Progressive Briefing for Friday, August 3, 2018

7 hospitalized after pipeline explosion, Senate Democrats agree to major military spending, White House rolls back fuel economy standards, and more.


Ireland bans onshore fracking and joins France, Germany and Bulgaria as fourth country to make history

Ireland made history joining France, Germany and Bulgaria to ban onshore fracking. On Wednesday, the Irish Senate “passed legislature” to “outlaw the controversial drilling technique,” Common Dreams reported.

The bill was introduced by a private member last year. Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin, who is not part of the Irish government, introduced the bill because he believed fracking needed to be “seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland.”

40 Democrats join Republicans and vote for $717 billion military spending bill

Joining Republicans in voting for the National Defense Authorization Act, 40 democratic senators helped pass the bill that will increase military spending among other things on Wednesday. The NDAA will hit Donald Trump’s desk today and is “on track to become law before the start of the fiscal year for the first time since the fiscal 1997 bill,” The Hill reported.

Overall, the NDAA will increase military spending by $82 billion for fiscal year 2019, Common Dreams reported.

7 hospitalized after pipeline explosions in Texas

Seven people were injured and hospitalized after a series of natural gas pipeline explosions in Midland County, Texas on Wednesday, according to local media.

All pipelines in the region have been shut in. Midland sits in the booming oil- and shale-rich Permian Basin, which has multiple pipelines serving the field.

The operator of the pipeline in question is unknown at this time, Midland public information officer Elana Ladd said to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. She added that fire department personnel are allowing the remaining gas to burn off.

White House proposal rolls back fuel economy standards, no exception for California

The Trump administration has proposed a rollback of Obama-era fuel efficiency and emissions standards, while simultaneously taking aim at California’s unique ability to set more stringent rules.

Under the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency called for the fuel economy standards for new vehicles to ratchet up over time. The increasingly strict standards were designed to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

On Thursday, the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a new proposed rule that would instead freeze the standards at their 2020 levels for six years.

Koch-funded groups mount PR and media campaign to fight carbon pricing

A coalition of right-wing organizations is waging a multilayered attack to erode growing support for carbon pricing. Most of the groups involved have been funded by the Koch network or other fossil fuel interests.

Several different carbon-pricing mechanisms – variously backed by groups of progressives, Democrats, establishment Republicans, or business interests – are being proposed at the state and national level. To counter these initiatives, the right-wing coalition is running a public relations campaign featuring industry-friendly arguments and climate denial. Their advocacy includes exerting direct pressure on lawmakers to oppose carbon-pricing initiatives and placing op-eds in right-wing and mainstream media publications.


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