Trump EPA to roll back Obama-era chemical rules

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to roll back a set of Obama-era standards outlining how companies must store dangerous chemicals, the Washington Post reports.

Where it stands: The rules were enacted following a 2013 explosion in Texas that killed 15 people. Officials blame arson for the deadly blast, but the fertilizer plant fire was fueled by 80,000–100,000 pounds of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate. Under the EPA’s newly weakened rules, companies will no longer have to provide public information on what chemicals they store onsite.

  • Companies will also be freed from several safety procedures, including obtaining a third-party audit following an accident or conducting an analysis after major chemical releases.

Between the lines: This is the latest rollback that shows how the broad reach of President Trump’s deregulatory push goes far beyond the climate change policies of his predecessor, Axios’ Amy Harder notes.

[Axios]

Trump formally pulls out of landmark Paris climate agreement

President Trump on Monday began the yearlong process of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

The official announcement cements a promise Trump made in the White House Rose Garden in 2017 when he first announced his intention to withdraw from the global climate change agreement signed by every other country in the world.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in a statement.

“President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement,” Pompeo said. “The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy.”

“The U.S. approach incorporates the reality of the global energy mix,” he added, arguing “innovation and open markets” will drive emissions reductions.

Trump’s views on the deal have been widely criticized by Democrats, environmentalists and even some Republicans, who say the U.S. is abdicating global leadership at a time when urgent action is required to stem the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

“It is shameful. It is cowardly when we need to be brave and act boldly. Long after the rest of us are gone, future generations will remember this president’s failure to lead on the greatest environmental challenge of our time,” said Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. 

“By breaking America’s commitment to the Paris Accord, President Trump is reducing America’s standing in the world,” Carper added.

The president has repeatedly boasted about already withdrawing the U.S. from the deal, despite the rigid timelines required by the agreement for nations seeking to leave it.

The agreement allowed the U.S. to begin the process to withdraw on Monday and finalize the U.S. exit from the agreement on Nov. 4, 2020 — just one day after the presidential election.

The process will kick off just weeks ahead of a United Nations summit in Spain, where leaders will hammer out final details for complying with the agreement.

Democrats have already asked U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft to recuse herself from the withdrawal process, given her financial and personal ties to the fossil fuel industry. Craft’s husband, Joe Craft, is CEO of Alliance Resource Partners, one of the largest coal companies in the U.S.

Recommitting the U.S. to the Paris climate accord has become a box to tick for Democrats running for president in 2020, most of whom have said they would do so their very first day in office.

While some Republicans may have changed their rhetoric on the realities of climate change, many remain opposed to the deal, arguing the U.S. should not have to make efforts to curb emissions without more efforts from other countries first.

House Democrats have taken steps aimed at preventing Trump from leaving the climate pact, passing a resolution in May that would block the move.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately said the bill “will go nowhere” in the Senate.

Climate experts have called the Paris deal the price of admission to the climate conversation, but warn that even the near-global effort may fall short of the action necessary to limit rising temperatures.

The landmark 2015 agreement signed by former President Obama requires the U.S. to reduce emissions about 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The withdrawal kickoff earned harsh rebuke from environmental groups.

“Donald Trump is the worst president in history for our climate and our clean air and water. Long after Trump is out of office, his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement will be seen as a historic error. Trump has once again demonstrated that he is more interested in catering to the interests of the world’s worst polluters than he is in listening to the American people,” the Sierra Club said in a statement.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called the move a “grave and reckless mistake.”

“Climate change won’t be solved without a global effort. It won’t happen without U.S. leadership. It won’t happen as long as the world’s second-largest climate polluter is backsliding on the climate pledge it has made to the rest of the world,” NRDC President Mitch Bernard said in a statement. 

[The Hill]

Trump Administration Moves To Expand Logging In Nation’s Largest National Forest

The Trump administration is proposing to exempt Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from long-standing protections against logging and development, opening the door for potential timber harvesting on 165,000 acres of old-growth forest.

The proposal, announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, comes in response to a request from the state, which wants to be fully exempted from a Clinton-era rule that limits road construction and timber harvesting in tens of millions of acres of national forest.

State officials, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), have asked the Trump administration for a “full exemption” from the 2001 Roadless Rule, which limits road construction and timber harvests. They argue that the protections are stifling the local economy.

“We have to be able to have a plan that is specific to us,” Murkowski told Alaska Public Radio in August, explaining that she spoke with the Trump administration early on about addressing the Roadless Rule.

Owen Graham, President of Alaska Forest Association, tells Alaska’s Energy Desk that Tuesday’s announcement a “great thing.”

“What we want is year-round manufacturing jobs and a lot more stability,” he says.

But, he says, this is just one step in the right direction. Retaliation tariffs placed on logs shipped to China have been hitting some sectors of the small industry hard. Graham is uncertain how long it will take to see big systemic changes in how the Tongass National Forest is managed.

“Right now the industry’s just crumbling apart. There’s hardly anybody left,” he says. “Every year we lose more of our loggers because there’s not enough to keep everyone going.”

But conservation groups say that removing protections would hurt the region’s fishing and tourism industries, while also worsening the effects of climate change.

The Tongass National Forest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in North America. Temperate rainforests sequester huge amounts of carbon dioxide, keeping the climate-warming gas out of the atmosphere.

“By seeking to weaken the Roadless Rule’s protections, the Forest Service is prioritizing one forest use — harmful logging — over mitigating climate change, protecting wildlife habitat, and offering unmatched sight-seeing and recreation opportunities found only in southeast Alaska,” said Josh Hicks of The Wilderness Society in a statement.

Tribal governments in Alaska also oppose lifting protections against logging.

Joel Jackson is President of the Organized Village of Kake, a remote village that depends on the wild food the Tongass provides. Historically, large-scale industrial logging damaged salmon streams.

“You know it’s sad that we have to continue to fight our own government to protect our forests and streams,” Jackson tells Alaska’s Energy Desk.

He says the Organized Village of Kake is considering filing a lawsuit against the Forest Service. “We don’t throw our hands up in the air,” he says. “We just buckle down and start talking [about] what’s the next step.”

The Forest Service’s proposal outlines six potential paths forward for the Tongass National Forest, ranging from doing nothing to removing protections for all of the forests 9.2 million acres of roadless area.

The agency says it prefers the latter, more extreme option. It would convert 165,000 acres of old-growth forest and 20,000 acres of young-growth that had been “previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.”

A formal notice is expected to be published in the Federal Register later this week.

The Forest Service says it will hold a series of public meetings on the proposal and open it to public comment through Dec. 17, with a final decision by 2020.

[NPR]

Trump Again Attacks Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

President Donald Trump is using his Twitter account to once again attack teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, this time to amplify a snide dismissal of her public appearances as “acting.”

The commander-in-chief on Thursday jabbed at the Swedish 16-year-old: He retweeted and praised a Twitter user who criticized the passionate speech Thunberg gave at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City late last month.

A user by the name of @Opinion8dKellie shared video of Thunberg’s speech, in which the teen slammed world leaders for what she said was more interest in making money than in saving the planet by reducing carbon emissions.

“What an actress!” the user, @Opinion8dKellie, tweeted, adding, “I won’t be held hostage by someone who just got a learner’s permit. Sorry kiddo!”

Though the tweet was written on Sept. 23, Trump, 73, retweeted it Thursday morning.

“Keep up the great work Kellie!” he wrote.

In the original tweet, @Opinion8dKellie also referred dismissively to when a visibly aggrieved Thunberg said at the U.N.: “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”

[People]

Trump threatens San Francisco with EPA violation because of city’s homeless

President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to have the Environmental Protection Agency issue a “notice” to San Francisco over the city’s homeless issue, comments that were criticized by local officials.

From Air Force One, Trump, who had been in California for a two-day fundraising trip, blamed the homeless population for environmental issues. “There’s tremendous pollution being put into the ocean,” he said, noting “there are needles, there are other things.”

“We’re going to be giving San Francisco — they’re in total violation — we’re going to be giving them the notice very soon,” Trump said.

“The EPA is going to be putting out a notice and you know they’re in serious violation and this is environmental, very environmental,” Trump said. “And they have to clean it up. We can’t have our cities going to hell.”

In January, San Francisco found that under the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development definition, around 8,000 people were experiencing homelessness. That was a 17 percent increase over the 2017 “point-in-time” count, according to a 2019 homeless count and survey report. But the city and county of San Francisco uses an expanded definition, under which the homeless population is around 9,700, the report said.

The city has long struggled with problems of human waste and needles on the streets in the Tenderloin district, where many addicts and homeless people are found. The city set up public toilets and last year announced formation of a special six-person “poop patrol” team to clean up the human waste.

The city also announced funding to hire people to pick up used needles, the Associated Press reported. The city’s health department hands out an estimated 400,000 clean syringes a month under programs designed to reduce the risk of infections like HIV that can be transmitted to people who share needles, the news service reported.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed seemed to bristle at the president’s comments Wednesday evening. She tweeted: “If the President wants to talk about homelessness, we are committed to working on actual solutions.” She cited plans to add 1,000 shelter beds and said the city is working to pass a $600 million affordable housing bond to create badly needed housing.

“In San Francisco, we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state,” the mayor said, according to NBC Bay Area.

Trump’s comments on homelessness in San Francisco and Los Angeles — there are almost 59,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in Los Angeles County, according to a 2019 count — come as he has escalated feuds with the Golden State.

On Wednesday, the president announced that he would revoke the state’s waiver that allows it to set its own vehicle emissions standards, which the state’s attorney general and governor have vowed to fight in court.

Earlier this week Gov. Gavin Newsom in a letter signed by state and city officials called on the Trump administration to provide 50,000 more vouchers for rental subsidies and to increase the value of those vouchers to account for higher rent.

Newsom said in the letter dated Monday that state and local governments have increased their support for homeless programs, but “in contrast, your Administration proposed significant cuts to public housing and programs like the Community Development Block Grant.”

But Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson rejected the housing aid request in a letter Wednesday, saying that California’s policies on law enforcement, an overregulated housing market and sanctuary policies regarding people living in the country illegally have driven up housing costs while increasing demand.

“Your letter seeks more federal dollars for California from hardworking American taxpayers but fails to admit that your state and local policies have played a major role in creating the current crisis,” Carson wrote.

Carson said that nearly 500,000 California households already receive some kind of federal housing assistance and that “federal taxpayers are clearly doing their part to help solve the crisis.”

Courts have limited what cities can do to clean up homeless encampments, the AP reported.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to join an effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision that restricts efforts to bar homeless people from sleeping on sidewalks in Western states.

The board voted 3-2 to file a motion supporting Boise, Idaho, in its efforts to overturn a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said it was unconstitutional to arrest or otherwise sanction homeless people who sleep on sidewalks when there aren’t enough shelter beds.

[NBC News]

Trump opens protected Alaskan Arctic refuge to oil drillers

The Trump administration is finalizing plans to allow oil and gas drilling in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that has been protected for decades.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will offer leases on essentially the entire 1.6m-acre coastal plain, which includes places where threatened polar bears have dens and porcupine caribou visit for calving. Drilling operations are expected to be problematic for Indigenous populations, many of which rely on subsistence hunting and fishing.

The Democrat-controlled House just hours earlier passed legislation to protect the area, but Republicans in the majority in the Senate are highly unlikely to approve the bill.

The Alaska Wilderness League’s executive director Adam Kolton said that “to no one’s surprise, the administration chose the most aggressive leasing alternative, not even pretending that this is about restraint or meaningful protection”.

“With an eye on developing the entirety of the fragile coastal plain, the administration has been riding roughshod over science, silencing dissent and shutting out entire Indigenous communities,” Kolton said.

The environmentally-sensitive area of Alaska’s Arctic was forbidden for drilling until a change by Congress in an unrelated 2017 tax bill, which Kolton called a “sham of a vote”.

BLM on Thursday issued its final environmental impact statement for the project and said it aims to start granting leases by the end of the year.

The bureau estimates oil extracted and burned from the area could put the equivalent of between 0.7 million and 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year. At the maximum, that would be the same as roughly a million more cars on the road annually.

In reviews of a draft impact statement, the US Fish and Wildlife Service said the BLM underestimated the climate impacts of the oil leases.

Parts of BLM’s final statement suggest – contrary to evidence – that the current rapid heating of the earth is cyclical rather than human-made.

“Much attention in recent decades has focused on the potential climate change effects of GHGs [greenhouse gasses], especially carbon dioxide (CO2), which has been increasing in concentration in the global atmosphere since the end of the last ice age,” the document said.

Global scientists, however, have concluded that human actions, including burning fossil fuels, are the primary driver of the 1C temperature increase observed since industrialization.

In other sections, the document notes that fossil fuels contribute to greenhouse gases that heat the planet.

[The Guardian]

Trump delivers bizarre speech in Baltimore during Democratic debate

While the Democratic presidential candidates debated in Houston on Thursday night about environmental policy, the role of racism in American society, health care access, and other issues, President Donald Trump gave a speech to a House Republican retreat in Baltimore. The contrast between the president and the Democrats who are vying to take his job was remarkable.

Perhaps the clearest distinction came as Trump resurrected his fake middle-class tax cuts while Democrats had a detailed conversation about how to provide affordable health care to more people without dramatically raising taxes — within minutes of each other.

“We’re now working on a tax cut for middle-income people that is going to be very, very inspirational,” he told House Republicans, bringing up an idea he hyped just before last November’s midterm elections, only to forget about it as soon as it came and went. “It’s going to be something that I think it’s what everybody is looking for. We’ll be announcing it sometime in the next year.”

While one can pick holes in the tax plans offered by Democrats, at least they’re coherent plans. Trump, on the other hand, is offering soundbites that he thinks will play well with voters without seemingly having any intention of following through.

But Trump has a long history of this sort of thing. On Tuesday, for instance, he vowed that Republicans “will always protect patients with preexisting conditions,” despite the fact that two years ago he wholeheartedly embraced health care legislation that would’ve resulted in millions of people losing coverage. Trump even mocked the late Sen. John McCain during his speech for voting against it.

That was par for the course in Trump’s more than hour-long speech, during which he made a number of outlandish and self-refuting claims. He began by bragging about the move his administration made earlier in the day to repeal an Obama-era rule meant to limit pollution in America’s rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. But a short time later, he seemed to accidentally admit that rules of that sort have helped the country’s water remain relatively clean.

“The Clean Waters act didn’t give you clean waters — by the way, today we have the cleanest air, we have the cleanest water that we’ve ever had in the history of our country,” Trump said, falsely, combining two statements that directly contradict each other.

When he wasn’t contradicting himself or gaslighting, Trump offered hyperbolic commentary about MS-13 (“They take young women. They slice them up with a knife. They slice them up — beautiful, young.”), Democratic presidential candidates (“They’re gonna take your money, they’re gonna take — and very much hurt — your families.), and expressed his now-familiar ignorance about wind energy.

“If you happen to be watching the Democrat debate and the wind isn’t blowing, you’re not going to see the debate … ‘the goddamn windmill stopped!’” he said.

Trump even took aim at the city that was hosting the House Republican retreat, characterizing Baltimore as a city that has “been destroyed by decades of failed and corrupt rule.” He closed by promising some sort of major federal action unless Los Angeles and San Francisco take quick action to clean up homelessness.

The spectacle was dark, and at times brutal. Republicans, as they have mostly done since Trump became the Republican nominee for president in 2016, cheered.

Meanwhile, in Houston, Democratic presidential candidates took a few potshots at each other and, of course, at Trump — but they also got deep into the weeds of policy and outlined their respective visions of an America where immigrants are treated with respect, the climate crisis is taken seriously, and claims about health care proposals are backed up with actual plans.

The difference couldn’t have been clearer. Then again, it was just as clear in 2016.

[Vox]

Trump Administration to Finalize Rollback of Clean Water Protections

The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to complete the legal repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation, which had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies.

The rollback of the 2015 measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, has been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration, when President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin the work of repealing and replacing it.

Weakening the Obama-era water rule had been a central campaign pledge for Mr. Trump, who characterized it as a federal land-grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit.

Environmentalists say Mr. Trump’s push to loosen rules on clean water regulations represents an assault on protecting the nation’s streams and wetlands at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared his commitment to “crystal-clean water.

The repeal of the water rule, which is scheduled to be announced at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, will take effect in a matter of weeks.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, which had worked together to write the original Obama rule, are expected to issue a new, looser replacement rule by the end of this year.

The clean water rollback is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration to weaken or undo major environmental rules, including proposals to weaken regulations on planet-warming emissions from carspower plants and oil and gas drilling rigs, a series of moves designed to push new drilling in the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and efforts to weaken protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Environmentalists assailed the move.

“With many of our cities and towns living with unsafe drinking water, now is not the time to cut back on clean water enforcement,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We need more, not less, protection for clean water.”

But farming groups, a key political constituency for Mr. Trump, praised the repeal of a regulation that they said had severely restricted how farmers could use their land.

“The rule that was developed in 2015 was a significant overreach,” said Don Parrish, director of regulatory relations with the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has lobbied for the repeal and replacement of the rule. “It overstepped the limit of protecting clean water and tried to regulate land use. It created liabilities that can end up putting farmers in jail.” He was referring to actions like using pesticides, he said.

The Obama rule, developed under the authority of the 1972 Clean Water Act, was designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water, protecting sources of drinking water for about a third of the United States. It extended existing federal authority to limit pollution in large bodies of water, like the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, to smaller bodies that drain into them, such as tributaries, streams and wetlands.

Under the rule, farmers using land near streams and wetlands were restricted from doing certain kinds of plowing and planting certain crops and would have been required E.P.A. permits in order to use chemical pesticides and fertilizers that could have run off into those water bodies.

[The New York Times]

White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump


Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning.

In pressing NOAA’s acting administrator to take action, Mr. Ross warned that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation was not addressed, The New York Times previously reported. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone, and a senior administration official on Wednesday said Mr. Mulvaney did not tell the commerce secretary to make such a threat.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intervening in the professional weather forecasting system to justify the president’s mistaken assertion. The Commerce Department’s inspector general is investigating how that statement came to be issued, saying it could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which is controlled by Democrats, announced on Wednesday that it too has opened an investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions.

The White House had no immediate comment on Wednesday, but the senior administration official said Mr. Mulvaney was interested in having the record corrected because, in his view, the Birmingham forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been forecasts showing possible impact on Alabama.

Mr. Trump was furious at being contradicted by the forecasters in Alabama. On Sept. 1, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

For nearly a week, Mr. Trump kept insisting he was right, displaying outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

Mr. Ross called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings, and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president, according to three people informed about the discussions.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political appointees at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode.

The political staff at an agency typically includes a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides. They are appointed to their jobs by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain in their jobs as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday called the Birmingham office’s statement “inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Dr. Jacobs has since sought to reassure his work force and the broader scientific community concerned about political interference.

“This administration is committed to the important mission of weather forecasting,” Dr. Jacobs told a weather conference in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday. “There is no pressure to change the way you communicate or forecast risk in the future.”

In the speech, Dr. Jacobs praised Mr. Trump, calling him “genuinely interested in improving weather forecasts,” and echoed the president’s position that Dorian initially threatened Alabama. “At one point, Alabama was in the mix, as was the rest of the Southeast.”

He also said he still had faith in the Birmingham office. “The purpose of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian,” Dr. Jacobs said. “What it did not say, however, is that we understand and fully support the good intent of the Birmingham weather forecast office, which was to calm fears in support of public safety.”

[The New York Times]

NOAA backs Trump on Alabama hurricane forecast, rebukes Weather Service for accurately contradicting him

The federal agency that oversees the National Weather Service has sided with President Trump over its own scientists in the ongoing controversy over whether Alabama was at risk of a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated Alabama was in fact threatened by the storm at the time Trump tweeted Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

Referencing archived hurricane advisories, the NOAA statement said that information provided to the president and the public between Aug. 28 and Sept. 2 “demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.”

In an unusual move, the statement also admonished the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Ala., which had released a tweet contradicting Trump’s claim and stating, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”

The NOAA statement said: “The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Released six days after Trump’s first tweet on the matter, the NOAA statement was unsigned, neither from the acting head of the agency nor any particular spokesman. It also came a day after the president’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser released a statement justifying Trump’s claims of the Alabama threat.

The NOAA statement Friday makes no reference to the fact that when Trump tweeted that Alabama was at risk, it was not in the National Hurricane Center’s “cone of uncertainty,” which is where forecasters determine the storm is most likely to track. Alabama also had not appeared in the cone in days earlier, and no Hurricane Center text product ever mentioned the state.

Trump’s tweet that Alabama would be affected by the storm gained national attention Wednesday when he presented a modified version of the forecast cone from Aug. 29, extended into Alabama — hand-drawn using a Sharpie. The crudely altered map appeared to represent an effort to retroactively justify the original Alabama tweet.

The doctored map went viral, becoming a source of ridicule among political pundits and late-night talk show hosts, who accused the president of dishonesty.

[The Washington Post]

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