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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 Dan Gray
Pediatricians are being urged to start writing "exercise prescriptions" for the children they see in their office.
An indigenous rail blockade that snarled train travel in Canada for more than two weeks came to an end Monday when police moved in to clear protesters acting in solidarity with another indigenous community in British Columbia (B.C.), which is fighting to keep a natural gas pipeline off its land.
A Florida hiker recently stumbled across a slithering surprise — a rare snake that hadn't been spotted in the area for more than 50 years.
By Genna Reed
The EPA announced last week that it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard to two of the most common and well-studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS.
This decision is based on three criteria:
- PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health
- PFOA and PFOS occur in drinking water often enough and at levels of public health concern;
- regulation of PFOA and PFOS is a meaningful opportunity for reducing the health risk to those served by public water systems.
By Kieran Cooke
Driving an electric-powered vehicle (EV) rather than one reliant on fossil fuels is a key way to tackle climate change and improve air quality — but it does leave the old batteries behind as a nasty residue.