By Heather Moyer
Judith Enck has some real worries about the future of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Trump administration, but she also has faith in the agency's career staff.
As the former regional administrator of EPA Region 2 (from 2009 to January 2017), Enck said Trump's proposed massive budget cuts to EPA—projected to be anywhere from 31 to 43 percent cuts—are alarming for an agency charged with holding polluters accountable.
"We knew it was going to be bad, but not this bad," said Enck, who was the longest serving Region 2 administrator in history. "There are million of Americans appalled by Trump's environmental agenda."
And for good reason: Trump's proposed EPA budget eliminates funding used to protect America's most iconic bodies of water, like the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. It would slash support for Superfund sites and hinder EPA's ability to monitor air quality and check for signs of deadly and toxic pollution like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Enck has hope, though. "There are some in EPA who can try to minimize damage."
Her faith in EPA career staff comes from her seven years working so closely with them. She said many have been at the agency for decades and know their jobs well. "In my farewell speech I encouraged the staff to be the first line of defense in reminding any new staff at EPA who do not want to enforce the law or turn away from important pollution problems," she said. "We really need them to stand up to this assault on environmental protections."
She also believes the EPA's role is to help the U.S. be an international leader on climate change action. "I think that's in jeopardy, though, unfortunately."
Trump's budget will hurt Americans in a number of ways. It would strip funding that enables the U.S. to meet its commitment to the Green Climate Fund, hampering our ability to continue to lead the world in climate action. It also slashes innovative clean energy research efforts (ARPA-E), eliminates funding for after-school and summer programs for at risk and underserved youth run by park and recreation agencies (21st Century Community Learning Centers program) and even puts the EPA programs that respond to crisis like Flint at risk.
But Enck is not discouraged. Her spirit is strong for taking action and encouraging so many others to take action as well.
"I want to be a public voice for the importance of the agency," she said. "I want to urge Americans to flex their civic muscle and communicate with their members of Congress about these draconian cuts to the EPA budget."
Enck sees three major points in a movement to protect the EPA and its mission:
1. Educating the public.
2. Getting members of Congress to act.
"We need all three of those to hold back the worst," Enck said. She encourages the public to have their members of Congress on speed dial and to call them regularly, no matter how bad the outlook seems for environmental protection.
"I'm the opposite of someone who says, 'pace yourself,'" she laughed. Then she got serious. "We can never lose our sense of outrage. That's what will prompt us to take action. We need to organize opposition early and aggressively and in a sophisticated way."
You can help defend the EPA against Trump's drastic budget cuts—take action.
By Robin Scher
Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.
As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.
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By David Drake and Jeffrey York
The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.
The Big Idea
People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.
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