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Will Not Bend in Wall Funding Demand: Donald Trump

Democratic leaders call the idea of a wall an immoral wasteful pipe dream.

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Trump not declaring emergency 'right now'. VOA

Another work week begins in the U.S. Monday – but not for hundreds of thousands of federal employees forced to stay home because of the government shutdown.

Hundreds of thousands of others will be on the job this week, but will not get a paycheck.

President Donald Trump said Sunday he can “relate” to the hardship of not getting paid. But he is telling federal workers to “make adjustments” because he said he will not bend in his demand for $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration.

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Visitors take their pictures at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, as a partial government shutdown stretches into its third week. VOA

Congressional Democrats refuse to include money for a wall in the federal budget, with the standoff having prompted the Trump administration to order the partial shutdown.

Trump said Sunday he could make a deal with Democratic leaders “in 20 minutes if they want to. If they don’t want to, it’s (the shutdown is) going to go on for a long time.”

He also said the barrier along the southern border could be a fence made of steel instead of a wall made of concrete if that will make people happier.

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A border patrol office inside his vehicle guards the border fence at the U.S. side of San Diego, Calif., as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, Jan. 2, 2019. VOA

But Republican Senator Susan Collins called the argument over whether the wall is steel or concrete “bizarre” and says reopening the government must be Congress’ top priority.

“I’ve never thought that shutdowns are an appropriate means of trying to achieve any kind of solution. This isn’t a matter of one side or the other caving in. It’s a matter of getting to a compromise and that is a sign of strength,” Collins told NBC’s Meet the Press.

Trump says national security is his top priority and claims many federal workers are glad to give up their paychecks for a wall to stop drugs, terrorists and criminal gangs from crossing into the county from Mexico.

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The Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum is seen shuttered during the partial government shutdown, Jan. 4, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Trump says he is considering declaring a national emergency which would allow him to build a wall without congressional approval – a move some Democrats say would be challenged in the courts.

“Look, if [President] Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multi-billion dollar wall on the border,” Congressman Adam Schiff said on CNN.

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Democratic leaders call the idea of a wall an immoral wasteful pipe dream. They say they are interested in border security too, but believe there are better and more tangible ways toward that end. (VOA)

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Trump EPA Finalizes Rollback of Key Obama Climate Rule that Targeted Coal Plants

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America's 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans

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EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks with the media at the Environmental Protection Agency, June 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States as scientists continue to warn countries to rapidly cut emissions to prevent the most drastic effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s initiative to cut global warming emissions from coal plants.

The new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule gives America’s 50 states three years to develop their own emissions reduction plans by encouraging coal plants to improve their efficiency.

By contrast, the Clean Power Plan was designed to slash power plant carbon emissions by more than one-third from 2005 levels by 2030 by pushing utilities to replace coal with cleaner fuels like natural gas, solar and wind.

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The Trump administration is rolling back rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. VOA

The Obama-era plan was never enacted, however, because of lawsuits filed by Republican states and hundreds of companies. The Supreme Court halted its enactment in February 2016.

“States will be given the flexibility to design a plan that best suits their citizens environmental and energy needs, according to a summary of the new rules,” according to a summary of the ruling.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at a Washington news conference, “Our ACE rule will incentivize new technology which will ensure coal plants will be part of a cleaner future.”

But environmentalists, many Democratic lawmakers and some state attorneys general have labeled the new rules the “Dirty Power Plan,” maintaining they will lead to increases in carbon emissions and other pollutants over the next few decades.

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“At a time when Americans are urging us to take meaningful climate action and reduce our carbon footprint, today’s Dirty Power Plan is a failure of vision and leadership,” said Joe Goffman, executive director of Harvard University’s Environmental & Energy Law Program.

Even the EPA’s own regulatory analysis last year estimated Trump’s ACE rule would kill an additional 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030 because of more air pollution from the U.S. power grid.

Trump has, nevertheless, dismissed scientific warnings on climate change, including a report this year from scientists at more than a dozen federal agencies noting that global warming from fossil fuels “presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life.”

Trump promised early in his presidency to kill the Clean Power Plan as part of an effort to revive the ailing coal industry, contending it exceeded the federal government’s authority.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday it had finalized rules to replace the Clean Power Plan. Pixabay

Wednesday’s announcement to overturn Obama-era climate rules is part of a broader Trump administration effort to roll back “a multitude of health, safety environmental and consumer protections at the behest of corporate interests,” the non-profit consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen concluded in a report released in May.

The report said shortly after Trump took office in early 2017, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sent the Trump administration a list of 132 regulations that “concerned” members and detailed their “preferred course of action to address its concerns on each of the regulations.”

The report concluded that “Regulatory agencies have granted or are working on granting 85 percent of the wishes related to rulemakings on a list of deregulatory demands submitted” by NAM.

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The new rule is expected to take effect within 30 days. (VOA)