers, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which allocates federal research funding, will be relocated to Kansas City from Washington, DC, the final announcement in a process that began last year.
The department says the move will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, but many employees view the change as politically driven and a way to disrupt climate research and other work with which their bosses disagree. Both agencies recently voted overwhelmingly to unionize to push back against the move.
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Perdue announced the final relocation site in a letter that was distributed to employees Thursday morning. Perdue and the department have argued that the move will lower living costs, save taxpayer dollars and move the agencies closer to "stakeholders. Near the end of his nine-minute speech, Perdue said, "Moving you out of the capital area in no way lessens your importance. But outside observers, current employees and members of Congress have pushed back against the plan since it was first announced last year.
Kevin Hunt, acting vice president of the ERS Union, condemned the move as "cold-hearted" and that it "highlights his disregard for the rights and well-being of employees. One watchdog group opposed to the move has previously said the relocation is a "back-door" way to cut staff. The USDA also walked back its previously announced plan to reorganize the Economic Research Service under a political branch of the department, saying they will not move forward with this "after hearing feedback from stakeholders and members of Congress," according to Thursday's release.
The agency will remain part of the research, education and economics mission of the department. The relocation plan has drawn opposition from House Democrats , who included language in their budget banning USDA from using funds allocated by Congress to relocate either agency outside the capital. A group of Democratic senators have also introduced legislation that would bar USDA from moving the research agencies.
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In a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, Perdue said that "Congress can do what Congress does, and we will respect that. The USDA's inspector general is also investigating whether Perdue has the legal authority to move the agencies. Perdue also thanked the two research agencies for their "professionalism" and said it's "understandable" that some have expressed displeasure.
He added that this decision was not made "with disruption in mind," and that federal employees have many other opportunities within the government should they choose to stay. Employees were to receive their reassignment information on Thursday. The practice, which can kill marine life and disrupt fisheries, was blocked under the Obama administration. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Read more.
Loosened offshore drilling safety regulations implemented by the Obama administration following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The revised rules include reduced testing requirements for blowout prevention systems. Completed preliminary environmental reviews to clear the way for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Congress; Interior Department Read more.
Lifted an Obama-era freeze on new coal leases on public lands. But, in April , a judge ruled that the Interior Department could not begin selling new leases without completing an environmental review. A month later, the agency published a draft assessment that concluded restarting federal coal leasing would have little environmental impact.
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Executive Order; Interior Department Read more. Repealed an Obama-era rule governing royalties for oil, gas and coal leases on federal lands , which replaced a s rule that critics said allowed companies to underpay the federal government. The Interior Department is reviewing the decision.
Agriculture Department; Interior Department Read more. Ordered review of regulations on oil and gas drilling in national parks where mineral rights are privately owned. Recommended shrinking three marine protected areas , or opening them to commercial fishing. Ordered review of regulations on offshore oil and gas exploration by floating vessels in the Arctic that were developed after a accident. Approved the Keystone XL pipeline rejected by President Barack Obama, but a federal judge blocked the project from going forward without an adequate environmental review process.
Trump later attempted to side-step the ruling by issuing a presidential permit, but the project remains tied up in court. Executive Order; State Department Read more. Revoked Obama-era flood standards for federal infrastructure projects , like roads and bridges. The standards required the government to account for sea-level rise and other climate change effects. Relaxed the environmental review process for federal infrastructure projects.
Revoked a directive for federal agencies to minimize impacts on water, wildlife, land and other natural resources when approving development projects. Congress Read more. Withdrew an Obama-era order to consider climate change in managing natural resources in national parks. National Park Service Read more.
Restricted most Interior Department environmental studies to one year in length and a maximum of pages, citing a need to reduce paperwork. Eliminated the use of an Obama-era planning system designed to minimize harm from oil and gas activity on sensitive landscapes , such as national parks. Eased the environmental review processes for small wireless infrastructure projects with the goal of expanding 5G wireless networks.
Federal Communications Commission Read more. Withdrew Obama-era policies designed to maintain or, ideally improve, natural resources affected by federal projects.
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Proposed plans to streamline the environmental review process for Forest Service projects. Agriculture Department Read more. Changed the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, making it more difficult to protect wildlife from long-term threats posed by climate change. Opened nine million acres of Western land to oil and gas drilling by weakening habitat protections for the sage grouse , an imperiled bird with an elaborate mating dance. Overturned a ban on the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on federal lands. Overturned a ban on the hunting of predators in Alaskan wildlife refuges.
Ended an Obama-era rule barring hunters on some Alaska public lands from using bait to lure and kill grizzly bears. Withdrew proposed limits on the number of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles that people who fish could unintentionally kill or injure with sword-fishing nets on the West Coast. In , California issued a state rule prohibiting the use of the nets the rule was intending to regulate. Amended fishing regulations for a number of species to allow for longer seasons and higher catch rates.
Rolled back a roughly year-old interprentation of a policy aimed at protecting migratory birds , potentially running afoul of treaties with Canada and Mexico. Overturned a ban on using parts of migratory birds in handicrafts made by Alaskan Natives. Rejected a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos , a pesticide linked to developmental disabilities in children. Narrowed the scope of a law mandating safety assessments for potentially toxic chemicals , like dry-cleaning solvents and paint strippers.
The E. Announced a review of an Obama-era rule lowering coal dust limits in mines. The head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration said there were no immediate plans to change the dust limit, but the review is continuing. Labor Department Read more. Scaled back pollution protections for certain tributaries and wetlands that were regulated under the Clean Water Act by the Obama administration.