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EPA Chief Calls For ‘Exit’ From Paris Climate Agreement and More in Politics Today

by Countable | 4.14.17

It’s difficult to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in this country and to break through the clutter, so we’re here to make it easier. Here’s what we at Countable are reading today:

1. Trump’s EPA chief Scott Pruitt calls for an ‘exit’ to the Paris climate agreement

President Trump’s top environment official called for an "exit" from the historic Paris agreement Thursday, the first time such a high-ranking administration official has so explicitly disavowed the agreement endorsed by nearly 200 countries to fight climate change.

It is far from clear how the Trump administration could actually "exit" the Paris agreement, assuming that it wants to. Now that the agreement has entered into force, it takes three years under its terms for a party to withdraw, followed by a one-year waiting period — a length roughly equal to Trump’s first term in office.

Read more at the Washington Post.

2. Democrats Say They Won’t Be Bullied Into a Repeal of Obamacare

Congressional Democrats said Thursday they won’t be coerced into negotiating a repeal of the Affordable Care Act by President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold federal payments critical to maintaining the stability of the insurance market.

But the president’s comments could have a more immediate effect on Capitol Hill, thrusting the payments to insurers into negotiations over a spending bill needed to keep the government running beyond April 28, when its current funding expires.

Mr. Trump said Wednesday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he was considering halting payments to insurers in the ACA to compel Democrats to work with him on overhauling the health-care system.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

3. Can Texas nullify U.S. laws, court rulings it doesn’t like?

After falling short in his bid to block Texas from complying with the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling in 2015, state Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. is back this legislative session with a bigger, bolder idea — a process allowing Texas to declare federal laws, rules and court decisions unconstitutional and unenforceable in the Lone Star State.

The Republican from Magnolia also wants treaties and presidential orders to fall under state scrutiny to block any federal action taken beyond the scope of power delegated to the U.S. government by the Constitution.

Read more at the Austin American-Statesman.

Read about North Carolina’s attempts to defy the Supreme Court at Countable.

4. Afghanistan says 36 militants killed after U.S. drops 'mother of all bombs' against Islamic State

A day after the United States dropped the largest non-nuclear weapon it has ever used in combat, U.S. military helicopters pounded a mountainside village in eastern Afghanistan on Friday in an ongoing operation against fighters loyal to Islamic State.

Plumes of smoke were visible from several miles away as the airstrikes provided cover for Afghan commandos and U.S. advisers who have been locked in a two-week battle to clear a network of tunnels used by Islamic State militants — the target of the Thursday bombing.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast — a 20,000-pound weapon dubbed the "mother of all bombs" — shot flames and smoke into the sky for more than four hours and marked a sharp escalation of U.S. operations against Islamic State’s affiliate in South Asia.

Read more at the LA Times.

5. Siege Has Ended, but Battle Over Public Lands Rages On

A year ago, this corner of rural Oregon became center stage in the drawn-out drama over public lands when armed militia leaders seized a national wildlife refuge, arguing that the government had too much control of land in the West.

Now that President Trump is in office, people here and in other parts of the 11 states where 47 percent of the landmass is publicly owned are watching to see what he will do on everything related to public lands, from coal mining and cattle grazing to national monuments and parks. In Burns, some ranchers and others are feeling emboldened, hopeful that regulatory rollbacks by the federal government will return lands to private use and shore up a long-struggling economy.

But the change in administration has also spawned a countermovement of conservatives and corporate executives who are speaking up alongside environmentalists in defense of public lands and now worry about losing access to hunting grounds and customers who prize national parks and wildlife.

Read more at the New York Times.

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: UNClimateChange via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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