Updated below at 4 p.m.:
Employees of Sonny Perdue and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been instructed to find alternatives to the term “climate change” as they deal with a field peculiarly dependent on the weather.
The Guardian newspaper has obtained a series of emails passed among the staff of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the USDA that oversees land conservation — in which the workers were given instructions on how the new Trump administration wanted to talk about global warming:
— Instead of “climate change,” use “weather extremes.”
— Instead of “climate change adaption,” use resilience to weather extremes, resilience to intense weather events, drought, heavy rain, spring ponding.
— Instead of “reducing greenhouse gases,” use “build soil organic matter and increase nutrient use efficiency.”
The newspaper noted that Sam Clovis, President Donald Trump’s nomination to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist, is a non-scientist who has labeled climate research “junk science.”
Updated: Communication specialists with the USDA are pushing back on this report, contacting us and other news outlets that have cited The Guardian article with this statement:
“The Natural Resources Conservation Service has not received direction from USDA or the Administration to modify its communications on climate change or any other topic. The agency continuously evaluates its messaging to America’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters as they work to implement voluntary conservation on their operations to improve the health of our soil, air, water, and habitat.”
“These emails, sent in the first days of the new Administration to a small number of agency staff, did not reflect the direction of senior agency leadership.”
The progressive group known as Netroots Nation begins a three-day meeting in Atlanta today. Former Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., top the Saturday agenda. Democrat Jon Ossoff, who lost to Karen Handel in June in the costliest congressional contest of all time, is scheduled to appear on a Saturday morning panel about midterm elections “in the resistance era.”
Already this morning, we’ve reported that a local chapter of the progressive group Indivisible plans to make itself known at U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s first town hall meeting of the year on Monday.
One other thing Isakson might want to know: Health care is still a concern, but according to the Gallup polling organization, Americans are citing the U.S. government itself as the most important problem facing the U.S. this month. The figure is 20 percent. Democrats are more nervous than Republicans.
Meanwhile, the Savannah Morning News reports that U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, who is hosting nine town hall meetings in his coastal Georgia district, has canceled the tickets of some constituents who have signed up for more than one of the events. “I do commend him for coming out and speaking, but if you have a sold-out event in Savannah, then do a second one or have a bigger venue,” said one disappointed constituent.
The Washington Post reports that researchers at Boston Medical Center found that, over two years, 68,177 doctors received more than $46 million in payments from drug companies pushing powerful opioid painkillers.
Our AJC colleague Ariel Hart notes that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia has posted an FAQ on its decision to stop selling individual health insurance policies in metro Atlanta for the first time in decades. The company points to Congress:
“We are pleased that some steps have been taken to address the long term challenges all health plans serving the Individual market are facing. There remain many marketplace uncertainties, principally cost sharing reduction subsidy funding that make it challenging to be comfortable with the level of predictability of a sustainable marketplace.”
Meanwhile, the Associated Press has this:
The Trump administration’s own actions are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many consumers, a nonpartisan study has found.
The analysis released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that mixed signals from President Donald Trump have created uncertainty “far outside the norm,” leading insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case.
Former President Jimmy Carter may have let slip his preference for Georgia governor in 2018. At a July fundraising dinner, he said he hoped to see Democrat Stacey Abrams in the Governor’s Mansion.
We’ve been hearing some talk that John Eaves, the chairman of the Fulton County Commission, might pull out of the race for mayor of Atlanta. It ain’t so, he told AJCer Arielle Kass. “I’m not leaving. [The rumors are] designed to stop the momentum that I’m having. It’s not true. I see myself in City Hall.”
Already posted this morning: Clay Tippins, a 44-year-old tech executive and former Navy SEAL is considering joining the GOP race for Georgia governor. He’s the nephew of state Sen. Lindsey Tippins, a Republican from west Cobb County.
Donald Trump confidante Roger Stone is headed to Atlanta on Friday to appear with Republican Michael Williams, a state senator who is running for governor on a pro-Trump platform.