By Andy Rowell
“The Trump administration claims that it supports clean air and water, but its proposed FY 2018 Budget tells another story.”
So begins the devastating 10 page analysis and critique of the proposed cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), written by former staffers, called the Environmental Protection Network, which is made up of retired employees from Republican and Democratic administrations.
Together, they have decades of experience and they are outraged at the attack on their former agency. They do not mince their words: “slash,” “severe,” “Orwellian,” “unprecedented” and “eliminated” are some of the words used in their report.
The “deep cuts would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s Budget 42%,” leaving the EPA with the smallest workforce since the early eighties.
“The punishment inflicted on EPA is deeper than any other major federal agency. Staff layoffs most likely will hit younger, more recently hired staff, decimating the next generation of environmental professionals and crippling EPA and state efforts for years to come,” argue the ex-staffers.
On Thursday, the climate denying head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, will have to defend these unprecedented cuts before Congress. Pruitt will preside over cuts that will kill people in an ideological attack on climate and science. Plain and simple.
Since heading up the EPA, Pruitt has been “packing his staff with climate skeptics drawn from the staff of the King Climate Skeptic, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK),” noted Dave Roberts in a must-read article in Vox.
Given Pruitt’s ideological climate stupidity, most EPA climate programs, including climate research, will be “eliminated,” and the EPA’s main science program is due to be slashed by 47 percent, according to the report:
“This area would be the most severely cut, contrary to verbiage in the Budget document acknowledging the important role of science in carrying out EPA’s regulatory, permitting and enforcement responsibilities. The damage is not only to EPA, but to scientists across the country.”
In total, the “budget would completely eliminate over 50 separate programs,” the ex-staffers concluded, noting that “these include programs that serve low income and disadvantaged communities that are disproportionally damaged by pollution.”
Meanwhile, in a further sop to the oil industry, the EPA is seeking to introduce a two-year pause on the Obama Administration oil and gas pollution rule, which would limit the potent greenhouse gas, methane, rather than the ninety days they first suggested.
Obama officials finalized the rule last year, but the oil industry has been lobbying hard to get it scrapped. Indeed, oil industry-puppet Scott Pruitt had sued the EPA over the rule when he was Oklahoma attorney general. As The Hill noted, “Pausing implementation of the rule for two years would mean drillers would not need to abide by the standards while the EPA’s review moves forward.”
Environmental groups are now suing the EPA over pausing the rule. One of those suing, the Natural Resources Defense Council, has said the Trump administration is “giving its friends in the oil and gas industry a free pass to continue polluting our air.”
But then it is worth remembering what Donald Trump said back in September last year to his oil industry buddies at a Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh: “Oh, you will like me so much,” he drooled.
If nothing else, this chaotic president and his crony Pruitt have stayed true to their word. As Dave Roberts pointed out Wednesday, “The love affair between Trump and fossil fuel companies has blossomed ever since.”