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Morning Reads: State AGs Band Together to Crack Down on Polluters; Labor Wins Big at SCOTUS

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: State AGs Band Together to Crack Down on Polluters

Steam rises from stacks at the Conoco-Phillips refinery on January 25, 2011 in Rodeo, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

AGs get tough on polluters –> Yesterday, attorneys general from 18 states and US territories pledged to work together investigating whether fossil fuel companies have misled investors about the threat of climate change and its impact on business. Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Virgin Islands AG Claude Earl Walker also announced they would join an investigation of Exxon already underway by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, following reports by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times that the company intentionally misled the public on climate science. Buzzfeed’s Dan Verano writes, “The ‘AGs United for Clean Power’ group are largely members of states that have supported the Obama Administration’s clean power plan that would cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants nationwide.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina’s attorney general, Democrat Roy Cooper, called the state’s new anti-LGBT legislation “a national embarrassment,” and said his office will not defend it from challenges in federal court. Coming on the heels of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s veto this week of similar legislation when companies threatened to withdraw their business from that state, Cooper said that his state’s law “will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t repeal it. We know that businesses here and all over the country have taken a strong stance in opposition to this law.”

Labor win — for now –> Adam Liptak at The New York Times: “The Supreme Court handed organized labor a major victory on Tuesday, deadlocking 4 to 4 in a case that had threatened to cripple the ability of public-sector unions to collect fees from workers who chose not to join and did not want to pay for the unions’ collective bargaining activities. It was the starkest illustration yet of how the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month has blocked the power of the court’s four remaining conservatives to move the law to the right.” Because SCOTUS was unable to decide, the appeals court ruling in favor of the unions will stand. The case is likely to resurface once Scalia’s successor is on the bench.

Reef madness –> Eric Holthaus reports for Slate: “Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is currently undergoing its most severe coral bleaching episode in recorded history, new data and images show. Bleaching occurs when water temperatures rise too much and corals defensively expel the symbiotic and colorful algae that helps them survive… Scientists who have dedicated their careers to studying the reef and its ecosystem say the current bleaching is unprecedented, and perhaps unrecoverable.” The reef is one more casualty of a warming planet.

No apologies –> “Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump defended his campaign manager as a ‘very decent man’ Tuesday, hours after the staffer was charged with battery in Florida for allegedly grabbing a reporter and yanking her away from Trump. Corey Lewandowski, 42, faces one misdemeanor count of battery as a result of the March 8 incident,” David A. Fahrenthold and Wesley Lowery report for The Washington Post.

Ironically, even though Trump has insisted on his campaign manager’s innocence, the most damning evidence against Lewandowski now comes from a security camera backstage at Trump’s own golf club, Robert Mackey notes at The Intercept.

“Double life” –> Before joining the Trump campaign, Lewandowski was the leader of the New Hampshire chapter of the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, where he “led an aggressive operation dedicated to slashing government spending—including earmarks and subsidies—and eviscerating government regulations, particularly the green-energy agenda of the Obama administration. Yet Lewandowski led something of a double life, because while he was battling the government for AFP, he was also working as a lobbyist and seeking federal funds for clients that included a solar power company,” Russ Choma reports for Mother Jones.

Pledge? What Pledge? –> Demonstrating just how fractured the GOP presidential campaign has become, Gregory Krieg at CNN writes, “Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich all stepped back from their earlier pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee during Tuesday night’s CNN town hall. ‘All of us shouldn’t even have answered that question,’ Kasich said of the pledge party officials asked all the candidates to sign in September.”

RIP, Lester C. Thurow –> As his New York Times obituary notes, the economist — and frequent public television guest — was known “for his prescient warnings about the growing income gap between rich and poor Americans.”

Morning Reads was written by John Light and Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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