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Cuts To The EPA Budget

Cuts to the EPA budget

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be used to policy changes with every election cycle, the changes it has had to shoulder under President Donald Trump are of historically unprecedented proportions.

The EPA has had to suffer the most as Trump scales back on the United States’ leadership in environmental stewardship, most notably of which was its pullout from the Paris agreement on climate change. But perhaps the agency's biggest hurdle is the massive cut from the EPA’s budget by nearly a third. Much of this comes from axing 3,000 out of its 15,000 positions. Mercifully, the EPA’s demographics skew closer to early-retirement to retiring ages, which would allow the agency under Scott Pruitt to instead offer monetary incentives and buyout packages worth $12 million for employees to retire rather than be laid off.

Although these incentives have not been specifically stated yet, a memo sent on May 17 stated a payout of up to $25,000 for employees who opt for early retirement. But while these incentives make it easier to downsize the EPA’s workforce, the fact remains that many long-time employees are disgruntled and demoralized by the lack of support from President Trump.

Furthermore, those who are eligible for the early retirement package are likely the EPA’s most experienced as well. A mass exodus would leave the EPA with a younger and less experienced demographic whose ability to ward off Trump’s meat-ax could be put to question.


Where will these newly retired employees go now?

 Many of them have expressed a willingness to continue working in other jobs where they can expand on the work they have begun while at the EPA. California, for example, is reportedly trying to entice many of its experienced workers to continue their careers in the Golden State. In fact, California has been busy handing out flyers to encourage those who will retire to come work with the state. Regardless, one can only hope that these employees find their place and continue the work they do despite the lack of support from this administration.

One can only hope that this mass exodus of scientists and leaders could raise awareness about what this could mean for the environment, especially as the EPA is currently under the leadership of Exxon Mobil's Scott Pruitt, which recently approved conducting a climate impact report despite repeated attempts to downplay man's role. As Trump’s efforts to repeal policies tackling climate change endanger the United States’ natural resources, many are hopeful that leaders from both Congress and Senate heed the people’s call for change. Until then, it’s a waiting game for everyone who is a stakeholder in the environment.

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Crime Stats 2017

The recently reports on the crime statistics released by the FBI, National Crime Survey and the Gallup show that there is an enormous decrease in the property crime while the cases of violent crime has increased in the year 2017. This trend can be traced back from the report released in September 2016. The FBI releases the annual compilation of the crimes that were reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting. The report shows that there was a three point nine percent increase in violent crimes and two point six decreases of the property crimes in the year 2015. Since then, the trend has been the same as the crime statistics of 2016-2017 shows that the violent crimes have had an upward trend while the property crimes occurrence has greatly decreased. The violent crimes include rape, murder, hate crime, robbery and also aggravated assault which has increased by almost 5.3 percent from the year 2016 to almost reach six million cases in the year 2017. The property crimes include motor vehicle and larceny-theft as well as burglary which has decreased by 0.6 percent from the previous year.

According to the Washington post, hate crimes which include attacks against Muslims and the American Jews in various United States cities in the year 2017 have spiked upsurges that lead to loss of life and destruction of property. The crime levels in January 2017 were higher than other months due to the various upsurges due to the election and inauguration of President Donald Trump according to the research done by researchers at the California State University. Statistics from the University shows that the hate crimes, especially in the six major cities including Ohio, Chicago, NY, and Columbus, recorded double-digit rise in the first few months of 2017.The crime statistics 2017 for New York show twenty-four percent increase in the hate crimes which is the highest in the recent past. Chicago statistics show almost twenty percent crime increase from the year 2016. Ohio and Columbus have reported nearly ten percent hate crimes increase from the previous year. The statistics show that Seattle and Washington have registered an increase of six percent in the malicious harassment according to the preliminary data provided for the first half of the year 2017.

Although the crime statistics 2017 show a slight increase in violent crimes from the previous years, the percentage could be more since there are countless incidences of violent crimes that are not reported to the police as the involved individuals see this is a private matter and is not that severe to be reported to the police. The National Crime Survey shows that only forty-seven percent of violent crimes have been reported in the year 2016-2017 as the involved parties do not wish to involve the police as they fear that something worse will happen to them since they do not fully trust that the police will protect them from their oppressors. The year 2017 is a controversial year in the crime statistical analysis as crime has been greatly politicized as the major newspapers and various criminologists in America insists that the violent crime is not rising while other media outlets and some criminologists insist that there is an enormous increase in violent crimes but a decrease in property crimes.

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Trump and the Paris Climate Accord

US president Donald Trump announced on Thursday he was withdrawing the country from the Paris climate accord, fulfilling his campaign promise. The proclamation has drawn criticism from business leaders, politicians including former president Barack Obama and across section of world leaders.

He made the proclamation from the White House. Trump, however, said he was open to renegotiating some parts of the agreement. The Paris climate accord was inked under Barack Obama's administration. All nations, except two, have signed it.

Despite criticism of the move, Trump insisted he was fulfilling the will of voters who elected him. Business executives, foreign leaders and his own daughter, Ivanka Trump, heavily lobbied for him to remain part of the accord. But they finally lost out to conservatives who claim the accord is not good for the US.

Lengthy process

Trump, with triggering official withdrawal procedures, according to CNN, has sparked a lengthy process which will not end until November 2020, and this is going to become a hot topic of debate when the next presidential contest will he held the same month in 2020.

Trump, in his remarks, said he was open to re-brokering the country's carbon reduction commitments. However, he did not express any urgency in bringing the country back into the deal that he said put "draconian," financial burden on the (American) people.

Later, leaders of Germany, Italy and France in a joint statement indicated the US couldn't renegotiate unilaterally the agreement, while the UN body which facilitated the accord said it can't be renegotiated, based on the request of just one party.

White House officials, briefing reporters, would not specify what parameters may be acceptable to the president in a new agreement.

The accord was aimed to reduce carbon emissions by between 26 and 28 percent in ten years. The president announced also US is going to stall all contribution to United Nation's Green Climate Fund. He said this was costing the country so much money.

He added that he could not support a deal which is unfair to and punishes the United States.

Trump vigorously campaigned against Paris climate accord, promising to “cancel” the agreement. His aides said he was insistent on fulfilling his campaign promises, even though some members of his administration have urged him to remain in the accord.

A person familiar with the president's thinking, according to CNN, said Trump was convinced he needed to withdraw from the agreement, and there's little chance of convincing him otherwise.

And the move's opponents say it threatens to isolate the US in global effort to combat global warming, and leaves countries such as China to fulfill leadership void.

Criticism Galore

Former president Barrack Obama observed that this decision is going to leave American workers behind the countries who remain part of the pact.

The chief executive of Tesla, Elon Musk, who encouraged the president to remain in the accord, said he's going to resign from the White House business councils because of the decision.

Many foreign leaders have also criticized the decision, with some of them directly phoning him. These included Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister who said he was disappointed with this decision, while Emmanuel Macron, French president informed him the accord couldn't be renegotiated. China indicated it was sticking with her commitment to the acord.

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Exxon Mobile Climate Impact Report

On Wednesday 31, May 2017, it was announced that the a proposal to study the impact of carbon reduction and other government policies on the future and profits of Exxon Mobil corp had been approved by 62 % of the shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp. The proposal for studying the climate impact had been initiated by 54 different financial, religious and corporate governance activist groups to protect the interests of the shareholders of Exxon. The investors are expected to meet officials of Exxon corp in summer 2017, to decide on the criteria for studying the Climate Impact on the future growth prospect and challenges faced by Exxon corp, one of the largest energy companies

The Climate Impact vote at Exxon corp follows similar Climate Impact proposals in other oil companies like Devon Energy and Hess corp. Increased carbon emissions from vehicles and other equipment which use fossil fuel like oil has led to global warming worldwide, resulting in drought, water shortages and other changes in climate. Hence to reduce carbon emissions, countries worldwide are trying to ensure that energy companies like Exxon corp take the necessary steps. Though the United states president decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change recently, this will not affect the decision of Exxon corp to consider the Climate Impact

Tracey Rembert, assistant director of Catholic Responsible investing, which was one of the fifty four groups which was responsible for initiating the climate change proposal said that they had held periodic meetings with Exxon to discuss annual meeting proposals a few months ago. The investors want Exxon to be prepared and plan for adverse business conditions like hostile government policies, disruptive technologies in the energy sector and climate change policy which put restrictions on energy companies. In addition to change in customer preferences, lowering of oil prices, aggressive carbon reduction policies, the activist groups want Exxon to be prepared for a worst case business conditions.

Tapping oil and gas reserves requires investment of a large amount of money and resources, however with governments of countries world wide pressurizing oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp to reduce the carbon emission, in future it may not be economical for the companies to continue with their current business model, and this may cause losses to investors in these companies. Ceres, a non profit group that tracks the environmental initiatives of publicly listed companies claims that similar proposals for climate impact analysis on company futures received at least 40 % shareholder approval in other listed energy companies like Duke Energy, Southern co and Marathon oil

Since Exxon Mobil is one of the largest energy companies, the decision of the shareholders regarding Climate Impact is likely to be noticed by its competitor and other oil companies also. For example last year, a similar carbon reduction analysis received the backing of 23% shareholders at Hess. Though a Hess official confirmed that they were in touch with major share holders, Hess declined to comment. The directors at both Hess and Mobil Exxon Corp have opposed the Climate Impact studies proposed by activist shareholders of the energy companies .

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