U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NRDC / Flilckr

Trump, Pruitt Slash EPA Staff to 30-Year Lows as Drinking Water, Climate Change Crises Mount

By October of this year, the staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be reduced to levels not seen since the Reagan administration, 30 years ago, according to a report by Brady Dennis with the Washington Post.

The dramatic reduction in staff will almost certainly include career scientists and other staff who are often called into local communities where an environmental disaster is occurring, like Houston following Hurricane Harvey. These staffers also work on less urgent, but serious problems like the widespread drinking water contamination that impacts virtually every American.

The push to downsize EPA staff comes as part of a larger effort to curtail the size and scope of an agency that President Trump once promised to eliminate "in almost every form."

Last week, the Arkema chemical plant explosion in Crosby, Texas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, shined a light on not only the Trump administration's lax oversight of the nation's chemical facilities, but his dramatic 31 percent proposed budget cut to the EPA and what that would mean for chemical plant safety in the future.

A second hurricane, Irma, is the largest ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and is ripping through the Caribbean on its way toward South Florida. Among the 97 percent of climate scientists who agree humans are a driving contributor to the warming planet, there is consensus that a result of warming oceans is much larger, more intense hurricanes. Until the Trump administration came to power, former President Obama's EPA was taking significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are the leading culprit of climate change.

"Only the Trump administration would conclude that it's a good idea to cripple the federal agency tasked with combating the growing pollution threats to Americans' drinking water, and the clear and present dangers of climate change—like historic, back-to-back hurricanes," said EWG President Ken Cook. "These and other serious problems demand more resources, not fewer. However, the EPA is no longer run by leaders who put a premium on human health and environmental protection, and this hollowing out of the agency's staff is the clearest example of Trump and Pruitt's disdain for both."

A report released this week by EWG shows the drinking water of nearly 90 million Americans is tainted with the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane. The EPA and its career staff are charged with working with local authorities to help mitigate drinking water contamination.

Show Comments ()
Parks & Wildlife Service, Western Australia / Twitter

More Than 140 Whales Dead After Mass Stranding in Western Australia

More than 150 short-finned pilot whales stranded en masse at Hamelin Bay on the west coast of Australia early Friday morning.

Most of the whales did not survive after beaching themselves, according to Jeremy Chick, incident controller at Western Australia's Parks & Wildlife Service.

Keep reading... Show less

The New Government Omnibus Spending Bill Shows That Science Advocacy Matters

By Yogin Kothari

After a long wait, late Wednesday night, Congress posted a spending agreement for the rest of the 2018 fiscal year. For the most part, we achieved significant victories, especially given the challenging political environment, in repelling proposals that would have directly undermined the role of science in public health and environmental policymaking.

Keep reading... Show less

Pipeline Leaks 42,000 Gallons Into Indiana Stream

Forty-two thousand gallons of diesel spilled from a Marathon Petroleum Corporation pipeline into Big Creek in Posey Creek, Indiana before the leak was detected Tuesday evening, U.S. News & World Report reported Wednesday.

The pipeline was immediately shut off, and workers contained the spill with two booms before it reached the Wabash River.

Keep reading... Show less

Skylines to Switch Off as Millions Connect to the Planet to Celebrate Earth Hour 2018

On Saturday, March 24 at 8:30 p.m. local time, skylines around the world will go dark as millions celebrate WWF's Earth Hour to spark global awareness and action on nature and the environment.

From the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building, and the Bird's Nest stadium to Burj Khalifa, thousands of landmarks will switch off their lights in solidarity for the planet, urging individuals, businesses and governments worldwide to move forward the conversations and solutions we need to build a healthy, sustainable future for all.

Keep reading... Show less
Save Ohio's Bobcat's is working to oppose a proposed trapping season for the recently-threatened feelines. Save Ohio's Bobcats

Concerned Ohioans Unite Against Bobcat Trapping Plan

Environmental activists, science educators and the Athens Ohio City Council are teaming up against a controversial new proposal by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNRDOW) to open a bobcat trapping season in the southeastern part of the state, The New Political reported Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Industrial agribusiness is destroying our most precious natural resource—water. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

From 'Sea to Shining Sea,' Industrial Ag Fouls America's Waterways

By Katherine Paul

A citizen-led group in Nebraska is fighting Costco's plan to build a huge chicken factory farm operation that residents in nearby cities say would pollute their drinking water.

Residents of Devils Lake, North Dakota, along with members of the Spirit Lake Nation Tribe are battling plans to build a hog CAFO in a neighboring community. They say the operation would pollute Devils Lake and area wetlands.

Keep reading... Show less
Plastic samples collected from the Great Pacific garbage patch. The Ocean Cleanup

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now Twice the Size of Texas

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) floating off the coast of California now measures 1.6 million square kilometers (about 1 million square miles), according to a startling new study. To put that into perspective, the clump of trash is about the size of three Frances, or twice the size of Texas.

Not only that, the analysis, published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, also revealed that the massive Pacific trash vortex contains up to 16 times more plastic than previous estimates—and could rapidly get worse.

Keep reading... Show less
Sulfide chimneys coated with iron-based microbial mat at Urashima Vent. Deep sea hydrothermal vents like these are targeted for mining. NOAA / Flickr

Deep Sea Mining Decisions: Approaching the Point of No Return

By Sebastian Losada

Over the last two weeks, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has been in discussions in Jamaica. Its mission—to work towards the finalization of exploitation regulations, a so-called mining code, that will allow commercial deep sea mining operations to begin all around the world.

In the quest for minerals, deep seabed mining means to extend mining activities into the deep ocean. The coming two years are critical in the opening—or not—of this unnecessary new frontier of resource exploitation.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!