The Vitality 202: What Whitefish actually reveals in regards to the Trump administration

THE LIGHTBULB

Donald Trump talking throughout a Cupboard badembly on the White Home as Ryan Zinke, left, listens. (AP Picture/Evan Vucci)

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A lot of the information protection about restoring energy to Puerto Rico considerations a tiny city greater than three,000 miles away from the hurricane-hit island.

Whitefish, Mont. — inhabitants: 7,279 — is dwelling to Whitefish Vitality, an organization that had simply two workers on the day Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. Someway, that tiny firm gained a $300 million, non-competitive contract with the Puerto Rican Electrical Energy Authority (PREPA).

After a refrain of criticism from authorities contracting consultants and members of Congress, PREPA moved to cancel the contract on Sunday. Now, 40 days after Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló mentioned he would make mutual badist requests from New York and Florida.

Like in lots of small city, Whitefish residents know one another — a truism that features Whitefish chief government Andrew Techmanski and Inside Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Zinke’s son had labored at Whitefish final summer time. In an area tv interview, Techmanski mentioned he was in contact with Zinke after the contract was awarded as a way to attempt to unencumber extra sources.

It is that small-town connection that first drew scrutiny. However even when a son’s summertime job is the place the inside secretary’s involvement with Whitefish begins and ends, there are different fishy issues in regards to the now-cancelled contract. Contemplate what The Put up has reported up to now:

  • At $462 an hour for a foreman and $319.04 an hour for a lineman, Whitefish’s pay scales seem like increased than rivals. In distinction, the Military Corps of Engineers, which is contracting out its personal work repairing electrical strains, has been providing to pay corporations as a lot as $195.04 an hour for a journeyman lineman and $230.32 an hour for a common foreman, The Put up’s Steven Mufson, Arelis R.  Hernández and Aaron C. Davis report.
  • Techmanski’s spouse, Amanda, was listed as one in all Whitefish’s two managers regardless of saying on Fb that she simply began a new job as a nurse practitioner. In July, Whitefish certified as an “economically deprived woman-owned small enterprise” in one other contract with the Vitality Division.
  • And the coup de grâce: A extremely uncommon clause within the contract stating that pay charges and different phrases couldn’t be audited or reviewed by Federal Emergency Administration Company; the island’s authorities; the comptroller common; or PREPA.

The Trump administration denied any wrongdoing with regard to Whitefish. It very properly may very well be telling the reality. Even so, distancing itself from the Whitefish fiasco does little or no to resolve the administration’s basic drawback with Puerto Rico.

Zinke struck a defiant, Trump-like tone with reporters asking if he had something to do with the contract. “Any makes an attempt by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding of influencing any contract involving Whitefish are fully baseless,” Zinke wrote in an announcement. “Solely in elitist Washington, D.C., would being from a small city be thought of against the law.” The White Home, too, mentioned it had nothing to do with the contract PREPA awarded.

I had completely nothing to do with Whitefish Vitality receiving a contract in Puerto Rico. I welcome all investigations into the allegations pic.twitter.com/JQgVFR7Fp6

— Secretary Ryan Zinke (@SecretaryZinke) October 27, 2017

Certainly, granting the contract to Whitefish was in the end the choice of Puerto Rico’s electrical utilityHowever practically six weeks after the storm, a lot of the island continues to be with out energy. Even probably the most conservative members of Congress regard catastrophe reduction as primarily the accountability of the federal authorities. So long as a lot of the island stays darkish, Puerto Rico is basically Trump’s drawback.

Because it stands, solely 38 % of Individuals approve of Trump’s job efficiency, in line with a brand new NBC-Wall Road Journal ballot revealed over the weekend. Among the many points weighing down Trump’s approval score probably the most — well being care, the Iran nuclear deal, Puerto Rico and the NFL protests— it’s the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that continues to be the furthest from Trump’s management.

However taking accountability for occasions exterior of their management is precisely what presidents should do.

Apart from the sequence of hurricanes, up to now Trump has confronted few badessments not of his personal making. As Trump likes to level out on Twitter, the unemployment charge has been low and GDP development has been excessive throughout his tenure, though ebbs and flows of these financial indicators are usually not solely linked to the federal government’s actions.

How the Trump administration has dealt with Puerto Rico and Whitefish — in search of credit score for the restoration whereas deflecting blame, even when unwarranted — is probably a prelude for a way the president will deal with even larger exterior emergencies.

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POWER PLAYS

Paul Manafort.

BREAKING: Paul Manafort, and his former enterprise affiliate, Rick Gates, have been informed to give up to federal authorities, per the Put up’s Roz Helderman and Matt Zapotosky. “The exact expenses the lads face weren’t instantly clear … Prosecutors have been probing Manafort’s work as a political marketing consultant in Ukraine, the place he suggested a Russia-friendly political social gathering for years earlier than his work with Trump. They’ve additionally been badyzing Manafort’s private funds.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz go to a neighborhood in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (REUTERS/Alvin Baez)

— Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) visited Puerto Rico late final week as a part of one of many newest teams to tour the storm- ravaged areas.

Sanders tweeted about his journey:

The extent of destruction in Puerto Rico is unprecedented. Rebuilding would require vital sources over an extended time frame. pic.twitter.com/foSBPixYEM

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 27, 2017

Right this moment I’m in Puerto Rico to speak with households and native authorities representatives in regards to the destruction they’re coping with. pic.twitter.com/CHPidDPh84

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 27, 2017

Puerto Rico will not be alone. pic.twitter.com/EdvSyfhXru

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 27, 2017

In different key developments:

  • The Division of Housing and City Improvement has begun drawing up plans to supply housing for displaced hurricane victims, Bloomberg reviews, and a few residents could also be evacuated to the U.S. mainland.

  • BuzzFeed Information reported the Puerto Rican authorities mentioned it approved greater than 900 our bodies to be cremated following the storm and “not one in all them had been bodily examined by a authorities medical expert to find out if it ought to be included within the official demise toll.” A authorities spokesman informed the web site that the entire 911 individuals died of “pure causes.”

  • The Put up’s Philip Bump reminds us we could by no means know Maria’s full toll: “The query that arises is whether or not or not that complete is abnormally excessive. If 911 is a whole lot of deaths for a standard month in Puerto Rico, it could point out that some hurricane-related deaths are usually not being counted as such.”

  • Practically three dozen Democrats have signed a letter to FEMA and the Military Corps of Engineers calling on them to hasten efforts to revive energy to the island. “We’re significantly involved with the shortage of a unified command for electrical grid restoration to make sure that sources are correctly and shortly utilized, that particular duties are appropriately prioritized, and that efforts are usually not duplicative,” the senators wrote within the letter, per The Hill. 

  • Democratic senators to Trump: Remember in regards to the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra, which just like the territory’s huge island had been hit laborious by the hurricane. For extra on the scenario in Vieques, learn this late September report from The Put up’s Amy Gordon.

From MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin: 

Democratic senators need the Trump admin to prioritize help to the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra and deploy EPA employees. pic.twitter.com/ko0vXslfCD

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 30, 2017

— No Katrina redux: Following Hurricane Harvey in Houston, FEMA director Brock Lengthy cautioned towards bringing in cell houses to function momentary housing for storm victims after widespread criticism following the use of such houses after Hurricane Katrina.

Lengthy known as it a “final resort” plan. Nonetheless, report The Put up’s Kimberly Kindy and Aaron C. Davis, FEMA spent $300 million on cell houses following Harvey and readied 1,700 cell houses in its stock.

“But most of these houses stay warehoused. FEMA has made the hunt for everlasting rental housing its high precedence and is reluctant to deploy the infamous houses and trailers,” Kindy and Davis report. “That call is crippling restoration efforts in states the place 1000’s of individuals stay in shelters and resorts greater than six weeks after huge hurricanes destroyed their houses. Now in Texas and Florida — the place rental inventory is insufficient — state officers are cranking up the stress on FEMA to launch the cell items.”

Earmarked: Trump informed Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) late final week that he plans to shrink the state’s Bears Ears Nationwide Monument.

“I’m approving the Bears Ears advice for you, Orrin,” Trump informed the senator in a telephone name Friday morning, reported The Put up’s Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears.

Trump plans to go to Utah in early December earlier than he makes changes to monuments within the state. The Washington Examiner reported that Hatch mentioned Friday the president plans to vary each Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante Nationwide Monument, each a part of Inside Secretary Zinke’s suggestions following a months-long evaluation.

372 days till the midterm election: The League of Conservation Voters made a $300,000 advert purchase for one Democratic senator up for reelection in 2018, Tammy Baldwin, about a problem that resonates in Wisconsin: Asian carp.

 

OIL CHECK

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press convention throughout his badembly with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier within the Kremlin. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Picture by way of AP)

Citgo scenario: The New York Occasions has a front-page story about Russia wielding one in all its state-owned oil corporations as a instrument for gaining affect overseas. The paper’s Clifford Krauss writes: “Moscow, by the state oil large Rosneft, is making an attempt to construct affect in locations the place the US has stumbled or energy is up for grabs.” This consists of Venezuela, which is more and more turning to Russia for money and credit score. Final yr, Rosneft took a 49.9 % stake Venezuela’s state-run refining subsidiary in the US, Citgo, over objections from members of Congress. Rosneft is now in search of stakes in Venezuelas oil fields — proper within the yard of the United States.”

— Drip, drip: After greater than 670,000 gallons of oil spilled from a fractured pipe a couple of mile beneath the ocean’s floor within the Gulf of Mexico close to Venice, La., it was hardly seen. It was the biggest spill because the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. However the New York Occasions reviews that “on this case, the oil degraded shortly, partly due to environmental forces.”

Lt. Cmdr. Steven Youde of the Coast Guard informed the Occasions that a lot of the oil drops that leaked from a fractured pipe, which was pressurized to greater than three,000 kilos per sq. inch, had been so small they measured in microns.

“Consider a soda can or a beer can,” he informed the Occasions. “If you happen to shake it up and poke a tiny gap in it, it comes out in tiny, tiny droplets.”

THERMOMETER

The development website of the Southport setback levee is seen in West Sacramento, Calif. The levee will badist shield neighborhoods from flooding if the Sacramento River breaches levees. (Andrew Burton/For The Washington Put up)

— What’s subsequent for California? As Northern California recovers from main wildfires, state officers are frightened about different pure disasters, reviews The Put up’s Tim Craig. “Sacramento is extra weak to catastrophic flooding than another main metropolis in the US besides New Orleans,” Craig writes. “Levees and different flood defenses right here and within the surrounding Central Valley have ambaded as much as $21 billion in wanted repairs and upgrades, whereas Sacramento’s inhabitants has continued to develop. Simply days earlier than Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and flooded Houston, a report from the California Division of Water Sources warned that ‘many flood amenities’ within the Central Valley ‘face an unacceptably excessive likelihood of failure.’”

— 5 years after Sandy: Victims of Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey are warning victims of the harrowing 2017 hurricane season to be affected person. “Folks informed me it could be 5 years earlier than we’re again collectively. I badumed, you gotta be kidding me. I’ll be again by Christmas,” a 69-year-old resident of Brigantine, N.J. informed CNN. Nicely, it’ll be 5 years in October and we’re not 100% but.”

The New York Occasions mirrored on the storm that made landfall on October 29, 2012. “Every year we don’t get a hurricane right here we all know we’ve dodged a bullet,” Robert Freudenberg, the vp for power and setting on the Regional Plan Affiliation informed the Occasions. “We’re racing the clock nonetheless to try to put together for one more storm like Sandy.”

DAYBOOK

Right this moment

  • Sources for the Future holds an occasion.
  • George Washington’s Environmental and Vitality Administration Institute holds a workshop on carbon dioxide elimination/adverse emissions.

Coming Up

  • The Senate Vitality and Pure Sources Committee holds a listening to on “new effectivity alternatives supplied by superior constructing administration and management techniques” on Tuesday.
  • The Bipartisan Coverage Heart holds an occasion to “unpack the proposed grid reliability and resiliency pricing rule into consideration at FERC” on Tuesday.
  • The Home Monetary Providers Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations holds a listening to on “Analyzing the Neighborhood Improvement Block Grant-Catastrophe Restoration Program” on Wednesday.
  • The Woodrow Wilson Heart’s Brazil Institute holds an occasion on growing low carbon economies in Latin America on Wednesday.
  • Johns Hopkins College’s College of Superior Worldwide Research holds an occasion on power effectivity in rising markets on Wednesday.
  • The Home Science, Area and Know-how Subcommittee on Vitality holds a listening to on the way forward for low dose radiation badysis on Wednesday.
  • The Nationwide Economists Membership holds an occasion with the American Chemistry Council’s chief economist Kevin Swift on Thursday.
  • The Home Vitality and Commerce Subcommittee on Vitality holds a listening to on a evaluation of emergency response and infrastructure restoration following the hurricane season on Thursday.
  • The Home Pure Sources Subcommittee on Water, Energy and Oceans holds a legislative listening to on three water payments on Thursday.
  • The Senate Vitality and Pure Sources Committee holds a listening to to obtain testimony on potential for oil and fuel exploration within the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic Nationwide Wildlife Refuge on Thursday.
  • The Ripon Society holds an occasion on the Way forward for Puerto Rico on Thursday.
  • Axios and NBC Information holds an occasion with Vitality Secretary Rick Perry and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) on Thursday.

EXTRA MILEAGE

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Watch firefighters in Italy rescue canine from a crevbade:

John Oliver discusses the federal system for financing flood restoration: 




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