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By Nadia Prupis
Days after his confirmation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt began stacking his department with conservatives, many of them climate deniers and all of them eager to axe environmental regulations—much like President Trump himself, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
To start, there's Ryan Jackson, former chief of staff to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of the most outspoken climate deniers in Congress, infamous for bringing a snowball into the chamber to illustrate that global warming was not real. Jackson will serve as Pruitt's chief of staff.
Then there's Byron Brown, another Inhofe staffer, who will now be Jackson's deputy.
Andrew Wheeler, formerly of Inhofe's team but now a fossil fuel lobbyist, is at the top of Pruitt's list to be deputy EPA chief, although he will require confirmation by the Senate.
And two Trump campaigners, Don Benton and Douglas Ericksen, are also taking on senior positions in the agency.
The Times' Coral Davenport wrote:
To friends and critics, Mr. Pruitt seems intent on building an EPA leadership that is fundamentally at odds with the career officials, scientists and employees who carry out the agency's missions. That might be a recipe for strife and gridlock at the federal agency tasked to keep safe the nation's clean air and water while safeguarding the planet's future.
It remains to be seen whether that kind of conflict will arise between Pruitt and EPA employees. Under Trump, the agency has already rolled back critical Obama-era regulations, effectively restricting the government's ability to prevent water pollution and collect data on methane emissions.
More anti-environmental plans and executive orders from Pruitt and Trump are expected to come this week as well. Meanwhile, the president's first draft budget includes a proposal to slash the EPA's annual funding by about 24 percent or $2 billion.
EPA employees say morale has plummeted, particularly for those who helped strengthen regulations under former President Obama and will now be ordered to undo their own work.
The changes have also come in more subtle ways. The day after Trump took office, WhiteHouse.gov scrubbed any mention of "climate change" and on Tuesday, the watchdog group Environmental Data and Governance Initiative reported that the agency's Office of Science and Technology Policy no longer lists "science" in its own description.
"This is probably the most important thing we've found so far," Environmental Data and Governance Initiative's Gretchen Gehrke told the New Republic. "The language changes here are not nuanced—they have really important regulatory implications."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jake Johnson
Calling the global climate crisis both the greatest threat facing the U.S. and the greatest opportunity for transformative change, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled today a comprehensive Green New Deal proposal that would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs over a decade.
The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.
The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.
'This is a Sick Statement': Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Under Pressure for Anti-Environmental Policies, Blames NGOs for Record Amazon Fires
'Work Together' or 'Destroy it': Goldman Prize Winner Francia Márquez on World's Second Deadliest Country For Environmental Activists
In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.