Skip to main content

Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

New data on voter purges emerges, companies will no longer pay for their damage to public lands, and the Department of Energy gets some heat for an old tweet.
Voters cast their ballots at voting booths on November 8th, 2016, in New York City.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on what happens to public schools in towns that have lost economic hope, the key takeaways from a letter Mexico's president-elect sent to his American counterpart, and how climate change affects suicide rates.

But our small newsroom, as always, can only cover so much. Here are a few more stories we've been following this week.

A New Report Shows an Increase in the Rate of Voter Purges in Recent Years

An investigation by the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan law and policy institute, examined voter purge rate data from across the United States. The report found that states removed close to 16 million voters from the rolls between 2014 and 2016—about four million more than were removed between 2006 and 2008. It also concluded that four states have conducted illegal purges in the last five years, and the Department of Justice has "abdicated its assigned role in preventing overly aggressive purges." The report also found that an interstate voter registration program (which compares voter registration lists and flags listings that share a name and date of birth) disproportionately affects minority voters because African-American, Asian-American, and Latino voters are much more likely to share surnames.

Developers Will No Longer Have to Pay for Damage to Public Lands

The Trump administration this week did away with "compensatory mitigation," a policy that required payment from energy companies and companies that otherwise alter Bureau of Land Management lands, as a means of offsetting the impact of their work. The policy is meant to help protect wildlife and their habitats from the ecological damage that development can cause. The shift in policy, Tracy Stone-Manning of the National Wildlife Federation told Bloomberg, "looks like another giveaway for industry at the expense of the American public and wildlife."

The Department of Energy Violated the Law With a Tweet

Last summer, in the midst of the Republican push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Energy tweeted out a link to an opinion piece that Rick Perry wrote condemning the health-care legislation. This week, a year and a day after the Department of Energy issued (and then deleted) that tweet, the United States Government Accountability Office found that the department had broken the law because promoting Perry's op-ed was not an appropriate use of taxpayer funds.

Representative Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, had requested the investigation. No word yet on the legality of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's sock tweet.