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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

What is Going On in Washington, D.C.?

Jim Bridenstine being sworn in at NASA. Photo: Bill Ingalls, NASA.

By George Harvey

This was supposed to be a very simple article, providing people with a single link and some information on its usefulness. That link goes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Local Government Solar Project Portal (http://bit.ly/EPA-local-solar-portal), which is on the EPA’s web site. The portal provides resources local governments can use to help get solar power. If you are a local government or plan to be one (or even not interested in being a government), you might look into it.

As I checked the site, however, I found something more interesting that I thought many people would like to know about. At the top of the page, and in fact at the top of all the EPA pages I saw, was this note:

“We’ve made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.”

This referred to the information Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt wanted to delete. In the back of my mind, I remembered that it had been made available, but I was not aware of what I found next.

Slightly lower on the home page there is a link to “Environmental Topics.” That page has a link to the “Air” section, which has, in turn, a link to a page called “Transportation and Climate Change.” (http://bit.ly/EPA-climate-change) There, we find this statement:

“Burning fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is causing the Earth’s atmosphere to warm, resulting in changes to the climate we are already starting to see today.”

This statement, hardly what I would expect from Scott Pruitt’s EPA, brought some news I have seen to mind. One item was reported in Bloomberg on May 11, 2018. (http://bit.ly/senators-and-tariffs) According to that article, eight Republican senators had asked that tariffs on solar panels for utility-scale solar projects be dropped.

Another article, which appeared a few days later, was even more surprising. Jim Bridenstine, as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Oklahoma, had delivered speeches denying climate change. Though Bridenstine had no background in science, Donald Trump appointed him to be the head of NASA, and his position was confirmed on April 19, 2018. After spending about four weeks there, he seems to have had a change of heart on climate change, as reported by The Atlantic. (http://bit.ly/Atlantic-Bridenstine) At a “town hall” meeting at NASA headquarters, he made this statement:

“I don’t deny that consensus that the climate is changing. In fact, I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we human beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it into the atmosphere in volumes that we haven’t seen, and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it.”

Something may be changing besides the climate.

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