Washington, May 9, 2017: US President Donald Trump has appointed Neil Chatterjee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees electricity, natural gas and oil at the national level.
Chatterjee will play a key role in Trump’s programme to reshape energy policy, most of which is opposed by environmentalists and Democrats, if his appointment is confirmed by the Senate.
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He is the second Indian American to be appointed by Trump to a major regulatory position with a controversial mission.
The other is Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who is spearheading the administration’s drive to end net neutrality, a policy that prevents internet service providers from giving special treatment to preferred web companies.
Chatterjee held the influential position of energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and helped shape energy legislation.
His work backed the Senator’s campaign against regulations to restrict use of coal for electricity generation.
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A lawyer by training, he started as an intern with the House Works and Means Committee.
Between his stints on Congressional staff, he has been a lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Chatterjee, 40, grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, where his parents worked in cancer research. He is married with two sons and a daughter.
Among issues he will likely deal with are Trump’s plans to allow the construction of the Keystone pipeline to carry crude oil from Canada to Texas in the US, which was stopped by former President Barack Obama, and several gas pipeline projects. (IANS)
U.S. President Donald Trump is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax.
In an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump told CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes “I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again…I’m not denying climate change, but it could very well go back. You know, we’re talking about over millions of years.”
Trump has over the years called global warming a hoax and had once called it a Chinese plot aimed at wrecking the U.S. economy.
Trump told 60 Minutes he does not know if global waning is manmade, despite the scientific research showing that pollution and human activity is the major contributor. He said he does not want to give “trillions and trillions of dollars” and lose “millions and millions of jobs” to prevent it.
Most scientists link a warming planet with storms that are more intense. Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle last week as the strongest storm to strike the continental United States in nearly 50 years.
Trump said there have been hurricanes that were “far worse” than Michael and said scientists calling for action on climate change have a “very big political agenda.”
Meanwhile, the town of Mexico Beach, Florida was just about wiped off the face of the earth by Hurricane Michael.
“Mexico Beach is devastated,” Florida Governor Rick Scott says. “It’s like a war zone.”
Michael’s 250 kilometer per hour winds left only a handful of buildings standing. Concrete slabs are left where houses and stores thrived. Only a few trees are left. The main U.S. highway that goes through the town is not drivable.
Mexico Beach police chief Anthony Kelly told VOA’s Spanish Service, “When you come here and see the devastation, it’s hard, it’s emotionally hard.”
“We know each person in the majority of the houses. They know us,” Kelly said. “All these people are close to us. And now we’re going around the neighborhoods making sure that they’re not in any of these houses that are so extremely damaged.”
“Looking in the debris, seeing photos of grandkids, people that we know that have come back here year after year, that’s the emotional side,” he said. “I’ve got officers that this is their first catastrophic event, and it’s hard to explain to them, you know, it’s going to get better, because they’re seeing reality.”
The town’s medical manager, Patricia Cantwell, said, “It’s extremely sad that the devastation has been so rampant throughout the Panhandle” of the state.
“Having lived through Hurricane Andrew in south Florida (in 1992), it’s going to take a while,” she told VOA. “It’s one day at a time. It looks overwhelming to start, but, you know, one day at a time. It’s going to take years to get things back up and running.”
Brock Long, the head Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the death toll in Mexico Beach could rise, as rescue workers continue to search the rubble left behind by the storm. It could take another 10 days to compile a damage estimate.
Some physical structures in the town were lifted off their moorings and moved hundreds of meters away by the winds and storm surge from the storm. Other buildings were left in masses of debris, demolished beyond recognition.